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7 May 2013
Recall of mercury-tainted proprietary Chinese medicine  

     The Department of Health (DH) today (May 7) ordered a licensed wholesaler of proprietary Chinese medicine (pCm), Beijing Tong Ren Tang Hong Kong Medicine Management Limited (Tong Ren Tang), to recall from consumers a batch of pCm, namely [Tong Ren Tang] Jian Ti Wu Bu Wan (registration number: HKP-08760; batch number: 1033946), as it has been found to contain excessive mercury.

     "The action is called for after a sample of [Tong Ren Tang] Jian Ti Wu Bu Wan obtained through the DH's routine market surveillance was found to contain about five times the permitted limit of mercury by the Government Laboratory. Initial investigation revealed that the pCm was manufactured in the Mainland and was imported by Tong Ren Tang to Hong Kong for sale. The pCm is indicated for health maintenance in adults, but its ingredients could not account for the presence of mercury," a DH spokesman said.

     "Acute mercury poisoning can cause inflammation of the mouth, while prolonged exposure to mercury can damage the neurological system and kidneys," the spokesman explained.

     No adverse events related to consumption of the said pCm have been received by the DH so far. The DH's investigation is proceeding.

     Members of the public can call the wholesaler's hotline on 2587 8788 for enquiries. The DH will closely monitor the recall.

     "According to Section 52 of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap 132), selling any drug not of the nature, substance or quality demanded by the purchaser is liable to a maximum penalty of $10,000 and three months' imprisonment. Upon completion of investigation, the DH will work with the Department of Justice for prosecution matters and will also refer this case to the Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong for possible disciplinary action," the spokesman said.

     The spokesman urged members of the public to stop using the above pCm immediately. Those who have used the pCm and feel unwell should seek advice from their health-care professionals. People who have the above pCm should submit it to the Chinese Medicine Division of the DH at 16/F, AIA Kowloon Tower, Landmark East, 100 How Ming Street, Kwun Tong, Kowloon, during office hours for disposal.

Ends/Tuesday, May 7, 2013

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