Department mulls following Europe in drug ban

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 January, 2010, 12:00am

The Health Department is considering whether to follow European countries and ban commonly prescribed anti-obesity drugs after a major study found they increase the chance of heart attack and stroke. The European Medicines Agency on Thursday recommended that sibutramine be taken off the market after a six-year study involving nearly 10,000 patients. Sibutramine is contained in medicines such as Reductil, Reduxade and Zelium, medicines aimed at helping overweight patients who suffer with other conditions such as diabetes lose weight. It is a prescription-only medicine in Hong Kong. The secretary for food and health, Dr York Chow Yat-ngok, yesterday said the government would look into the ingredients of anti-obesity drugs, and consider banning the drugs if they were found to pose a threat to people's health. William Chui Chun-ming, vice-president of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists, said anti-obesity drugs with sibutramine were common in the city.