Urgent warning over counterfeit anti-choking devices made in China and sold for as little as £15 on Amazon and eBay

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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  • MHRA warns unbranded anti-choking devices could ‘worsen choking incidents’
  • Usually sold for about £60 by the manufacturer, counterfeit devices sell for £15

Dangerous counterfeit anti-choking devices are being sold in the UK for as little as £15.

Regulators today warned the gadgets – marketed as being life-savers – could prove deadly.

Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) bosses, who police the safety of drugs and medical equipment in the UK, is urging the public not to buy fake or unbranded versions of the devices because they pose a ‘significant risk’. 

More than 10,000 rogue anti-choking devices are estimated to have been bought in the UK from marketplaces like Amazon and eBay.

The devices work by by using air pressure to suck out the item which is blocking the person’s airways.

Usually sold for about £60 by the manufacturer, counterfeit devices made in China are sold for as little as £15 on eBay (image shows a counterfeit)

It’s estimated more than 10,000 counterfeit anti-choking devices have been purchased by the public within the last two years based on listings found across online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay , and drop-shipping websites (image left shows a genuine product) Usually sold for about £60 by the manufacturer, counterfeit devices made in China are sold for as little as £15 on eBay (image right shows a counterfeit)

Only LifeVac and Dechoker are registered with the MHRA currently. Both have a valid UKCA or CE mark.

Health chiefs say they should only be used after basic life support protocols have been attempted and failed.

Fake ones can look almost identical.

None of the anti-choking devices registered with the MHRA are made in China. Some claim to be genuine, however. 

What to do if someone is choking

  1. Encourage the person to keep coughing, and remove any obvious obstructions from their mouth. If that fails, give five sharp blows to the back, between the shoulder blades. Check their mouth after each one.
  2. If they are still choking, stand behind them and put your arms around their waist above the belly button. Clench one fist and grasp it with your other hand. Pull sharply – and upwards – five times. Check their mouth each time.
  3. Call 999 if this fails. Continue giving five sharp blows followed by five sharp pulls. Start CPR if the person becomes unresponsive.

Source: St John Ambulance 

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Regulators say the devices could fail to work in a life-threatening situation and might worsen the situation by pushing obstructions further down the airway.

MHRA is urging people buying anti-choking devices online to be ‘vigilant’ and ensure these products are purchased from reputable sellers.

Buyers are also warned to be careful of websites using fake reviews to promote their product and should also check to see that the device manufacturer is registered with the MHRA via the public access database.

Dr Alison Cave, MHRA chief safety officer, said: ‘Patient safety is our top priority. 

‘Buying anti-choking devices that do not have a valid UKCA or CE mark increases the risk of receiving a product which does not include appropriate instructions and is either fake or does not meet the UK’s regulatory requirements.

‘These products do not meet our strict quality standards and may put your health and safety at significant risk by failing to resolve or even worsening choking incidents.’

Dr Cave added: ‘The MHRA is working with online marketplaces to remove unbranded and counterfeit anti-choking devices from sale. 

‘Do not use the device if you suspect it is counterfeit.’

‘Please submit a Yellow Card report if you have previously used a counterfeit or unbranded device and it failed to work, including details of where you bought the product.’  

MHRA is urging people to contact the legal manufacturer, LifeVac, if they are unsure if their device is is genuine or a counterfeit.

Choking happens when someone’s airway suddenly gets blocked, this can be partially or fully, but enough so they can’t breathe properly.

If an adult’s airways are blocked, they may be able to clear the blockage themselves.

However, if coughing doesn’t solve the issue, back blows and abdominal thrusts can help. If these do not work, you should call 999 immediately.

The NHS warns that you should not give abdominal thrusts to babies under one or to pregnant women.

Choking happens when someone’s airway suddenly gets blocked, this can be partially or fully, but enough so they can't breathe properly

Choking happens when someone’s airway suddenly gets blocked, this can be partially or fully, but enough so they can’t breathe properly

HOW TO SPOT A COUNTERFEIT 

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is warning the public not to buy counterfeit or unbranded anti-choking devices as they could put people at ‘significant risk’.

There are currently two anti-choking device brands, LifeVac and Dechoker, which have a valid UKCA or CE mark and are registered with the MHRA to be used after Basic Life Support protocols have been attempted and failed.

This is how you spot the difference…

 Genuine device

This device has the CE mark. Look for the UKCA or CE mark when checking if it is a genuine product.

It should also have the address and name of the EU authorised representative and a Unique Device Identifier (UDI) number.

The genuine design incorporates a black one-way suction valve inside the bellows (or chamber) to prevent air being expelled on depression, so that only upward force is generated to remove obstructions from the airway.

 

 The base of a genuine device does not include the ‘Made in USA’ statement as present on the counterfeit or unbranded devices.

On the packaging of the anesthesia masks supplied with the genuine device include details of their legal manufacturer and EU authorised representative.

MHRA explains that although h the masks included with the genuine device are originally manufactured in China, the device as a whole does not originate from China.

Counterfeit/unbranded

 The counterfeit or unbranded devices do not have these details.

 

 

 

The counterfeit or unbranded devices lack any form of one-way suction valve, meaning that air may be expelled from the device upon depression. This creates a downward force that potentially pushes obstructions further down the airway.

 

Counterfeit or unbranded devices have ‘Made in USA’ embossed. 

 

Packaging of anesthesia masks supplied with the counterfeit or unbranded devices includes a CE marking and batch numbers are displayed, but the manufacturer and EU Authorised Representative (EC Rep) details are not printed.

 

 

SOURCE: MHRA 

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