Posted June 20, 2002

Canadian Warning on Use of Bejai Bowyantan for Infants

On June 14, 2002, Health Canada warned Canadians not to use Bejai Bowyantan for their young children and infants because it contains a substance with similar toxic properties to another substance known to cause serious adverse reactions and death in children.

Bejai Bowyantan is an imported Chinese medicine used to treat babies with flu, fever, stomach aches, diarrhea, night crying and inability to sleep. The product is labelled to contain five per cent borneolum syntheticum. Borneol is known to have a similar toxicity profile to camphor, a substance known to be extremely toxic, particularly in children.

Health Canada has assessed the use of Bejai Bowyantan in young children and infants and determined there is a reasonable chance that exposure to the product could cause a serious adverse reaction or even death.

To date, no incidents of adverse reactions to this product have been reported in Canada.

Bejai Bowyantan comes in vials containing 0.9 grams of a brown powder. Instructions for use recommend the powder be mixed with boiled water and consumed three times daily. The instructions also recommend half a vial be used for babies under one month, one vial for babies over one month, and 2-3 vials for children 3-9 years old.

Health Canada is working to identify all importers of this product in order to facilitate its removal from the market. The department will also issue a customs alert to prevent further shipments of this product from entering Canada.

This warning has been distributed to the Chinese Chamber of Herbal Medicines of Canada, associations of Chinese importers and Ayurvedic medicine, the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Pharmacists Association of Canada, Provincial and Territorial Ministries of Health, Poison Control Centres and other relevant associations.

Consumers are advised only to use drug products that carry an eight-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN) on the label. The DIN indicates that Health Canada has assessed the product for safety, effectiveness and quality, and has authorized it for sale in Canada.

Photographs of the products are available from links from Web address shown below.