Difficulties in monitoring and enforcing laws regulating e-commerce activities have given rise to myriads of products with unsubstantiated claims like “drug-free”, “herb-based”, “natural”, “no side effects” and ”additive-free” available for purchase online, leaving unsuspecting consumers in danger of having health problems. The Department of Health in Hong Kong purchased a selection of slimming products from online vendors in late August and subsequently found Sibutramine, a banned substance in five of the product samples. Even after the authorities have taken action, such products containing Sibutramine were still widely available on different e-shopping platforms, putting consumers’ health and safety at risk. Sibutramine is a Part 1 poison listed under the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance, which was used medically as an appetite suppressant in the past. It is also a stimulant to the central nervous system, which induces excitedness, and increased heart rate and blood pressure, thus increasing the risk of heart failure and cardiovascular diseases. The Department of Health has forbidden the use of such medication in the territory since November 2010, and any unauthorized possession of this Part 1 poison is an offence.
[See PDF version for more information]