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Medicine that’s more poison

New Straits Times

Thursday, 16/06/2011

Medicine that's more poison
By Muzliza Mustafa

KUALA LUMPUR: Health officers seized traditional medicines containing a drug which was banned worldwide in the 1980s, from a shop in Batang Kali, Selangor, yesterday.

The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug called Phenylbutazone, had been banned after it was found that it had life-threatening side effects like blood disorders, gastrointestinal bleeding and leukaemia.

The drug, however, was not the only dangerous substance found in the traditional medicine which were seized yesterday.

Investigations by the Selangor Pharmaceutical Department revealed it also contained two types of steroids, which were listed under the Poison Act.

Selangor pharmaceutical enforcement department director Mohd Hatta Ahmad said the steroids, Dexamethasone and Prednisone, could only be obtained through a doctor's prescription.

The traditional medicine, sold in capsules under the name 'Perkasa Herbs', was believed to have been smuggled in from Indonesia and sold to the elderly in villages.

Victims were duped into believing the capsules could cure diabetes, dengue and other life-threatening diseases.

Hatta said the department was alerted of the product a month ago. The department launched an investigation and conducted tests on the capsules.

"In Indonesia, the product was sold under the brand, 'Antanan', but it was re-named here. Buyers were told that the product was locally made and contained organic extract."

He said the department also received an alert from the Asean Post Marketing Alert System that notified them on the result of the tests made on the capsules.

"The test results confirmed the presence of phenylbutazone and the two steroids," he said, adding users were now at risk of kidney failure, liver problems and in some cases, death.

Checks revealed that the product was sold at RM250 per box, with each box containing 24 capsules.

Hatta said one suspect, said to be the shop owner, is currently under investigation.


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