A Chinese medicine which can cause cancer is on sale in the UK despite repeated warnings to take it off the market, a regulator said today.
More than 900 packs of the herbal medicine Jingzhi Kesou Tan Chuan Wan are thought to be circulating despite a recall by the distributor. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said today that the unlicensed product was distributed to 20 shops and clinics selling traditional Chinese and herbal medicines.
Ekong International (UK) Ltd, which distributes the tablets, issued a recall last month but more than three-quarters of the stock has still not been returned. Packs of the product, brought to the UK from China, have had a new English label put on to hide the original label which contained the Chinese symbols for Aristolochia, a banned toxic and carcinogenic derivative of a plant.
Exposure to aristolochic acids can cause in kidney failure and cancer, particularly of the urinary tract, the MHRA said.
The medicine is packed in white plastic bottles, each containing 180 round white tablets.
Richard Woodfield, head of herbal policy at the MHRA, 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 to immediately consult their doctor."