Taipei, The number of patients who have attended two Chinese medicine clinics in Taichung and were found to have excessive levels of lead in their blood has increased to 34 since several such cases were reported in August, the city’s Health Bureau said on Wednesday.
As of Sept. 1, 34 of the 457 patients of the Jiu Fu Chinese Medicine Clinic and the Sheng Tang Chinese Medicine Clinic who had blood samples examined at hospitals were notified that they had excessive amounts of lead in their blood, the bureau said.
It had also received 374 samples of Chinese medicine to be tested for heavy metal content, the bureau added.
Meanwhile, none of the 1,213 Chinese medicine retailers and 143 Chinese medicine clinics that it inspected had been found to have been selling products containing illicit ingredients, the bureau said.
The first case of lead poisoning in Taichung came to light in late July, when Taichung City Councilor Chang Yen-tung (張彥彤), a patient of Sheng Tang, told a news conference that he had been hospitalized for a month after being diagnosed with lead and mercury poisoning.
Chang said his father, former Taichung City Council Speaker Chang Hung-nien (張宏年), his sister and mother, who were all patients of Sheng Tang, were also diagnosed with lead poisoning after they complained of abdominal pain.
After an investigation by the city authorities, it was discovered that the Sheng Tang Chinese Medicine Clinic’s chief practitioner, Lu Shih-ming (呂世明), had been prescribing medicines with excessive levels of lead.
Apart from Sheng Tang, the Jiu Fu Chinese Medicine Clinic was also found to have engaged in such illegal practices. Both clinics were ordered in early August to suspend their businesses for one month and pay fines set by the municipal authorities for allegedly prescribing drugs laced with heavy metals.
Despite the penalties, the issue has stirred up widespread public fears in Taichung, prompting people to have their blood checked at hospitals.
Nine hospitals based in Taichung offer the service, which include China Medical University Hospital, Taichung Veterans General Hospital and Chung Shan Medical University Hospital.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel