Hong Kong and the eastern bloc, in general, is known for dependence on traditional and holistic medicinal approaches. However, their popularity and use have also come under sharp criticism following claims that some patients have been victims of substandard medicines.
- Tony Wing Lai Mak, of the Margaret Hospital in Hong Kong, says that his clinic receives several patients each year who have suffered adverse effects of the medicines. Dr.Mak further says that lab results point to the same causes of infections almost amongst all the patients. According to the doctor, some of the medicines have been adulterated with harmful substances.
The Hong Kong Department of health issues regular warnings about the medicines but people are still using them in large numbers.
“These are illegal products that are damaging to people’s health and can even kill. Yet somehow, they’re still here.” Dr.Mak said, adding that they have been collecting data over the years to help monitor the situation.
Between 2005 and 2015, more than four hundred people of virtually all ages sought medical attention from the hospital after taking the unverified supplements.
From a test conducted on 487 products that patients brought into the clinics, Dr.Mak and his colleagues found over 1000 hidden ingredients comprising of both banned Western drugs, drug analogs and animal thyroid tissue.
One of the most prevalent components found in the supplements was sibutramine, an appetite suppressant that was banned following links to cardiovascular problems. Over 150 products contained sibutramine.
Over the years, eastern medicinal solutions and specifically Chinese products have gained popularity worldwide. This is precipitated by the perception that they are natural and safe. In Taiwan, a study of 2,600 Chinese medicine products found that at least a quarter of the drugs were contaminated with synthetic drugs.
The Food and Drug Administration in the United States found more than 800 adulterated substances in the supplements market.
With the massive penetration of Eastern medicine into various markets, regulation and consistent observation has become necessary.