2 arrested in illegal weight-loss drug bust in Thailand

2 arrested in illegal weight-loss drug bust in Thailand
PHOTO: The Nation/Asia News Network

CHIANG MAI - Two people were arrested after more than 1.6 million capsules of a weight-loss drug disguised as food supplements were seized by officials from the Department of Special Investigation and the Chiang Mai Public Health Office.

Pithakphum Kulhai, 30, and Supisama Wongsaenprasert, 28, were arrested Wednesday after officials searched a house in Tambon Mae Hia in Chiang Mai's Muang district and found 1.5 million capsules of an illegal weight-loss drug with sibutramine as the main component.

Pol Lt-Colonel Kornwat Parnpraphakorn, deputy DSI chief, told a press conference on Thursday that 1.5 million capsules were disguised as food supplements under the Aiko brand under a counterfeit licence from the Food and Drug Agency.

Earlier on Wednesday, officials searched another house in the same tambon and found 100,000 capsules of the illegal drug disguised as a food supplement under the Hi Herb Slimming brand, also with a counterfeit FDA license number.

Kornwat said the two suspects were accused of running a company that sold illegal weight-loss drugs disguised as supplements.

Sibutramine is a controlled drug that requires a doctor's prescription. It has been associated with increased cardiovascular events and strokes and has been withdrawn from the market in several countries.

Kornwat said the DSI took the action after the two brands of weight-loss drug have experienced a spike in popularity among Chiang Mai's women, teenage girls and university students.

A DSI source said a mother sought help from the agency after her daughter fell ill after using the so-called "supplementary food". The mother sent a capsule for a lab test and it was found to contain Sibutramine.

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