Herbal medicines found contaminated with steroids

PHOTO: Herbal medicines found contaminated with steroids

Thailand - A study has found that many herbal medication products sold in Samut Sakhon province are laced with steroids

Panuchote Tongyang, chairman of the Rural Pharmacist Society, said he conducted the study by collecting samples in the province between 2005 and 2009 and then testing them at the Department of Medical Science.

Speaking at a news conference held to release a report on the 2011 drug situation in the country, Panuchote said he had discovered that many herbal medicines used to treat diabetes, arthritis, blood pressure and muscle strain contained high levels of steroid substances.

The study also discovered that many pharmaceutical companies were violating the law by sending steroids - a controlled drug - directly to drugstores and clinics in Samut Sakhon.

"There was no information available about buyers who ordered steroid substances in the receipts issued by the pharmaceutical companies. This data need to be sent to the Food and Drug Administration," he said.

Panuchote added that provincial public health offices only looked into orders of more than 10,000 tablets of steroids.

Besides, when officials asked drugstore owners to present receipts from pharmaceutical companies about a steroid order, they usually said they had lost the papers.

"We need to develop a system to monitor the distribution of steroids to protect people's health, because these drugs are very dangerous if consumed for an extended period," he said.

Meanwhile, Kotchanuch Sangtaland of the Foundation for Consumers said studies showed that one in five patients admitted to hospitals was suffering from the side effects of drugs.