Online slimming product vendor arrested

An online slimming product retailer has been arrested after a joint investigation by police officers and the Department of Health.

The 19-year-old woman was caught after a complaint was received from a member of the public that a Hong Kong vendor was selling various unlabelled slimming products claimed to be obtained from overseas. According to the Department of Health (DH), upon analysis, some of these products were found to contain various Part 1 poisons including hydrochlorothiazide, fluoxetine and omeprazole.

The woman was arrested on Thursday night and charged with the illegal sale of Part 1 poisons and unregistered pharmaceutical products. Investigations are continuing.

Meanwhile, the DH has appealed to members of the public not to buy or consume unlabelled slimming products that may contain controlled medicine ingredients.

slimming-pill

“Hydrochlorothiazide is used for the treatment of hypertension and its side effects include low blood pressure and electrolytes imbalance. Fluoxetine is used for treatment of mood disorder and may cause hallucination and insomnia. Omeprazole is used for managing gastric and duodenal diseases and may cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. Medicines containing these ingredients should only be supplied by pharmacies under the supervision of a registered pharmacist,” said a spokesman.

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 legally sold in the market. Illegal sale and possession of Part 1 poisons and unregistered pharmaceutical products are criminal offences. The maximum penalty for each offence is a fine of $100,000 and two years’ imprisonment.

A DH spokesman said all registered pharmaceutical products should carry a Hong Kong registration number on the package in the format of HK-XXXXX. Safety, efficacy and quality of unregistered pharmaceutical products are not guaranteed.

“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,” the spokesman advised.

“People who have purchased these products should stop taking them immediately and consult healthcare professionals if they are in doubt or feeling unwell.”

The products can be submitted 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.

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