Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Chinese medicine outlets probed

A recent BBC investigation has found that scores of traditional Chinese medicine stores in Britain's high streets are being investigated for selling illegal medicines. The BBC discovered that 67 outlets selling Chinese medicines are under suspicion.

It is estimated that 6,000 stores across the country offer treatment for conditions ranging from eczema to the menopause. But the industry, although growing in popularity, is largely unregulated.

At the Herb Garden store in Leigh on Sea, Essex, an undercover reporter from the BBC was sold a herbal slimming pill and told it contained rhubarb and honeysuckle. Tests showed it contained fenfluarmine - an illegal pharmaceutical considered to be so dangerous that it is banned in most countries worldwide, including the UK.

The owner of the store was prosecuted earlier this year for illegally selling the same drug. She was fined £30,000 with another £20,000 in court costs. The maximum sentence for selling an illegal medicine is two years imprisonment.

(Not long enough.)

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