DH warns public of dangerous slimming product containing controlled substances

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8th December 2023 – (Hong Kong) The Department of Health (DH) has issued an appeal to the public on 8th December, urging them to refrain from purchasing or consuming a slimming product named “simple heart SPECIFIC SLIMMING PRODUCT.” The DH’s warning comes after it was discovered that the product contains undisclosed controlled and banned drug ingredients.

Prompted by a public complaint, the DH procured a sample of the aforementioned product from a social media platform for analysis. Test results conducted by the Government Laboratory revealed the presence of sibutramine, N-desmethylsibutramine, and frusemide in the sample. These substances are categorized as Part 1 poisons under the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance (Cap. 138). The DH’s investigation into the matter is ongoing.

Sibutramine, formerly used as an appetite suppressant, has been banned in Hong Kong since November 2010 due to an increased risk of cardiovascular complications. N-desmethylsibutramine is structurally similar to sibutramine. Frusemide, on the other hand, is a diuretic employed in the treatment of high blood pressure, heart failure, and edema. Adverse effects associated with frusemide usage include thirst, dizziness, headaches, and rapid or irregular heartbeat.

In accordance with the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance, all pharmaceutical products must be registered with the Pharmacy and Poisons Board of Hong Kong before they can be legally sold in the market. The illegal sale or possession of unregistered pharmaceutical products or Part 1 poisons is considered a criminal offence. The maximum penalty for each offence is a fine of HK$100,000 and a two-year prison sentence.

A spokesperson from the DH strongly urged the public to refrain from purchasing products with unknown or questionable compositions and to avoid consuming products from unidentified sources. Individuals who have already purchased the aforementioned slimming product are advised to cease consumption immediately. Should they experience any adverse effects after consumption, they should seek advice from healthcare professionals.