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Woman arrested for illegal sale of unregistered pharmaceutical products with banned drug ingredients on the Internet (with photo)

     A 26-year-old woman was today (August 30) arrested in a joint operation by the Police and the Department of Health (DH) in Mong Kok for the suspected illegal sale of one pack of "Diet Garcinia Forte", which is a slimming product with undeclared and banned drug ingredients.

     The operation followed laboratory test findings today revealing that the slimming product, which had been obtained earlier from an Internet auction website during the DH's surveillance operation, was found to contain sibutramine and phenolphthalein.

     Sibutramine is a Part I poison and was once a Western medicine used as an appetite suppressant. Since November 2010, products containing sibutramine have been banned by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board because of increased cardiovascular risk. Phenolphthalein was used previously to treat constipation, but has been banned for its cancer-causing effect.

     "Products containing sibutramine or phenolphthalein are banned and are not accepted for registration as pharmaceutical products in Hong Kong. The illegal sale of Part I poisons and sale of unregistered pharmaceutical products are offences under the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance. The maximum penalty for each offence is a fine of $100,000 and two years imprisonment," a DH spokesman said.

     During the operation, the woman was arrested by the Police for the illegal sale of Part I poison and sale of unregistered pharmaceutical product. The DH investigation continues.

     The spokesman asked members of the public not to buy or use products of unknown composition, whether in the marketplace or on the Internet. He also urged people to stop using the product immediately. They should consult healthcare professionals for advice if they feel unwell after taking the products concerned.

     "Weight control should be achieved through a balanced diet and appropriate exercise. Members of the public should consult healthcare professionals before using any medication for weight control," the spokesman said.

     "As the product contains banned drug ingredients and Part I poison, people should submit it to the department's Drug Office at 3/F, Public Health Laboratory Centre, 382 Nam Cheong Street, Kowloon, during office hours for disposal," the spokesman added.

Ends/Thursday, August 30, 2012
Issued at HKT 19:36


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