Chinese medicines pulled from shelf

By Errol Kiong

Health authorities have stopped sales of five traditional Chinese medicines after they were found to contain undeclared prescription drugs for weight loss and erectile dysfunction.

The products have been seized and removed from shelves after investigations by the Ministry of Health's medicine safety arm, Medsafe.

One product, labelled Dai Dai Hua Jiao Nang, contained weight-loss drug sibutramine. The drug can cause increased blood pressure and heart rates, and cannot be safely taken by those with conditions such as glaucoma, mental illness and severe liver or kidney problems. It can also interfere with some antidepressants and migraine treatments.

Four products were found to contain erectile dysfunction medicine sildenafil, which is known to interfere with some heart medications and could prove fatal to some.

The ministry has no reliable information on how many may be taking these products but Health ministry director-general Stephen McKernan said people should stop taking them immediately. They should also seek medical advice if they had felt unwell while taking these products or after stopping.

Investigations began after a complaint that a retail outlet had sold a product suspected of containing an undeclared prescription medicine.

Officials are also probing allegations the products have been sold on request under the counter. The distributor could be prosecuted.

THE DRUG LIST: Products found to contain sildenafil, a prescription medicine for treating erectile dysfunction:

*Darling capsules (in silver foil with green print).

*Dali capsules (in silver foil with green print).

*Spanish Fly capsules (in silver foil with green print).

*Unnamed orange capsules (in plastic and silver foil blister with green print).

*Products found to contain sibutramine, a prescription medicine for weight loss:

*Dai Dai Hua Jiao Nang.

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