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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release # 124-05
Wednesday, December 21, 2005

MEDIA CONTACT: (212) 788-5290; (212) 788-3058 (After Hours)
Sandra Mullin (smullin@health.nyc.gov)
Sara Markt (smarkt@health.nyc.gov)


NYC HEALTH DEPARTMENT WARNS AGAINST USE OF HERBAL MEDICINE PRODUCTS MADE IN INDIA THAT CONTAIN LEAD OR MERCURY

NEW YORK CITY – December 21, 2005 - The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) today warned residents against the use of certain herbal medicine products made in India containing dangerous levels of lead or mercury. Though there are no specific federal standards, the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends that certain food additives contain no more than 2 ppm (parts per million) of lead and no more than 1 ppm of mercury. T he following products contain very high levels of lead or mercury:

  • Jambrulin, made by Unjha Ayurvedic Pharmacy, contains 24,300 ppm of lead. Used for diabetes and sugar control.
  • Lakshmivilash Ras (Nardiya), made by Baidyanath, contains 14,100 ppm of mercury. Used for chronic fever, cold, and cough.
  • Maha Sudarshan, made by Arya Aushadhi Pharmaceutical Works, contains 2,190 ppm of mercury. Used for flu and body ache.

This summer the DOHMH began an investigation of the availability of products containing lead or mercury made in India . The DOHMH visited retail stores serving South Asian residents and purchased Indian products that had been identified in recent research studies and case reports as containing lead or mercury.

Laboratory tests showed that the above products, purchased in stores in Jackson Heights and Flushing , contain dangerous levels of lead or mercury. L ead and mercury were not listed on the products as ingredients. The sale of products deemed to contain poisonous substances or to be detrimental to human health is prohibited under New York City Health Code.

In the past year there have been three confirmed cases of adult lead poisoning among New York City residents who used products they obtained from India . These lead poisoning cases reported that they obtained the tainted products while visiting India or from friends and family living in India .

“We urge New Yorkers not to use any products known to contain lead or mercury,” said DOHMH Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH. “These metals are poisons and can cause damage to the brain, nervous system, and kidneys. Children and pregnant women (and their fetuses) are especially at risk. If you or your children have used these products, immediately call a physician to request a blood lead test and urine mercury test.”

Product Labels in English


Product Labels in Hind


DOHMH has condemned and embargoed these products and has ordered store owners where these products are sold to:

  • Immediately stop selling and remove Jambrulin (made by Unjha Ayurvedic Pharmacy) , Lakshmivlas Ras (Nardiya), (made by Baidyanath), and Maha Sudarshan (made by Arya Aushadhi Pharmaceutical Works) from store shelves and from store inventory.
  • Package and return these products to the distributors.
  • Provide the DOHMH information on the distributors who sold the products to the stores. Failure to provide the required information will result in the immediate seizure of the embargoed products.
  • Post a sign in the stores to advise customers to discontinue use of these products and to see a physician if they have used them.

DOHMH advises people who may have obtained these products to:

  • Immediately stop using these products.
  • Call a physician to request a blood lead test and mercury urine test.
  • Keep products away from children.
  • Return products to store where they were purchased.
  • Call 311 or 212-POISONS to report locations where these products have been sold.

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