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Woman arrested for suspected illegal sale of slimming product with undeclared and banned drug substances (with photo)

     A 43-year-old woman was arrested today (April 3) in a joint operation by the Department of Health (DH) and the Police for the illegal sale of a slimming product named Slimup Extra, which is suspected to contain undeclared and banned drug substances.

     Acting on intelligence, the DH found that the above slimming product was offered for sale through a mobile phone communication application. A sample was purchased for analysis and the test results from the Government Laboratory revealed that the product contains two undeclared and banned Western medicines, namely sibutramine and phenolphthalein. During the operation, the seller was arrested by the Police for suspected illegal sale and possession of a Part I poison and an unregistered pharmaceutical product.

     The investigation is continuing.

     Sibutramine is a Part I poison and was once used as an appetite suppressant. Since November 2010, products containing sibutramine have been banned in Hong Kong because of an increased cardiovascular risk. Phenolphthalein was once used for treating constipation, but has been banned for its possible cancer-causing effect.

     According to the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance (Cap 138), all pharmaceutical products must be registered with the Pharmacy and Poisons Board of Hong Kong before they can be sold legally in the market. Part I poisons should be sold at pharmacies under the supervision of registered pharmacists. Illegal sale or possession of unregistered pharmaceutical products and Part I poisons are criminal offences. The maximum penalty for each offence is a fine of $100,000 and two years' imprisonment.

     A DH spokesman strongly urged members of the public not to buy or consume products of unknown or doubtful composition. Weight control should be achieved through a balanced diet and appropriate exercise. The public should consult health-care professionals before using any medication for weight control.

     People who have purchased the above product should stop taking it immediately and consult healthcare professionals if they are in doubt or feeling unwell after using it. They can submit the product to DH's Drug Office at Room 1856, Wu Chung House, 213 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, during office hours for disposal.

Ends/Thursday, April 3, 2014
Issued at HKT 15:46


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