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Suspected illegal possession of unregistered proprietary Chinese medicines and sale of Part I poison by registered Chinese medicine practitioner

     The Department of Health (DH) is conducting investigation of a case of suspected illegal possession of unregistered proprietary Chinese medicines (pCm) and sale of Part I poison by a registered Chinese medicine practitioner (CMP), Fong Yiu, practising at Flat G, 5/F, Far East Mansion, 5-6 Middle Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon.

     The investigation follows a complaint from a member of the public, who had been prescribed with a jar of yellowish cream, some medicine powder for oral consumption, and a bottle of solution for topical use by the CMP for her son's skin problem. The Government Laboratory's analysis results today (April 11) detected the presence of a Part I poison, triamcinolone acetonide, in the yellowish cream and western medicines, chlorpheniramine and paracetamol, in the medicine powder.

     DH conducted field investigation at the CMP's clinic immediately. Preliminary investigation revealed that CMP Fong had prescribed cream to the patient. In addition, around 30 types of suspected unregistered pCm were found in the clinic premises.  

     Stocks of the suspected Part I poison and unregistered pCm were all seized for further laboratory investigation.

     While the DH's investigation is ongoing, so far, DH has not received any report of related adverse incidents. DH has set up a hotline 2125 1133, for enquiries related to the cream or the medicine powder prescribed by the CMP. It will operate starting tomorrow from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

     Triamcinolone acetonide is a potent steroid. Application of triamcinolone acetonide for a long time can cause thinning of skin, and other side effects such as moon face, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and even peptic ulcer. Chlorpheniramine is an over-the-counter Western drug commonly used for relieving allergic symptoms. The most well known side effect is drowsiness. As for paracetamol, it has long been used for its anti-pyretic and analgesic effects. Improper use may cause liver damage. On the other hand, use of unregistered pCms may pose public health threats as their safety, efficacy and quality have not been proven.

     On completion of investigation, DH will seek advice from the Department of Justice regarding prosecution against the CMP for possible contravention Section 21 of the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance (Cap. 138) for illegal sale of Part I poison. The maximum penalty is $100,000 and two years' imprisonment. In addition, the CMP might also contravene Section 119 of the Chinese Medicine Ordinance (Cap. 549) for illegal possession of unregistered pCm. The maximum penalty is also $100,000 and two years' imprisonment. The DH will also refer this case to the Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong for possible disciplinary actions.

     Members of the public are advised to consult healthcare professionals if they feel unwell after using medicines supplied by the CMP or in case of doubt. They should submit the medicines to the Chinese Medicine Division of DH at 16/F, AIA Kowloon Tower, Landmark East, 100 How Ming Street, Kwun Tong, during office hours.

Ends/Thursday, April 11, 2013
Issued at HKT 21:24


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