22 people arrested for selling adulterated diet pills

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB), dispatching over 250 police nationwide across the Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung, Penghu and other regions, conducted a major crackdown yesterday on the sale and adulteration of nonprescription slimming products, arresting over 22 people and confiscating 20,000 pills. Primary police investigation has identified married couple Hou Wei-shi and Lai Hsiao-ling as the main suspects in distributing the counterfeit dietary supplements, unlawfully making over NT$20 million in profits. Twenty others who reportedly work under them have also been arrested. According to Chunghua Prosecutors Office, the couple founded NewStar Biotechnology Company (http://www.newstarbio.com.tw/) last July, creating Taipei City and Kaohsiung City branches that serve as the parent company to nine smaller businesses. Police also searched two prominent drug stores, DingDing Pharmacy and Yes Chain, which were found to carry the prohibited products. Both companies have publicly announced they would remove the illegal products. Yes Chain provided toxicology tests that proved that they no longer stock products with banned substances.

According to CIB reports, the couple imported from Canada dietary supplements that contain undeclared substances like the pharmaceutical analogue n-desmethyl-sibutramine, repackaging the bottles and marketing them as the slimming product “Beauteeplus.” Other products such as the SOD beverage and pills under the name of “Ai-hsien” were distributed and sold to the two pharmacies. So far, around 200,000 pills of Beauteeplus have been sold. The couple has gained NT$20 million from the unlawful distribution and sale of these pills. Their ruse was blown when Beauteeplus customers in Chunghua County felt ill upon consuming the over-the-counter pills and complained to the Department of Health (DOH). The DOH sent the pills for a toxicology analysis and discovered that it contained banned substances, subsequently contacting the local prosecutors office. The couple will be charged with violation of the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act, which is punishable by up to eight years in prison.