Ginseng Product Contains Potentially Dangerous Undisclosed Drug Ingredients

The FDA advised consumers not to purchase or use “Ginseng Kianpi Pil,” a product promoted to stimulate appetite, promote weight gain, and relieve fatigue, because it contains an undisclosed corticosteroid and an antihistamine. “Ginseng Kianpi Pil” is manufactured by Kweilin Drug Manufactory, and sold in retail stores and on various websites.


FDA laboratory analysis found that “Ginseng Kianpi Pil” contains dexamethasone, a corticosteroid commonly used to treat inflammatory conditions, and cyproheptadine, a prescription antihistamine used for seasonal allergy treatment. Corticosteroid use can impair a person’s ability to fight infections, cause high blood sugar levels, muscle injuries, and psychiatric problems. When corticosteroids are taken for a prolonged period, or at high doses, they can suppress the adrenal gland and cause withdrawal symptoms with abrupt discontinuation.  Antihistamines may cause drowsiness and affect mental alertness. In addition, these undisclosed drug ingredients in “Ginseng Kianpi Pil” may cause serious side effects when combined with other medications. 


Consumers taking “Ginseng Kianpi Pil” are urged to immediately consult with their health care professional to safely discontinue use of this product. The risk of withdrawal from corticosteroids should be assessed by a health care professional. Only licensed health care professionals can evaluate patients for the risk, or confirm the existence, of adrenal suppression.


See the FDA Drug Safety Alert


See also Medical Law Perspectives, April 2013 Report: Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Practitioner Liability