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Recall of mercury-tainted proprietary Chinese medicine (with photo)

     The Department of Health (DH) today (August 2) instructed a licensed manufacturer of proprietary Chinese medicines (pCm), Hang Cheong Lung Pharmaceutical Limited (HCL), to recall from consumers one batch (batch number: 060782) of the pCm, [H.C.L.] Hairegenerator (registration number: HKP-03637), as it has been found to contain excessive mercury.

     The action was called for after a sample of the above pCm obtained through the DH's routine market surveillance was found by the Government Laboratory today to contain about 11 times the permitted limit of mercury.

     Initial investigations by the DH revealed that HCL supplied herbal ingredients of the pCm to another licensed manufacturer of pCm, Luen Wing Chinese Medicine Manufacture Company Limited (Luen Wing), to manufacture the pCm. The pCm would then be returned to HCL for packaging before its distribution to the local market.

     According to its label, the pCm is indicated for the treatment of hair loss and the formula does not include any herb that contains mercury. Preliminary investigations revealed that contamination of the pCm at either HCL or Luen Wing was unlikely. The DH's investigation is ongoing.

     "Acute mercury poisoning can cause inflammation of the mouth while prolonged exposure to mercury can damage the neurological system and kidneys," a DH spokesman said.

     The DH has not received any report of related adverse events so far. HCL has set up a hotline (2543 2472) to answer public enquiries. The DH will closely monitor the recall.

     According to Section 52 of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap 132), selling any drug not of the nature, substance or quality demanded by the purchaser is liable to a maximum penalty of $10,000 and three months' imprisonment. Upon completion of the investigation, the DH will work with the Department of Justice on prosecution matters and will also refer this case to the Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong to consider taking possible disciplinary action.

     Members of the public who have purchased the pCm should stop using it immediately. Those who have used the pCm and feel unwell should seek advice from health care professionals. People who have the above pCm should submit it to the Chinese Medicine Division of DH at 16/F, AIA Kowloon Tower, Landmark East, 100 How Ming Street, Kwun Tong, during office hours for follow-up.

Ends/Friday, August 2, 2013
Issued at HKT 19:41


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