One woman died and three were critically ill after paying HK$50,000 in October 2012 for "anti-cancer" blood transfusion therapy at a beauty centre. In the procedure, blood is drawn from the patient, then processed to harvest the "cytokine-induced killer cells", or CIK, found in the white blood cells. The CIK cells are multiplied in a culture solution and injected into the patient along with their own blood after two weeks. The founder of the DR beauty company that carried out the treatment, Dr Stephen Chow Heung-wing, has admitted there was no evidence the treatment worked.
Risky medical treatments in the private market face review
Health secretary says therapies across the city will be scrutinised after 4 woman fall ill
The government plans to restrict anyone other than doctors or specialists from performing high-risk treatments in the private medical market - including those offered by the beauty industry and clinics.
A city-wide review will be launched soon of all therapies offered in the private market to identify and monitor high-risk procedures, Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said yesterday. Risky procedures will be restricted to designated locations, and the government would study overseas rules to see whether the law should be changed in the longer term to control the beauty industry, he said.
Ko was speaking as two women remained in critical condition after suffering from septic shock after accepting a "health therapy" at a beauty centre that involved a blood transfusion used in treating cancer. One has also contracted the deadly superbug Mycobacterium abscessus bacterium. Two other women suffered the same effect from the treatment, with one in serious condition and the other stable.
"The patients' conditions are more or less the same as before and I am very worried as the situation can be life-threatening," Ko said. "An investigation is under way and we will not let go of anyone who is accountable."
The investigation by the Department of Health and the police was trying to determine the relationship and liability shared between the DR centre, which provided the treatment, the laboratory which processed the blood and the doctor who performed the treatment, he said.
Medical Council member Dr Tse Hung-hing said the Department of Health had promised to report medical practitioners behind questionable therapies to the council, which licenses and disciplines local doctors.
The council, which has the power to disqualify a doctor from practising for professional misconduct, would decide whether the doctors in question should face a hearing after receiving the information, Tse said.
Former council chairwoman Professor Felice Lieh-Mak said she would not comment on the case as some people involved might be subject to inquiry.
Tse said the Medical Association, of which he is president, held a meeting last night to discuss the conduct of unscrupulous beauty centres. He urged the government to tighten the law to guarantee the safety of consumers.