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Medicines seized in Mong Kok raid

Two retail shops in Mong Kok were raided by police and health officials on Friday for the suspected illegal sale and possession of unregistered pharmaceutical products.
Following a public complaint, it was found the shops were selling suspected unregistered medicines. During Friday’s operation various products, including an oral gel and two ointments, were seized. Preliminary investigation indicated that the oral gel contains benzocaine while one of the ointments contains hydrocortisone and cinchocaine and the other ointment contains neomycin, polymyxin B and bacitracin. Hong Kong pharmaceutical product registration numbers were not found on any of the products’ label.
The Department of Health’s investigation is ongoing.
Benzocaine, cinchocaine and hydrocortisone are Part I poisons. Benzocaine and cinchocaine are local anaesthetics for the relief of pain and itching. Common side effects include hypersensitive reactions. Hydrocortisone is a corticosteroid. Inappropriate or excessive application of it could cause skin problems. Neomycin, polymyxin B and bacitracin are antibiotics and inappropriate use of antibiotics may lead to antibiotic resistance.
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 sold legally in the market. Part I poisons should be sold at pharmacies under the supervision of registered pharmacists. Illegal sale or possession of unregistered pharmaceutical products and Part I poisons are criminal offences. The maximum penalty for each offence is a fine of $100,000 and two years’ imprisonment. According to the Antibiotics Ordinance (Cap 137), illegal sale or possession of antibiotics is also a criminal offence. The maximum penalty for each offence is a fine of $30,000 and one year’s imprisonment.
“Use of unregistered pharmaceutical products may pose health threats to people as their safety, efficacy and quality are not guaranteed. Members of the public should not self-medicate without advice from health-care professionals,” a spokesman for the DH said.
The DH strongly urges members of the public not to buy or use unregistered pharmaceutical products. All registered pharmaceutical products should carry a Hong Kong registration number on the package in the format of “HK-XXXXX”.
People who have purchased and used the above products should stop using them and consult health-care professionals for advice if they feel unwell. They may submit the products 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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