New Zealand. The Medicines Safety Authority of the Ministry of Health in New Zealand (Medsafe) is ordering the withdrawal of several traditional Chinese medicines sold as herbal remedies since they have been found to contain scheduled medicines and toxic substances. Products to be withdrawn include
• Guan Xin Su He capsules, Long Dan Xie Gan Wan Pills, Zhiyuan Xinqinkeli sachets - all containing aristolochic acid which has been linked to severe kidney damage and urinary tract cancer
• Wei Ge Wang tablets - containing prescription medicine sildenafil
• Sang Ju Gan Mao Pian tablets - containing pharmacy-only medicines diclofenac (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent) and chlorpheniramine (an antihistamine)
• Yen Qiao Jie Du Pian capsules - containing chlorpheni-ramine, diclofenac and paracetamol
• Niu Huang Jie Du Pian tablets - containing 4% arsenic
• Xiaoke Wan pills - containing glibenclamide, a prescription-only hypoglycaemic agent
• Shuen Feng cream - containing ketoconazole, a prescription antifungal agent
• Dezhong Rhinitis drops - containing ephedrine hydrochloride.
The New Zealand Director General of Health has issued a Public Statement asking people to stop taking these products and to seek medical advice from their physicians. Medsafe has requested all importers and distributors of traditional Chinese medicines to cease all distribution and sale of these products, withdraw them from retail outlets and to ensure that other products they sell do not contain scheduled medicines. Medsafe has also written to all general medical practitioners alerting them to these products, outlining risks associated with their use and providing advice on appropriate management of people exposed to these drugs.
Media Release, 21 Jan 2003. Available from URL: http://www.medsafe.govt.nz