Police raid clinic at the guts of diet pill racket
Police and health officers swooped on a Cheung Sha Wan clinic yesterday following Sing Tao Probe's reporting that dozens of "diet pill scalpers" were queuing up daily to get prescriptions before selling the capsules for as much as HK$600 to middlemen, who then resell them in the mainland for over 1,000 yuan (HK$.
The raid came soon after Sing Tao Probe reported that "patients" suspected to be reselling a prescribed weight-loss drug, Panbesy, were forming long queues outside the clinic.
In a statement yesterday, the Department of Health said: "Subsequent to a media report that some patients may have obtained a slimming drug named Panbesy from a medical practitioner for reselling purposes, the DH and police raided the concerned clinic."
No one has been arrested but authorities said investigations are ongoing.
"The department reminds the public that it is an offense to give or resell prescribed drugs to others," it said.
It said phentermine - the chemical in Panbesy - is a dangerous drug and patients should strictly follow doctors' instructions in use of the drug.
Under the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, trafficking and illegal sales of a dangerous drug is a criminal offense that carried a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a HK$5 million fine upon conviction.
A Sing Tao Probe report found the queues to be a daily occurence, with some of the healthy-looking women in their 20s or 30s suspected of being "sellers" rather than "patients."
A group of 10 mainland women, suspected to be buyers, were also seen appearing repeatedly outside the clinic.
Some patients were annoyed with the long queues, which hindered them from visiting the doctor.
"There are 10 to 20 people gathering in the clinic but they are not patients. I give up," one said, quitting the queue.
Some of the "patients" were seen handing over bags of blue-white pills to others, sparking suspicions of a resale.
A mainlander suspected to be one of the scalpers told a reporter she and her colleagues are looking to "buy as many as they can," with their best daily haul being 38 packets.
She was seen buying drugs from many people near the clinic. Some also helped her to acquire them for HK$500 to HK$600.
Posts on the e-commerce platform, Xiaohongshu, showed diet pill scalpers selling them for more than 1,000 yuan.
A scalper said that Shenzhen no longer offers Panseby, forcing people to seek itelsewhere, such as here, leading to scalpers coming into the picture.
The doctor - charging HK$300 each time with the diet pill provided - said he did not know about any resale. He is not apparently taking in new weight-loss related cases.
Society of Hospital Pharmacists president William Chui Chun-ming said Panbesy is a drug that is similar to amphetamine, a strong central nervous system stimulant, with the danger of death in serious cases if one takes it without doctor's prescription.
Other effects include increases in blood pressure and the heart rate and the risk of heart failure.