Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory

Princess Margaret, Hong Kong

Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory

Princess Margaret, Hong Kong
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Lee H.C.H.,Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory | Law C.Y.,Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory | Chen M.L.,Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory | Lam Y.H.,Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory | And 2 more authors.
Journal of the Chinese Medical Association | Year: 2014

2,4-Dinitrophenol (2,4-DNP), a yellowish compound, has historically been used in the manufacture of dyes, explosives, and fungicides. As it uncouples mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, the compound was also used as an antiobesity agent early in the past century. The compound was subsequently banned by the United States Food and Drug Administration in 1938 due to its potentially fatal adverse effects, including hyperthermia, cataract, agranulocytosis, hepatoxicity, nephrotoxicity, and cardiotoxicity. However, the popularity of 2,4-DNP as a slimming aid has appeared to increase again in recent years. The Hong Kong Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory recently confirmed two cases of self-administered 2,4-DNP with different clinical presentations to hospitals in the area. Here we describe those two cases, in an attempt to underscore the potential of misuse of this substance by body-conscious groups among the Chinese population. © 2014.


Chen S.P.,Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory
Drug safety : an international journal of medical toxicology and drug experience | Year: 2012

Aconite poisoning is a severe, life-threatening poisoning related to the use of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Despite current legislation, repeated poisoning cases are steadily encountered. The aim of the study was to summarize the clinical features and to elucidate the causative and contributory factors leading to aconite poisoning. This study was conducted within the Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory, which is the sole tertiary referral clinical toxicology laboratory in Hong Kong. This retrospective study reviewed all confirmed aconite poisoning cases handled by a clinical toxicology laboratory between April 2004 and July 2009. The diagnosis in all cases was confirmed biochemically by detecting aconitum alkaloids in urine specimens. Additionally, herbal specimens were morphologically identified and herbal formulae were studied and transcribed. The cause of poisoning for each case was determined whenever possible. Fifty-two cases were examined in this aconite poisoning case series. Neurological, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal toxicities were encountered in 49 (94.2%), 46 (88.5%) and 31 (59.6%) patients, respectively. The poisoning was severe in 6 (11.5%) patients, moderate in 17 (32.7%) patients and mild in 29 (55.8%) patients. Amongst 44 patients (84.6%) in whom the underlying reasons of poisoning could be determined, four major causes were found. These included overdose - prescription of a higher than recommended dosage of aconite herbs in 17 (32.7%) cases; 'hidden' poisoning (the aconite herb was not prescribed but dispensed inadvertently) in 17 (32.7%) cases; usage of inadequately processed herbs in 7 (13.5%) cases; and dispensary error in 2 (3.9%) cases. No case fatality was recorded. In the majority of cases in this series, the causes of poisoning can be traced to poor-quality herbs, poor quality of prescription practice, or dispensary errors. The quality issues of TCM practice should be critically addressed to minimize this poisoning threat.


Tang M.H.Y.,Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory | Chen S.P.L.,Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory | Ng S.W.,Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory | Chan A.Y.W.,Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory | Mak T.W.L.,Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory
British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology | Year: 2011

AIMS To provide an overview of illicit weight-reducing agents found in over-the-counter slimming products ingested by poisoned patients.METHODS The clinical details and analytical findings of slimming products involved in poisoning cases between 2004 and 2009 were reviewed.RESULTS Sixty-six (including one fatal) poisoning cases were encountered. Eighty-one products were analysed and found to contain undeclared prescription weight-loss drugs, drug analogues, banned drugs, drugs used for an inappropriate indication or animal thyroid tissue, with up to six illicit agents within the same product. Many products were readily available from shops or the Internet.CONCLUSIONS A rich diversity of illicit, potentially harmful weight-reducing agents was found in over-the-counter slimming products. © 2011 The Authors. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology © 2011 The British Pharmacological Society.


Ng S.W.,Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory | Ching C.K.,Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory | Chan A.Y.W.,Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory | Mak T.W.L.,Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory
Journal of Chromatography B: Analytical Technologies in the Biomedical and Life Sciences | Year: 2013

A liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method for simultaneous detection of 22 toxic plant alkaloids, including aconitum alkaloids and their hydrolyzed products (aconitine, hypaconitine, mesaconitine, yunaconitine, crassicauline A, benzoylaconine, benzoylmesaconine, benzoylhypaconine, deacetylyunaconitine, deacetylcrassicauline A), solanaceous tropane alkaloids (atropine, anisodamine, scopolamine, anisodine), sophora alkaloids (matrine, sophoridine, oxymatrine, cytisine, N-methylcytisine), strychnos alkaloids (brucine, strychnine) and colchicine, in herbal and urine samples was developed and validated. Following sample preparation by liquid-liquid extraction, chromatographic separation was achieved on Eclipse XDB C8 column. Identification was based on two multiple reaction monitoring transitions and the relative ion intensity. Method selectivity was demonstrated. The limits of detection were 5. ng/mL for all analytes, except 50. ng/mL for cytisine. The herbal matrix effects ranged from 89% to 118%, whereas the urine matrix effects were between 91% and 109% for all analytes except cytisine (57%) and N-methylcytisine (67%). The urine extraction recovery ranged from 74% to 110% for all analytes, except cytisine (15%) and oxymatrine (30%). With the good extraction efficiency of the other major sophora alkaloids, the relatively low extraction recovery of the minor sophora alkaloids cytisine and oxymatrine did not affect identification of sophora alkaloids as a group. Carry-over was minimal at less than 0.1%. The method was successfully applied in analysis of 170 cases of suspected herbal poisoning, with aconitum alkaloids, sophora alkaloids, solanaceous tropane alkaloids, and strychnos alkaloids being detected in 53, 42, 18, and 6 cases, respectively. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


Ching C.K.,Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory | Lam Y.H.,Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory | Chan A.Y.W.,Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory | Mak T.W.L.,Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory
British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology | Year: 2012

Aims: The current study aims to examine the problem of adulteration of herbal antidiabetic products with undeclared pharmaceuticals, including both registered and banned drugs. Methods: All cases involving use of adulterated herbal antidiabetic products referred to a tertiary centre for clinical toxicology analysis from 2005 to 2010 inclusive were retrospectively reviewed. The patients' demographic characteristics, clinical presentations, medical history, drug history and the analytical findings of the herbal antidiabetic products were studied. Results: A total of 27 cases involving use of 29 adulterated herbal antidiabetic products were identified. Seventeen of the patients (63%) had clinical toxicities associated with the illicit products. Hypoglycaemia was the most common adverse effect, followed by lactic acidosis. Analysis of the 29 illicit herbal antidiabetic products revealed eight undeclared registered or banned oral antidiabetic agents, namely glibenclamide (n= 22), phenformin (n= 18), metformin (n= 6), rosiglitazone (n= 6), gliclazide (n= 2), glimepiride (n= 2), nateglinide (n= 1) and repaglinide (n= 1). Non-antidiabetic drugs were also detected in some products. Up to four adulterants were detected within the same product. Conclusions: Adulteration of herbal antidiabetic products with undeclared pharmaceuticals is a significant yet under-recognized problem. Patients taking these illicit products could be at risk of potentially fatal adverse effects. It is important to educate the public to avoid taking pCMs of dubious source. Effective regulatory measures should be put in place to address the problem. © 2011 The Authors. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology © 2011 The British Pharmacological Society.


Chen S.P.L.,Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory | Ng S.W.,Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory | Poon W.T.,Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory | Lai C.K.,Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory | And 5 more authors.
Drug Safety | Year: 2012

Background: Aconite poisoning is a severe, life-threatening poisoning related to the use of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Despite current legislation, repeated poisoning cases are steadily encountered. Objective: The aim of the study was to summarize the clinical features and to elucidate the causative and contributory factors leading to aconite poisoning. Methods: This study was conducted within the Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory, which is the sole tertiary referral clinical toxicology laboratory in Hong Kong. This retrospective study reviewed all confirmed aconite poisoning cases handled by a clinical toxicology laboratory between April 2004 and July 2009. The diagnosis in all cases was confirmed biochemically by detecting aconitum alkaloids in urine specimens. Additionally, herbal specimens were morphologically identified and herbal formulae were studied and transcribed. The cause of poisoning for each case was determined whenever possible. Results: Fifty-two cases were examined in this aconite poisoning case series. Neurological, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal toxicities were encountered in 49 (94.2%), 46 (88.5%) and 31 (59.6%) patients, respectively. The poisoning was severe in 6 (11.5%) patients, moderate in 17 (32.7%) patients and mild in 29 (55.8%) patients. Amongst 44 patients (84.6%) in whom the underlying reasons of poisoning could be determined, four major causes were found. These included overdose-prescription of a higher than recommended dosage of aconite herbs in 17 (32.7%) cases; 'hidden' poisoning (the aconite herb was not prescribed but dispensed inadvertently) in 17 (32.7%) cases; usage of inadequately processed herbs in 7 (13.5%) cases; and dispensary error in 2 (3.9%) cases. No case fatality was recorded. Conclusion: In the majority of cases in this series, the causes of poisoning can be traced to poor-quality herbs, poor quality of prescription practice, or dispensary errors. The quality issues of TCM practice should be critically addressed to minimize this poisoning threat. © 2012 Springer International Publishing AG. All rights reserved.


PubMed | Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory and United Christian Hospital
Type: Case Reports | Journal: Hong Kong medical journal = Xianggang yi xue za zhi | Year: 2014

Traditional Chinese medicine is commonly used locally, not only for disease treatment but also for improving health. Many people prepare soups containing herbs or herbal decoctions according to recipes and general herbal formulae commonly available in books, magazines, and newspapers without consulting Chinese medicine practitioners. However, such practice can be dangerous. We report five cases of poisoning from 2007 to 2012 occurring as a result of inappropriate use of herbs in recipes or general herbal formulae acquired from books. Aconite poisoning due to overdose or inadequate processing accounted for three cases. The other two cases involved the use of herbs containing Strychnos alkaloids and Sophora alkaloids. These cases demonstrated that inappropriate use of Chinese medicine can result in major morbidity, and herbal formulae and recipes containing herbs available in general publications are not always safe.


PubMed | Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory
Type: Case Reports | Journal: Hong Kong medical journal = Xianggang yi xue za zhi | Year: 2015

To investigate adulteration of proprietary Chinese medicines with corticosteroids in Hong Kong.Case series with cross-sectional analysis.A tertiary clinical toxicology laboratory in Hong Kong.All patients using proprietary Chinese medicines adulterated with corticosteroids and referred to the authors centre from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2012.Patients demographic data, clinical presentation, medical history, drug history, laboratory investigations, and analytical findings of the proprietary Chinese medicines were analysed.The records of 61 patients who consumed corticosteroid-adulterated proprietary Chinese medicines were reviewed. The most common corticosteroid implicated was dexamethasone. Co-adulterants such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and histamine H1-receptor antagonists were detected in the proprietary Chinese medicine specimens. Among the patients, seven (11.5%) required intensive care, two (3.3%) died within 30 days of presentation, and 38 (62.3%) had one or more complications that were potentially attributable to exogenous corticosteroids. Of 22 (36.1%) patients who had provocative adrenal function testing performed, 17 (77.3% of those tested) had adrenal insufficiency.The present case series is the largest series of patients taking proprietary Chinese medicines adulterated with corticosteroids. Patients taking these illicit products are at risk of severe adverse effects, including potentially fatal complications. Adrenal insufficiency was very common in this series of patients. Assessment of adrenal function in these patients, however, has been inadequate and routine rather than discretionary testing of adrenal function is indicated in this group of patients. The continuing emergence of proprietary Chinese medicines adulterated with western medication indicates a persistent threat to public health.


PubMed | Kwong Wah Hospital, Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory, Princess Margaret Hospital and Queen Mary Hospital
Type: | Journal: Scientific reports | Year: 2015

We assessed the Chinese version of the Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST-10) for identifying illicit drug use during pregnancy among Chinese population. Chinese pregnant women attending their first antenatal visit or their first unbooked visit to the maternity ward were recruited during a 4-month study period in 2011. The participants completed self-administered questionnaires on demographic information, a single question on illicit drug use during pregnancy and the DAST-10. Urine samples screened positive by the urine Point-of-Care Test were confirmed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. DAST-10 performance was compared with three different gold standards: urinalysis, self-reported drug use, and evidence of drug use by urinalysis or self-report. 1214 Chinese pregnant women participated in the study and 1085 complete DAST-10 forms were collected. Women who had used illicit drugs had significantly different DAST-10 scores than those who had not. The sensitivity of DAST-10 for identify illicit drug use in pregnant women ranged from 79.2% to 33.3% and specificity ranged from 67.7% to 99.7% using cut-off scores from 1 to 3. The ~ 80% sensitivity of DAST-10 using a cut-off score of 1 should be sufficient for screening of illicit drug use in Chinese pregnant women, but validation tests for drug use are needed.


PubMed | Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory
Type: Case Reports | Journal: Journal of the Chinese Medical Association : JCMA | Year: 2014

2,4-Dinitrophenol (2,4-DNP), a yellowish compound, has historically been used in the manufacture of dyes, explosives, and fungicides. As it uncouples mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, the compound was also used as an antiobesity agent early in the past century. The compound was subsequently banned by the United States Food and Drug Administration in 1938 due to its potentially fatal adverse effects, including hyperthermia, cataract, agranulocytosis, hepatoxicity, nephrotoxicity, and cardiotoxicity. However, the popularity of 2,4-DNP as a slimming aid has appeared to increase again in recent years. The Hong Kong Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory recently confirmed two cases of self-administered 2,4-DNP with different clinical presentations to hospitals in the area. Here we describe those two cases, in an attempt to underscore the potential of misuse of this substance by body-conscious groups among the Chinese population.

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