September 25, 2023

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Taiwan: Vietnamese Weight-Loss Tea Contains Class 4 Controlled Substance

Taiwan: Vietnamese Weight-Loss Tea Contains Class 4 Controlled Substance, Posing Risk of Blindness and Sudden Death


Taiwan: Vietnamese Weight-Loss Tea Contains Class 4 Controlled Substance, Posing Risk of Blindness and Sudden Death.

Taiwanese authorities have recently discovered weight loss tea packets containing the Class 4 controlled substance “Sibutramine,” a brain neurotransmitter inhibitor that can cause blindness or even sudden death if consumed in excess.

Taiwan: Vietnamese Weight-Loss Tea Contains Class 4 Controlled Substance, Posing Risk of Blindness and Sudden Death.

The police found slimming tea bags mixed with the Level 4 drug “Sibutramine”. Sibutramine is a brain nerve depressant. Excessive consumption may cause blindness or sudden death. 

Image sourece:udn

A Vietnamese woman surnamed Fan and her Taiwanese husband, surnamed Yang, were operating an online business together, importing weight loss tea packets containing Sibutramine from Vietnam and selling them.

They claimed that these tea packets had been tested and approved by Taiwan’s Ministry of Health and had weight loss benefits. The Criminal Investigation Bureau in Taipei City conducted a search and found over 4,000 tea packets and nearly 3,000 capsules.

It is estimated that they had illicitly profited over one million Taiwanese dollars (approximately US$36,000) in two years. They have been charged with drug-related offenses.

Sibutramine is considered an emerging drug and functions as a brain neurotransmitter inhibitor that suppresses appetite but can lead to side effects such as palpitations, irregular heartbeats, and even blindness or sudden death. It was classified as a Class 4 controlled substance in Taiwan in September of the previous year, and it is also prohibited in Vietnam.

According to the police investigation, Fan, aged 38, and Yang, aged 41, have been married for approximately seven years and have been selling Vietnamese products on the Shopee platform. Around two years ago, they imported weight loss tea packets from Vietnam, falsely labeling them as food products.

Fan promoted the weight loss tea packets as their flagship product, selling them for NT$350 each (approximately US$11). She used marketing phrases like “lose weight by drinking tea” and “lazy way to slim down” to attract consumers. She also claimed that these products had been tested and approved by the Ministry of Health and had health benefits such as preventing cardiovascular diseases and maintaining a slim figure.

The Taipei City Criminal Investigation Bureau’s Narcotics Division began investigating the case last month after discovering it on the internet.

They applied for search and arrest warrants and apprehended both individuals at their residence in Taipei. During the search, they found a total of 4,634 packaged tea bags and 2,985 capsules, all containing Sibutramine.

Both suspects have denied wrongdoing and stated that they imported the products from Vietnam without knowledge of their illegality. However, the police have charged them with drug-related offenses. After questioning, the prosecution granted Fan bail of NT$10,000 and allowed Yang to be released, with both being subject to residence restrictions.

The police have urged consumers who purchased the products under false claims to come forward voluntarily. Whether they will face penalties for drug use will be determined in consultation with the prosecutor. Authorities have also urged the public not to purchase unknown products online and to carefully read ingredient labels.

What is sibutramine? and why is it classified as “controlled Substance” in Taiwan?

Sibutramine is a medication that was previously used to help people lose weight by suppressing appetite. It works by affecting certain neurotransmitters in the brain, specifically serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, which are involved in regulating feelings of hunger and fullness. By altering the balance of these neurotransmitters, sibutramine can reduce a person’s appetite, leading to a decreased food intake and potentially promoting weight loss.

However, sibutramine was associated with various safety concerns, which ultimately led to its withdrawal from the market in many countries, including the United States and the European Union.

Some of the reasons for its withdrawal and classification as a controlled substance or a regulated drug in various places are:

Cardiovascular Risks:

Sibutramine has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and strokes, particularly in individuals with preexisting heart conditions.


The medication can raise blood pressure in some individuals, which is a risk factor for heart disease and other health problems.

Psychiatric Effects:

Sibutramine may lead to psychiatric side effects, such as mood swings, anxiety, and depression, which could pose risks to individuals with preexisting mental health conditions.

Potential for Abuse:

Some people have misused sibutramine for its stimulant effects, which can lead to addiction or dependence.

In Taiwan, sibutramine was classified as a controlled substance due to concerns about its safety and potential health risks.

This classification is intended to regulate its distribution and use, restrict access to the drug, and minimize the potential harm associated with its use.

Classifying it as a controlled substance allows regulatory authorities to closely monitor its availability and usage, ensuring that it is only used under strict medical supervision when deemed necessary.

It’s important to note that regulations regarding sibutramine and its classification can vary from one country to another, and these decisions are typically made based on the available scientific evidence and assessments of the drug’s benefits and risks to public health.




Taiwan: Vietnamese Weight-Loss Tea Contains Class 4 Controlled Substance, Posing Risk of Blindness and Sudden Death.

(source:internet, reference only)

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