Immediate ban issued on traditional medicinal product in Malaysia

PHOTO: Immediate ban issued on traditional medicinal product in Malaysia

PETALING JAYA - The Health Ministry has ordered an immediate halt to the sale and use of a traditional medicinal product called Majun Burung Unta following reports of adverse reactions.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the National Pharma­ceutical Control Bureau (NPCB) had received four reports of adverse reactions involving the use of the unregistered product.

He added that tests carried out by the Malaysian Adverse Drug Reactions Monitoring Centre and NPCB had discovered traces of ­dexamethasone, which is a controlled substance under the Poison Act 1952.

Dexamethasone is a class of steroid drugs that has anti-inflammatory effects to treat serious inflammation and can only be supplied by doctors or issued through prescription.

"The adverse reactions reported were weight increase, high blood sugar level and Cushing's Syndrome," he said in a statement yesterday.

He said the product label stated that it was used to treat sexual dysfunction, heart, nerve and kidney diseases, joint ailment, glaucoma, headaches and pre-menstrual syndrome.

Dr Noor Hisham said prolonged use of dexa­methasone without professional supervision would result in weakening of the muscles, brittle bones, high blood sugar level, high blood pressure and glaucoma.

"Symptoms of Cushing's Syndrome or hypercortisolism include a moon-shaped face and enlarged upper abdomen coupled with shrinking arms and feet," he added.

He said stockists should immediately cease the sale and distribution of the product, saying that those who failed to adhere to the order were committing an offence under the Sales of Drugs Act 1952 and Control of Drugs and Cosmetic Regulations 1984.

Individual offenders could be fined RM25,000 (S$9,800) or jailed for three years or both, while companies could be fined RM50,000 (S$20,000) for the first offence and RM100,0000 (S$40,000) for subsequent ­offences.