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Ex-VP's daughter may be questioned over slimming product doubts
Central News Agency
2013-10-28 10:54 PM
Taipei, Oct. 28 (CNA) Taipei prosecutors said Monday they might call in Arlene Lien, a daughter of former Vice President Lien Chan, for questioning as she is the major shareholder of the distributor of a weight loss product containing an unapproved ingredient. Officials of the Taipei District Prosecutors Office said they did not rule out the possibility of asking Lien for an explanation over the discovery of cetilistat, an experimental obesity drug that decreases the absorption of fat, in the unlicensed weight loss product, WELLSLIM Plus. Prosecutors said Lien is neither a defendant nor a witness in the case but faces questioning as she has invested NT$15 million (US$510,050) in Geneherbs Taiwan, which sells WELLSLIM Plus in the country, and has endorsed the product in publicity events. Geneherbs has a total capital of over NT$20 million. Revelations about the weight loss product surfaced in mid-October after consumers reported gastrointestinal discomfort. Lien offered an apology in a television interview on Sunday night but said that she was not aware of the composition of the drug, of which she has been a user for five years. She also said that she is not responsible for the operations of Geneherbs. Local health authorities said cetilistat is still in clinical trials abroad, which means the safety and efficacy of the drug has not been established. Taiwan's Ministry of Health and Welfare has not issued permits for any medicine containing the substance to be sold in Taiwan. Possible health risks of cetilistat include fecal incontinence, fatty or oily stool and other gastrointestinal problems, according to the ministry. On Oct. 25, investigators raided Geneherbs, Wellcare Pharmaceutical Co. and a packaging company and summoned for questioning seven executives of the three firms. Wellcare, the producer of WELLSLIM Plus, has said it imported its raw materials from Canada. The weight loss product was developed in the United States, according to Geneherbs' website. Wellcare is another shareholder in Geneherbs and contributes mainly by providing the technology of the product. Geneherbs' general manager Tseng Hsin-yi was released on NT$2 million bail last week. Two Wellcare officials were also released on bail after being questioned. (By Liu Shih-yi and Scully Hsiao)
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