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Further recall of mercury-tainted proprietary Chinese medicine (with photo)

     Further to the batch recall of a registered proprietary Chinese medicine (pCm), [H.C.L.] Hairegenerator (registration number: HKP-03637), by a licensed pCm manufacturer, Hang Cheong Lung Pharmaceutical Limited (HCL), on August 2, because the pCm was found to contain excessive mercury, the Department of Health (DH) today (August 16) instructed HCL to recall from consumers all batches of the same pCm as two other batches (batch numbers 261383 and 030784) have also been found to contain excessive mercury.

     The action was called for after the Government Laboratory's results today revealed that samples from the two batches of the above pCm obtained from HCL during the DH's investigation on August 2 were found to contain about 12 times the permitted level of mercury.

     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 did not indicate evidence of local contamination of the pCm during the manufacturing process. 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 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 healthcare professionals. People who have the above pCm should submit it to the DH's Chinese Medicine Division at 16/F, AIA Kowloon Tower, Landmark East, 100 How Ming Street, Kwun Tong, during office hours for follow-up.

Ends/Friday, August 16, 2013
Issued at HKT 14:34


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