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

     The Department of Health (DH) today (May 13) instructed the registration holder of a proprietary Chinese medicine (pCm) named [OIHP] Refined Huang Lien Shang Qing Pian (registration number: HKP-08420), Peking Health Products Company (Peking Health Products), to recall from consumers one of its batches (batch number: 130303A), as it has been found to contain excessive arsenic.

     The action was called for after a sample of [OIHP] Refined Huang Lien Shang Qing Pian obtained during the DH's market surveillance was found by the Government Laboratory to contain about 1.3 times the maximum permitted level of arsenic.  Preliminary investigation revealed that the pCm was manufactured in the Mainland and imported by Peking Health Products for sale.
     "The ingredients of the pCm do not include any Chinese herbal medicine that is known to contain arsenic. Peking Health Products has set up a hotline at 2424 7676 for related enquiries. As a precautionary measure, Peking Health Products has also voluntarily recalled all batches of the above-mentioned pCms from consumers. The DH will closely monitor the recall," a DH spokesman said.

     According to its label, the pCm is used for relieving fever and pain. The spokesman explained that arsenic is a heavy metal and acute poisoning may cause severe vomiting, diarrhoea, confusion and coma. Prolonged exposure to arsenic can adversely affect the function of the liver, kidney and heart. Young children are particularly vulnerable. So far, no adverse reports related to the use of the pCm have been received by the DH. The DH's investigation is ongoing.    

     "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 a fine of $10,000 and three months' imprisonment. Upon completion of investigations, the DH will work with the Department of Justice on prosecution matters. The DH will also refer this case to the Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong for possible disciplinary action," the spokesman remarked.     

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

Ends/Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Issued at HKT 19:15


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