On February 24, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned people with diabetes not to use five brands of Chinese herbal products. The FDA says that the herbs illegally contain the prescription diabetes drugs glyburide and phenformin which can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar.
The herbs which the FDA advises against are:
- Diabetes Hypoglucose Capsules, sold by Chinese Angel Health Products of Santa Monica, California;
- Pearl Hypoglycemic Capsules, imported by Sino American Health Products Inc. of Torrance, California, but also sold by Chinese Angel Health Care Products;
- Tongyitang Diabetes Angel Pearl Hypoglycemic Capsules, sold by Sino American;
- Tongyitang Diabetes Angel Hypoglycemic Capsules, sold by Sino American, and
- Zhen Qi Capsules, sold by Sino American.
All of the products claim to contain only natural Chinese herbs. California health officials, however, started an investigation after diabetic herb users had several episodes of hypoglycemia after taking the herbs. The FDA warns that people with diabetes should avoid these products and consult their physician if they have been taking them.
Imports of the five herbs have been discontinued, and the FDA is investigating how the drugs were added to the herbs and whether any other herbal products are contaminated.
Chinese Angel and Sino American have agreed to recall the affected products, which may be returned to the place of purchase for a refund.