Adulterated traditional-herbal medicinal products and its safety signals in Malaysia


Ariffin S.H., Wahab I.A., Hassan Y., Abd Wahab M.S. 


Drug, Healthcare and Patient Safety




133 – 140




Background: Usage of traditional-herbal medicines (THM) for various illnesses has been increased around the world, so does the adulteration of these products with hazardous compounds. There are limited Malaysian data that have been published on the characteristics trend and adverse events associated with adulterated THM products. Aim: This study described characteristics of adulterated THM products in Malaysia and aimed to quantify THM products’ safety signals of adverse reactions (ARs). Methods: THM products that were seized by Pharmacy Enforcement Division between 2008 and 2014 were extracted and analysed for 59,440 THM products. Of these, only 6452 THM products with complete information were included in the final analyses. Safety signalling tools were used to measure AR signals from AR reports obtained from the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency Adverse Drug Reaction Database. Results: More than half of adulterated THM products originated from countries outside of Malaysia, with the majority were from Indonesia. The most common claimed indication of adulterated THM products was for pain and fever relief, while steroids were the most common adulterant. AR signals were generated for cough and cold products for respiratory and thoracic disorders, weight-loss products for cardiac disorders, and women’s health products for reproductive and breast disorders. Conclusion: Health authorities from various fields can work collaboratively by implementing strategic actions that include the use of safety signalling tools to curb the increasing number of adulterated THM products in the Malaysian market.


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