Stringent regulation of traditional medicines is urgently needed

Traditional Chinese medicines for slimming still cause health problems and stringent regulation is urgently needed, according to a letter in this weeks BMJ.

Researchers at Southend Hospital in Essex analysed several slimming preparations and the urine of several patients who had been attending a particular Chinese herbalist for weight loss remedies.

They found a high concentration of fenfluramine in tablets supplied to patients and also in the patients urine.

After reports of an association with pulmonary hypertension, fenfluramine was withdrawn even as a prescription only medicine in 1997. Its use as described is obviously illegal, say the authors. This case is now under investigation by the Medicines Control Agency, which has yet to establish exactly where in the chain of supply adulteration with fenfluramine occurred.

The vast majority of Chinese herbalists and practitioners of other traditional medicines are responsible, professional, and caring, say the authors. Our recent experience, however, highlights how the publics trend to believe, often with great naivety, in natural remedies can be abused. Stringent regulation of traditional medicines, at least to the standards of conventional practice, is urgently needed.


Contact: Emma Wilkinson
BMJ-British Medical Journal

Page: 1

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