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Herbal pills put patients’ lives in danger

Update: March, 14/2018 - 09:00
A diabetes patient at Cần Thơ General Hospital. – Photo baocantho.vn

CẦN THƠ – Phạm Thị Hồng, 81, was hospitalised on March 2 and died two days later.

She had had diabetes for many years – but when she was taken to the hospital, the sugar level in her blood was stable. However, she had symptoms of poisoning, doctors at the Cần Thơ General Hospital said.

“She was unconscious and had difficulty breathing,” said Phan Thị Phụng, head of the Intensive Care and Poison Control Faculty of the hospital.

The family of Hồng—not the woman’s real name, to protect her privacy—said for the past year, she had switched from using modern diabetes medications to a so-called herbal traditional medicine bought from Cao Lãnh District in Đồng Tháp. The medicines are divided into many small package contains of small round pills in red, green and grey.

Before Hồng, the Cần Thơ General Hospital had received ten cases of patients with diabetes with the same symptoms of poisoning, ranging from mild to severe level. All of them had taken the same herbal medicines.

“They either had nausea, vomiting, pain, trouble breathing or were unconscious already,” Phụng, head of the poison control faculty, said.

“What is necessary to mention is that the level of blood sugar among these patients was stable, but their pH levels were low. The risk of low pH level was that patients might have really low blood pressure and sudden cardiac arrest, and doctors wouldn’t be able to do anything,” she said.

Võ Văn Bút, another patient with diabetes in Phước Thới Ward in Ô Môn District, Cần Thơ City, said he had been using the herbal medicines for one year, but stopped after he was near dead because of poisoning.

“Two months ago, I had a stomach ache and was vomiting blood and was hospitalised for emergency treatment,” Bút told Người Lao Động (The Labourer) Newspaper.

“When I was taken to the hospital, I had sudden cardiac arrest. The doctors then had to conduct intensive care and hemodialysis and dialysis,” he said.

Dangers from unoriginated pills

Following the information provided by patients’ families, an interdisciplinary inspection team conducted inspections at the houses of Lâm Kim Xuyến in Phước Thới Ward in Ô Môn District and Lê Kim Hoa in Thới Lai District. They seized more than 400,000 pills of unknown origin. They were all labelled “Chánh Đức Traditional Medicines”.

Bills and a list of receivers in other provinces like Khánh Hoà Province, Thanh Hoá Province, Tiền Giang Province and HCM City were also discovered.

Both Hoa and Xuyến didn’t have any business licences, and those who worked at their houses lacked work permits and licences.

Trần Trường Chinh, vice head of the Inspection Unit of Cần Thơ City’s Health Department, said that in the city there are some 1,000 herbal and traditional medicine businesses. They conducted inspection annually with these businesses but couldn’t check all units due to the large number.

“People should know better and not believe in herbal medicines that are spread by mouth words. The risks are high,” he told Dân Trí online newspaper.—VNS

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