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Authorities are warning people about the dangers of the sets, often dubbed “magical cures for various diseases”, from gout, to paralysis and inflammed joints.
“Their benefits are exaggerated and they include steroids, controlled medicines that in fact must be prescribed by doctors only,” Khon Kaen’s public health chief Dr Somchaichote Piyawatchwela said yesterday.
Prolonged misuse of steroids is harmful to health and in severe cases, can be lethal.
Somchaichote spoke up after receiving an alarming report about a patient who recently went to Si Chomphu Hospital in Khon Kaen’s Si Chomphu district in a terrible state.
She had a swollen face and a bump on her neck after taking Ya Mor Thahan sets every two days for more than a year.
Each of these unauthorised Ya Mor Thahan sets costs Bt20 and, says Somchaichote, contains smuggled pills and steroids.
Some even include sleeping pills and Piroxicam, an anti-inflammatory drug often used to treat arthritis.
“Estimates suggest more than 200 million such pills have already been smuggled into Thailand and sold under the Ya Mor Thahan banner,” he said.
The products are therefore quite widespread but are most common in border provinces.
Late last year, an official found a large quantity of such pills stuffed into bags and abandoned in a vehicle at a checkpoint in Nong Khai province.
Nobody in the vehicle admitted to owning the bags. Analysis later revealed the pills were steroids and painkillers.
“Ya Mor Thahan is used as a banner because the name convinces buyers that medicines are very effective. Medics usually need to prescribe such medicines that give immediate benefit to injured soldiers,” Somchaichote said.
He said his office had already alerted the Food and Drug Administration about Ya Mor Thahan.
“We will launch crackdowns on unauthorised medicines,” he said.
Somchaichote added that if any manufacturer of traditional Thai medicines used steroids as one of its ingredient, it would be liable to both a jail term and a fine.
FDA deputy secretary general Dr Surachoke Tangwiwat has urged people to buy medicines from licensed chemists only.
“Beware of medicines with seemingly too good benefits,” he said. “They are prone to contain steroid, which has many undesirable side effects.”