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Recall of Chinese herbal medicine contaminated by the Aristolochiaceae family of plants

     The Department of Health (DH) today (December 7) instructed a licensed Chinese medicines retailer Wing Wah Dispensary (Wing Wah) at Lei Yue Mun Plaza, Yau Tong, to recall from consumers its marketed Chinese herbal medicine Radix Stephaniae Tetrandrae, as it was contaminated by the Aristolochiaceae family of plants.

     The incident first came to light upon identification of impurities in a sample of Radix Stephaniae Tetrandrae obtained from the market surveillance of the DH. Preliminary macroscopic examination by the DH suspected that the impurities belonged to the Aristolochiaceae family of plants and might contain Aristolochic Acid (AA). Confirmation by the chemical analysis of the Government Laboratory is pending.

     As a precautionery measure, the DH has instructed Wing Wah to recall Radix Stephaniae Tetrandrae from consumers. Wing Wah has set up a hotline at 2349 0538 for public enquiries. The investigation by the DH is ongoing.

     According to medical documents, prolonged and excessive use of herbs containing AA is associated with kidney failure and cancer of the urinary tract. The DH has prohibited importation and sale of Chinese herbs and related products containing AA since June 2004.

     So far, the DH has not received related reports of adverse incidents.

     "According to the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap 132), selling a drug intended for use by man but unfit for that purpose is liable to a maximum penalty of $50,000 and six months' imprisonment. On completion of the investigation, the DH will work with the Department of Justice for prosecution matters. The DH will also refer this case to the Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong for taking possible disciplinary action," a DH spokesperson said.

     The spokesperson urged members of the public to stop using the above herb immediately. Those who have used the herb and felt unwell should seek advice from their health care professionals. Those who have the products should submit them to the Chinese Medicine Division of the DH on 16/F, AIA Kowloon Tower, Landmark East, 100 How Ming Street, Kwun Tong, during office hours.

Ends/Friday, December 7, 2012
Issued at HKT 21:01


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