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Revised: 1 March 2005

Advice for Consumers Taking 'Herbs Health' Products

Medsafe has recently tested the above Herbs Health products and found them to illegally contain prescription medicines. As a result, these three herbal products have been removed from the market and future supplies will not be available. The Director-General of Health, Dr Karen Poutasi, has asked that consumers be given the following advice about what to do if you are taking any of these products.

Patients taking Herbs Health brand of Joint Plus or S.E.N Plus

If you are taking either of these herbal products, you should immediately stop taking them. You should also see your doctor if:

Both Joint Plus and S.E.N Plus have been tested and found to contain the prescription medicines frusemide and piroxicam.

Frusemide is a diuretic used to increase urine output. It is used to treat conditions such as fluid retention and heart failure. Harmful effects of frusemide include dehydration and electrolyte disturbances.

Piroxicam is an anti-inflammatory medicine used to treat pain and swelling due to conditions such as arthritis. Harmful effects of piroxicam include stomach problems such as indigestion, abdominal pain and bleeding.

Patients taking Herbs Health brand of Multistress

If you are taking Multistress, it is very important that you keep taking this product because it is harmful to stop taking it suddenly. You should make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible so that you can be safely weaned off Multistress.

If you have been taking Multistress for more than one month AND are about to have surgery, you must tell your surgeon as soon as possible.

Multistress has been tested and found to contain the corticosteroid (steroid) betamethasone. This is a potent medicine that can only be prescribed by a medical doctor.

Use of steroids can cause serious side effects such as permanent skin damage and reducing the body's ability to fight infection. Long-term use can cause osteoporosis and weight gain. Steroids can also cause problems during surgery.

If you have recently stopped taking Herbs Health Multistress, you should see your doctor for a check-up.

Why are these medicines being removed from the market?

Although you may have found these herbal products to be helpful, Medsafe is obligated to remove them from the market because it is illegal for herbal products to contain undeclared prescription medicines. It is also illegal for prescription medicines to be sold without a prescription from a medical doctor. Another important reason for removing these three products from the market is that consumers may be at risk of serious harm when they take prescription medicines without the advice of their doctor.

Other questions and answers are available on the Medsafe web site.

Photos of the Herbs Health products.

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