Po Chai Pills ordered off the shelves

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 March, 2010, 12:00am

Health authorities have ordered the recall of Po Chai Pills, a traditional Chinese medicine, after the product was recalled in Singapore, where it was found to contain drugs which can cause serious side effects.

The Department of Health yesterday directed Drug manufacturer Li Chung Shing Tong (Holdings) to recall the pills after they were found in Singapore to contain phenolphthalein and sibutramine, which can cause serious side effects, a department spokesman said.

The pills have been popular with the Chinese for more than 100 years and are said to relieve indigestion, heartburn, vomiting, diarrhoea, and bloating. They can also be used as a hangover prevention remedy.

The department said people, especially children and the elderly, should stop taking the pills immediately and should see a doctor if they felt ill after taking them.

The drug manufacturer has set up a hotline on 2564 3536 for public inquiries, and an investigation by the department is continuing.

Phenolphthalein was used for treating constipation but was banned in Hong Kong in 2001 because of its cancer-causing properties, the department said.

Sibutramine is a Western appetite suppressant. Its side effects include increased blood pressure and heart rate, psychosis and possibly seizures. People with heart problems should not take it.