National Pharmacy News

Title: Deadly diet pills - Distributor to be charged
Date: 21-Feb-2007
Category: The New Straits Times

Deadly diet pills - Distributor to be charged

21 February, 2007

KUALA LUMPUR: The slimming pill believed to have caused the death of a woman was ordered off the shelves by the Health Ministry but this has been ignored. The distributor of Kintop Slimming capsule will be charged under the Poisons Act 1953 and faces a fine of RM3,000 or a year?s jail or both.

The company in Subang was given several warnings to ensure the slimming pills were withdrawn from the market after the product was deregistered by the Health Ministry last August.

Health Ministry pharmaceutical services division director Datuk Mohd Zin Che Awang said the company was believed to have continued to supply the pills to retail outlets.

"Despite our directive and warning, the company continued to sell the banned slimming product," he said, adding that prosecution of its executives was imminent.

Housewife Normala Shahidan, 33, died at the Alor Star Hospital?s intensive care unit on Thursday from blood poisoning and kidney complications.

She had been taking the banned pills to reduce weight.

Director-General of Health Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said the distributor of the slimming pill may face further court action if it was proven that Normala?s death was related to taking the product.

The Health Ministry is also trying to ascertain the number of people who may have been taking the product.

In Kedah, at least four people developed side-effects after taking Kintop slimming capsules.

Kedah Consumers Association president Datuk Yusof Ismail said the consumers in their 20s and 30s took the pills to get rid of excess pounds but ended up seeking medical treatment.

He said one of the complainants was hospitalised in the intensive care unit of the Alor Star Hospital for heart problems after taking the pills for five months.

He said the complainants bought the capsules from direct-selling agents for RM350 in the hope of shedding weight quickly.

Norizan Ahmad, 44, who sold the slimming pills and slimming tea to Normala claimed he was unaware of the adverse effects to health or that the product was banned.

"I became an agent after my wife reduced her weight from 70kg to 58kg within a short period of time.

"That was why I was confident in recommending it to other customers, including Normala," he said.

He said he had recruited about 100 other people to sell the product.

Mohd Zin advised Normala?s family to sue the company if it was proven that the pills had caused her death.

The pharmaceutical enforcement division has seized RM6 million worth of Kintop slimming capsules in Kuala Lumpur since last August.

Mohd Zin said the company registered its product as a herbal compound but when samples were sent for analysis, they were found to be adulterated with sibutramine.

Sibutramine, an agent for the treatment of obesity, is a controlled substance, which only doctors can prescribe.


By Annie Freeda Cruez and Alina Simon


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