UK MHRA warns against unlicensed Chinese drug

Herbal medicine distributed to 20 traditional Chinese and herbal medicine outlets

Aristolochia is banned in the UK

More than 900 packs of a potentially dangerous traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) are currently on the UK market despite warnings issued by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The unlicensed herbal product Jingzhi Kesou Tan Chuan Wan was distributed to 20 TCM and herbal medicine outlets throughout the UK.

Ekong International (UK) issued a recall in February 2010, however, more than 75% of the stock brought in from China has still not been returned.

The MHRA said new labelling in English had been applied to packs to conceal the original label, which contained the Chinese symbols for Aristolochia, a toxic and carcinogenic plant derivative banned in the UK in 1999.

Exposure to aristolochic acids can result in kidney failure and the development of cancer, particularly of the urinary tract.

MHRA Head of Herbal Policy, Richard Woodfield, said: ‘This is a clear example where natural does not necessarily mean safe. Aristolochia is a highly toxic plant that can cause serious injury and even death if taken.

‘I would strongly advise anyone who has used this product to stop taking it and immediately to consult their doctor.’