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DH Warns Public About Slimming Product Containing Banned Substance

Photo shows the aforementioned slimming product. Photo from Department of Health

HONG KONG — The Department of Health (DH) issued an urgent appeal to the public on Monday, urging them to refrain from purchasing or consuming a slimming product with a Korean name after it was discovered to contain an undisclosed controlled and banned drug ingredient.

The DH’s action was prompted by a complaint from a concerned citizen, which led to the acquisition of a sample of the product through a popular social media platform. Analysis conducted by the Government Laboratory unveiled the presence of sibutramine, a substance classified as a Part 1 poison under the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance (Cap. 138). The investigation by the DH is currently ongoing.

Sibutramine, once employed as an appetite suppressant, has been prohibited in Hong Kong since November 2010 due to its association with an increased risk of cardiovascular complications.

Under the provisions of the Ordinance, all pharmaceutical products must be registered with the Pharmacy and Poisons Board of Hong Kong before they can be legally sold within the market. The possession or sale of unregistered pharmaceutical products or Part 1 poisons is regarded as a criminal offense. Violators may face a maximum penalty of a fine amounting to $100,000 and imprisonment for up to two years for each offense.

In light of this discovery, a spokesman for the DH issued a strong warning, emphasizing the importance of not purchasing products with uncertain or questionable compositions, particularly those obtained from unknown sources. Individuals who have already purchased the aforementioned product are urged to discontinue its use immediately. If any adverse health effects are experienced following consumption, it is advised to consult with healthcare professionals for guidance.

The spokesman further stressed that maintaining a healthy weight should be achieved through a well-balanced diet and appropriate exercise. It is recommended that the public seek advice from healthcare professionals before considering the use of any medication for weight control. To access additional information, individuals may visit the Drug Office of the DH’s website, where they can find “Health message on overweight problem and slimming products” and “Slimming products with undeclared Western drug ingredients.”

For those concerned about the disposal of the product, the DH has made arrangements for the public to submit it to the Drug Office at Room 1801, Wu Chung House, 213 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, during regular office hours.

The DH’s alert serves as a stern reminder for consumers to exercise vigilance when purchasing and consuming weight loss products, and to prioritize their health and well-being above all else.

Department of Health
Hotline: 2572 2068
Website: www.dh.gov.hk

Address for Product Disposal:
Drug Office, Department of Health
Room 1801, Wu Chung House
213 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai
Office Hours: Monday to Friday (except public holidays), 9:00 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.