Second Chinese medicine clinic shut for allegedly lacing drugs
Taipei, Aug. 6 (CNA) A second Taichung-based traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) clinic was ordered to suspend its business on Thursday after municipal authorities found it had allegedly prescribed drugs laced with heavy metals to patients, after another clinic was earlier found to have committed the potentially dangerous act.
The suspension came after Taichung health officials and law enforcement agents on Thursday searched the Jiu Fu Chinese Medicine Clinic (九福中醫) and the Sheng Tang Chinese Medicine Clinic (盛唐中醫)-- the first TCM clinic in Taichung where its chief practitioner Lu Shih-ming (呂世明) was found to have been involved in the illegal practice.
Jiu Fu was ordered to suspend operations for one month and pay a fine of NT$300,000 (US$10,000), while Sheng Tang was told to close its shop for two months and pay a fine of NT$500,000.
Lu, who is being investigated by prosecutors, was fined NT$100,000 for not recording the parts of the prescriptions containing heavy metals in the patients' medical records, in violation of Taiwan's Physicians Act.
Sheng Tang's case broke after Taichung City Councilor Chang Yen-tung (張彥彤) told reporters last Friday he had been hospitalized for a month after being diagnosed with lead and mercury poisoning.
His father, former Taichung City Council Speaker Chang Hung-nien (張宏年), his sister and mother were also diagnosed with lead poisoning after they complained of abdominal pain.
It later became known that at least two other patients treated by Lu might have also been poisoned, bringing the number of patients who may have taken the drugs containing lead, arsenic and mercury prescribed by Lu to around 15.
Jiu Fu was searched after China Medical University Hospital found similar cases in blood samples provided by patients. The hospital gave the blood sample data and questionable Chinese medicine to the city's Health Bureau for analysis. Test results came out Wednesday, prompting law enforcement agents to search the Jiu Fu clinic.
Taichung prosecutors suspect that the problematic drugs prescribed by the two TMC clinics might be provided by the same supplier.
On Thursday, Chang Yen-tung said his father has suffered brain damage and might need to receive kidney dialysis to save his life, while her sister's fertility might be affected.
A saddened Chang Yen-tung said he has taken legal action against Lu on Tuesday for attempted murder and is asking for compensation.
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