PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry has cautioned Malaysians against consuming several brands of traditional medicine from China and Hong Kong.
They include products manufactured by the Beijing Tong Ren Tang, under brand names Niu Huang Jie Du Pian and Jian Ti Wu Bu Ban, which reportedly contained high levels of arsenic and mercury respectively.
Two other products by the Chinese manufacturer are Niu Huang Chien Jin San and Siau Er Zhi Pau Wan, suspected to contain mercury sulphide.
Another two products - Bak Foong pills produced by the Hong Kong Medicine Manufactory and Hairegenerator by Hong Kong Hang Cheong Lung Pharmaceutical Limited - are said to contain high levels of plumbum and mercury respectively.
The Malaysia National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau (NPCB) confirmed that these products were not registered with the Drug Control Authority (DCA).
“We urge the public not to buy or use these products because their quality and safety cannot be guaranteed.
"Those who are already taking these products are advised to stop consumption.
“Traditional products that are marketed in Malaysia must be registered with the bureau, which will examine the quality and safety of the products, while the DCA will monitor to ensure the quality of these registered products are maintained,” the statement said.
Arsenic, plumbum and mercury are heavy metals which could exist in the environment and produced through human activities, such as in the production of industrial waste and the use of pesticides.
The bureau said an over exposure to arsenic can cause cancer and effects of poisoning, while an excessive intake of plumbum may cause anemia and damage to the joints, brain and kidney.
Mercury poisoning has been reported to cause symptoms such as itchiness, skin colour change, swelling and nervous system damage.
Consumers are urged to check the registration status of pharmaceutical drugs at www.bpfk.gov.my or call 03-7883 5400 and lodge a report with the Health Ministry if any unregistered drugs are found to be sold in the market by writing to email@example.com or call 03-7841 3200/ 3396.