Retail shops raided for suspected illegal sale of unregistered pharmaceutical product (with photo)

     Two retail shops in Mong Kok were raided today (March 20) in a joint operation by the Department of Health (DH) and the Police for suspected illegal sale and possession of an unregistered pharmaceutical product labelled to contain Part I poison.

     Acting upon a public compliant, it was found that retail shops were offering for sale a slimming product which was labelled as containing orlistat. Orlistat is a Part I poison and a prescription medicine which should only be used under the advice of a medical doctor and can only be supplied by pharmacies under the supervision of a registered pharmacist upon doctor's prescription.

     During the operation today, a woman aged 33 was arrested by the Police for suspected illegal sale and possession of Part I poisons and unregistered pharmaceutical products.

     The DH's investigation is continuing.

     Orlistat is used for the treatment of obesity. Its side effects include faecal urgency, fatty stool, increased frequency of defaecation, faecal incontinence, headache and abdominal pain. Severe liver injuries may also be induced.

     According to the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance (Cap 138), illegal sale and possession of Part I poisons and unregistered pharmaceutical products are criminal offences. The maximum penalty for each offence is a fine of $100,000 and two years' imprisonment.

     "Weight control should be achieved through a balanced diet and appropriate exercise. The public should consult healthcare professionals before using any medication for weight control. They should not use controlled medicines on their own without advice from a doctor, " a DH spokesman said.

     All registered pharmaceutical products should carry a Hong Kong registration number on the label in the format of "HK-XXXXX". Safety, quality and efficacy of unregistered pharmaceutical products are not guaranteed.

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

Ends/Friday, March 20, 2015
Issued at HKT 19:14