Adulteration of proprietary Chinese medicines and health products with undeclared drugs: experience of a tertiary toxicology laboratory in Hong Kong

Aims

Proprietary Chinese medicines (pCMs) and health products, generally believed to be natural and safe, are gaining popularity worldwide. However, the safety of pCMs and health products has been severely compromised by the practice of adulteration. The current study aimed to examine the problem of adulteration of pCMs and health products in Hong Kong.

Methods

The present study was conducted in a tertiary referral clinical toxicology laboratory in Hong Kong. All cases involving the use of pCMs or health products, which were subsequently confirmed to contain undeclared adulterants, from 2005 to 2015 were reviewed retrospectively.

Results

A total of 404 cases involving the use of 487 adulterated pCMs or health products with a total of 1234 adulterants were identified.

The adulterants consisted of approved drugs, banned drugs, drug analogues and animal thyroid tissue.

The six most common categories of adulterants detected were nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (17.7%), anorectics (15.3%), corticosteroids (13.8%), diuretics and laxatives (11.4%), oral antidiabetic agents (10.0%) and erectile dysfunction drugs (6.0%).

Sibutramine was the most common adulterant (n = 155). The reported sources of these illicit products included over-the-counter drug stores, the internet and Chinese medicine practitioners.

A significant proportion of patients (65.1%) had adverse effects attributable to these illicit products, including 14 severe and two fatal cases. Psychosis, iatrogenic Cushing syndrome and hypoglycaemia were the three most frequently encountered adverse effects.

Source: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bcp.13420/full

 In Hong Kong, Folk Remedies Are Sickening Patients

 

 

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The Pursuit of Truth in Medicine

by Donnie Yance 

http://www.donnieyance.com/the-pursuit-of-truth-in-medicine/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+DonnieYance+%28Donnie+Yance%2C+MH%2C+CN%29

This is a great article. Read it. Yance is right to warn us to be aware that there are a lot of untruths in the healing industry! Yes, on both sides of this great divide  — doctors and alternative healers!

For those don’t like to read long article, let me highlight what Yance wrote:

  • Pursuit of Truth requires being and listening, rather than doing and assuming; and slowing down rather than speeding up.
  • … the motive behind clinical research is not to prove “truth” but to have a drug or device approved by the FDA.
  • … while there is a tremendous scientific basis for the therapeutic benefits of plants and nutrients in healing, they tend to not be studied in the most widely-accepted, gold standard, rigorous method designed for drugs, yet that does not make them any less valid or “evidence based” in my opinion. In other words, “evidence based medicine” doesn’t always mean it is the right medicine or the best medicine and we need to look beyond and apply a multitude of lenses to discover this (i.e., truth).
  • … “truth” in the medical arena—including pharmaceutical drugs and various treatments—actually has little validity and can be more detrimental than doing nothing. The attempt to gain approval of a drug, device, or treatment method is not a pursuit of truth, but unfortunately, is often driven by self -interest, and lacks the necessary ingredient of wisdom.
  • When it comes to postulating truths about herbal and dietary medicine, the medical establishment is not only frequently incorrect and dogmatic, but often maintains a position that is opposite to the truth, especially when it comes to herbs.
  • Misinformation is rampant, and the internet has exacerbated the problem. … There is an abundance of bad information and a lack of wisdom and integrity to guide you towards the truth.
  • “The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge” – Daniel Boorstein
  • Truth involves a willingness to accept that the natural and the supernatural coexist. But this is not the way of modern conventional medicine. As a result, the medical profession is painfully shortsighted and makes egregious errors, including making proclamations about health that prove to be incorrect.
  • When I was five years old, my mother was told, if they removed my tonsils, it would improve my health and reduce the incidence of sore throats and infections. It wasn’t too many years later that the standard-of-care regarding prophylactic removal of the tonsils was stopped, and the tonsils were recognized as an important part of the immune system. But it was too late for me, and for millions of other children who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s.
  • I am continually appalled by how much of modern medicine is not based in truth, and worse, is accepted without any evidence. For example, not so long ago, if you had a small hormonal positive breast cancer, the standard-of-care was a mastectomy with lymph node dissection, with a full course of high dose chemotherapy that included three agents, followed by tamoxifen therapy, regardless of your age. No one questioned this practice, or asked for evidence demonstrating that the protocol significantly enhanced life or improved quality-of-life. The sad truth is that the accepted protocol did not benefit the vast majority of women. A small percentage of women were helped, but many others were irreparably damaged by the treatment, and would have been better off with no treatment except for hormone inhibition.
  • Yet herbal medicine, used for thousands of years and documented in countless historical medical textbooks, folklore, and in many cases re-validated by modern medicine, is falsely accused of not being “evidence based.”
  • In the pursuit of truth, we must seek open-mindedness.
  • … confronting cancer … Success is measured by outcome, quality of life, and health care costs, which are the most important parameters.
  • “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” – John Wooden

 

Air travel comes at a price: Slightly elevated risk of cancer

Radiation doses from body scanners and baggage X-ray machines at airport security checks are minimal, compared to actual radiation exposure from the flight itself.

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In April, Mr Tom Stuker, 63, became the world’s most frequent flier, logging 18 million miles of air travel over the last 14 years.

If his travelling behaviour is typical of business fliers, he may have eaten 6,500 inflight meals, drunk 5,250 alcoholic beverages, watched thousands of inflight movies and made around 10,000 visits to airplane toilets.

He would also have accumulated a radiation dose equivalent to that of about 1,000 chest X-rays.

COSMIC RAYS COMING AT YOU

You might think the radiation dose comes from the body scanners and baggage X-ray machines.

But radiation doses from airport security checks are trivial.

The major source of radiation exposure is from the flight itself.

This is because at high altitude, the air gets thinner. The farther you go from the earth’s surface, the fewer molecules of gas there are per volume of space.

Thinner air means fewer molecules to deflect incoming cosmic rays – radiation from outer space.

In fact, it is the accumulation of radiation dose that is the limiting factor for the maximum length of manned space flights. Too long in space and astronauts risk cata- racts, cancer and potential heart ailments when they return home.

So, what would Mr Stuker’s cumulative radiation dose be and what are his health risks?

It depends entirely on how much time he has spent in the air.

Assuming an average flight speed of 550mph, his 18 million miles would translate into 32,727 hours or 3.7 years of flight time.

The radiation dose rate at typical commercial airline flight altitude of 35,000 feet is about 0.003 millisieverts per hour.

By multiplying the dose rate by the hours of flight time, we can see that Mr Stuker has accumulated about 100mSv dose of radiation.

The primary health threat at this dose level is an increased risk of some types of cancer later in life.

Studies of atomic bomb victims, nuclear workers and medical radiation patients have allowed scientists to estimate the cancer risk for any particular radiation dose.

Assuming that low doses have risk levels proportionate to high doses, then an overall cancer risk rate of 0.005 per cent per mSv is a reasonable estimate.

Thus, Mr Stuker’s 100mSv dose would increase his lifetime risk of contracting a potentially fatal cancer by about 0.5 per cent.

The question is whether that is a high level of risk.

Most people underestimate their risk of dying from cancer. Although the exact number is debatable, about 25 per cent of men ultimately contract a potentially fatal cancer.

Mr Stuker’s 0.5 per cent cancer risk from radiation should be added to his baseline risk – from 25 per cent to 25.5 per cent.

A cancer risk increase of that size is too small to measure in a scientific way, so it must remain a theoretical increase in risk.

If you want to know your cancer risk from flying, estimate your airline miles over the years.

If you have clocked 370,000 miles, you would have a 0.01 per cent increase in the risk of contracting cancer.

However, most people do not fly 370,000 miles, which is equal to 150 flights from Los Angeles to New York, within their lifetimes.

So, for the average flier, the increased risk is far less than 0.01 per cent.

List all the benefits that you have derived from your air travel, such as job opportunities, vacation travel and family visits, and look at your increased risk again.

If you think your benefits have been meagre compared to the elevated cancer risk, maybe it is time to rethink flying.

But for many people, flying is a necessity of life and the small elevated cancer risk is worth the price.

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/air-travel-comes-at-a-price-slightly-elevated-risk-of-cancer

The surprising number of American adults who think chocolate milk comes from brown cows

Seven percent of all American adults believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows, according to a nationally representative online survey commissioned by the Innovation Center of U.S. Dairy.

If you do the math, that works out to 16.4 million misinformed, milk-drinking people. The equivalent of the population of Pennsylvania (and then some!) does not know that chocolate milk is milk, cocoa and sugar.

 

For decades, observers in agriculture, nutrition and education have griped that many Americans are basically agriculturally illiterate. They don’t know where food is grown, how it gets to stores — or even, in the case of chocolate milk, what’s in it.

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/06/15/seven-percent-of-americans-think-chocolate-milk-comes-from-brown-cows-and-thats-not-even-the-scary-part/?utm_term=.f7e1c9540535&wpisrc=nl_az_most&wpmk=1

 

Ozone therapy treatments now banned in Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry today announced the ban on ozone therapy treatments as it could lead to severe medical complications.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said a health technology assessment carried out by the Malaysian Health Technology Assessment Section (MaHTAS) revealed there was no scientific evidence to support any therapeutic benefits from the therapy.

“Moreover, the therapy exposes the users to risks of bleeding from the usage of heparin (blood thinning medicine), embolism (blockage of blood vessel from air bubbles), and infection from non-sterile instruments.

“It could also lead to permanent disability resulting from impairment of organs such as the kidneys,” he told reporters today.

As such, the ministry views the practice of ozone therapy seriously, he added.

He said the therapy claims to rejuvenate one’s skin and beauty, whiten complexion and slow the ageing process.

Dr Subramaniam also said the usage of the ozone therapy machine has also never been approved.

“Under the Medical Device Act 2012, the machine is defined as a medical device which must be registered with the Medical Device Act (MDA).

“Therefore, any establishment, manufacturer, importer or distributors who import or place the machines in the Malaysian market need to apply for an establishment licence and register the licence under the Act.

https://www.nst.com.my/news/government-public-policy/2017/05/236163/ozone-therapy-treatments-now-banned-malaysia

14-year-old girl unable to straighten her neck after excessive mobile phone usage

Spending too much time on our mobile devices brings a slew of potential health problems, including worsening eyesight or disrupted sleep due to direct and prolonged blue light exposure from phone displays, or ‘text claw’, where users’ fingers feel stiff and cramped after continuously using their phones.

However, a less well-known but no less serious impact of mobile phone usage would be the stress exerted on the neck.

A 14-year-old girl from Shandong, China is no longer able to straighten her neck as the bone alignment in her upper spine has been deformed, reported New Tang Dynasty Television.

Her neck was reported to be like that of a 50-year-old person’s.

http://health.asiaone.com/health/body-mind/14-year-old-girl-unable-straighten-her-neck-after-excessive-mobile-phone-usage

Enter hospitals alive, exit dead – BN MP jabs deputy minister

Read more:  http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/374943

PARLIAMENT:    A BN lawmaker grilled Deputy Health Minister Dr Hilmi Yahya over hospital equipment and lack of specialist doctors, claiming that in remote areas in Sarawak, those who go to hospitals end up dead.

“In government hospitals, if an equipment breaks down, it is not a matter of how many days (to fix it) but months.

“In Bintulu, if patients want to meet specialists, they have to wait for months (too).

“In Sarawak’s remote areas, people walk in to the hospitals, but leave on a trolley. They are gone (dead),” said Tiong King Sing (BN-Bintulu).

He had initially asked how much the Health Ministry was spending to improve the infrastructure of rural hospitals, as well as the reasons why hospital equipment were not well maintained.

In his reply, Hilmi said the ministry was facing challenges with their equipment because it was often old or in need of maintenance.

On the upside, Hilmi said that in 2016, the uptime for hospital equipment was at 98 percent, with some exceptions where spare parts had to be procured from overseas.

He added that the Health Ministry was constantly monitoring the maintenance of hospital equipment to ensure that it is done properly and quickly.

As for specialists, Hilmi said the Bintulu hospital had 10 such doctors.

Tiong, however, disputed this.

“This answer is wrong. There are no specialists in Bintulu. All the experts go to Kuching or Sibu, don’t ‘kong kali kong’ (say empty words) again,” he said.

Tiong also rubbished Hilmi’s answers on equipment maintenance and drew parallels between the low quality of maintenance and the state of the newly re-opened and renovated parliament building.

“This House is new, but if we step on the carpet too much, the carpet fuzz comes out,” he said, describing it in Malay as “kalau kita pijak lebih-lebih di karpet sana, dia keluar bulu, bulu-bulu keluar.”

“This is not quality, this is low quality and hospitals are the same,” he added.

His comments about carpet fuzz confused deputy speaker Ismail Mohammad Said at first, who said he did not hear the remarks properly.

This provided Tiong with another chance to take a swipe.

“This is the problem with our sound system, when the mouth is near (the microphone) you can (hear what is said) but if you are far then you can’t hear,” he added.