Unsafe counterfeit anti-choking devices on sale in UK

Thousands of counterfeit or unbranded copies of LifeVac anti-choking devices are being sold across the UK, according to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The regulator recommends that consumers “check their product carefully against the images in MHRA guidance to identify whether it is a counterfeit” as the devices “do not comply with device regulations and could cause harm.”

The MHRA estimates that at least 100,000 of the knock-off devices, sold as airway clearance devices, choking rescue devices or emergency first aid devices, have been bought by the public within the last two years, based on listings found across online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay and drop-shipping websites.

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, according to the regulator.

Use of a counterfeit or unbranded anti-choking device carries a significant risk of failure to resolve the blockage and may worsen the situation by pushing obstructions further down the airway passage, it said in a statement.

“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,” said Dr Alison Cave, MHRA’s chief safety officer.

“The MHRA is working with online marketplaces to remove unbranded and counterfeit anti-choking devices from sale,” it added. “Do not use the device if you suspect it is counterfeit.”

The majority of counterfeit or unbranded anti-choking devices are manufactured or shipped from China, appear in a similar or identical design to the LifeVac anti-choking device and, in some cases, claim to be the genuine brand.

None of the anti-choking devices registered with the MHRA are manufactured in China, said the MHRA.

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