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Friday, 12 July, 2002, 10:23 GMT 11:23 UK
Diet pill alert hits Japan
Model in Hong Kong
In Asia, thin is in
A 60-year-old woman has died and 11 others have developed liver problems in Japan after taking Chinese-made slimming aids.

Officials from Japan's Health Ministry said some of the aids, which were bought from Chinese suppliers over the internet, contained an unauthorised appetite suppressant, fenfluramin.


If we find anybody selling them, they would face arrest

Health Ministry official
Diet pills containing the same ingredient were banned in Singapore earlier this year after being blamed for killing one woman and damaging the health of 20 more, including a prominent TV personality who needed a liver transplant from her boyfriend to survive.

Slimming aids have become increasingly popular in Japan and other Asian countries, where changing diets and lifestyles have led to increasing weight problems and obesity.

Banned ingredient

The Japanese cases were recorded since June 2001. Most of the people affected reported liver disorders, and one needed a liver transplant.

"Among the pills, there is one that contains similar compounds to the diet pills that caused problems in Singapore," Hideo Eno, a pharmaceutical affairs specialist at the Health Ministry told Reuters news agency.

Andrea De Cruz, the Singaporean TV personality, is suing the Chinese manufacturer for damages and the cost of a transplant operation after she used the product, known as Slim 10.

Ms De Cruz was saved when her boyfriend - fellow actor Pierre Png - donated part of his liver to her in a marathon operation which gripped the nation.

See also:

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