Acting upon a public complaint, the Department of Health (DH) and the Police conducted a joint operation on 17 July and raided three retail shops in Mong Kok—suspected for illegal sale and possession of unregistered pharmaceutical products.

Unregistered pharmaceutical products containing controlled ingredients


Although investigation is still ongoing, preliminary findings indicated that the external preparations seized during the operation contained controlled ingredients including hydrocortisone, prednisolone, triamcinolone acetonide and clindamycin.

"Hydrocortisone, prednisolone and triamcinolone acetonide are Part 1 poisons, which are steroidal drugs for treating inflammation. Inappropriate or excessive application of the drugs could cause skin problems," the DH spokesman said.

Products that contain the controlled ingredient, hydrocortisone. Photo credit: Department of Health (DH)
Products that contain the controlled ingredient, hydrocortisone. Photo credit: Department of Health (DH)

“Clindamycin is an antibiotic used for treating bacterial infection and may cause side-effects such as hypersensitive reactions. Part 1 poisons and antibiotics should be used under the advice of medical practitioners.”

Product that contains the controlled ingredient, clindamycin. Photo credit: Department of Health (DH)
Product that contains the controlled ingredient, clindamycin. Photo credit: Department of Health (DH)

According to the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance (Cap 138), all pharmaceutical products must be registered with the Pharmacy and Poisons Board of Hong Kong before they can be sold legally in the market. Illegal sale and possession of unregistered pharmaceutical products and Part I poisons are criminal offences. The maximum penalty for each offence is a fine of $100,000 and two years' imprisonment.

In addition, the Antibiotics Ordinance (Cap 137) also prohibits illegal sale and possession of antibiotics. Offenders are liable to a maximum penalty of a $30,000 fine and one year's imprisonment for each offence.

DH noted that all registered pharmaceutical products should carry a Hong Kong registration number on the package in the format of "HK-XXXXX".

The DH also warned members of the public not to buy or use unregistered pharmaceutical products as their safety, efficacy and quality are not guaranteed. The department has also reminded the public not to self-medicate without advice from healthcare professionals. MIMS

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