Wednesday, March 25, 2009

FDA Expands List Of Tainted Weight Loss Pills

This past week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded their list of tainted weight loss pills. Originally in late 2008, FDA warned consumers about 28 products which contained undeclared pharmaceutical ingredients and were marketed for weight loss. This list has since been updated twice. This latest update brings the total to 72 products, some of which are marketed as dietary supplements.

"These tainted weight-loss products pose a great risk to public health because they contain undeclared ingredients and, in some cases, contain prescription drugs in amounts that greatly exceed maximum recommended dosages," Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a news release. "Consumers have no way of knowing that these products contain dangerous drugs that could cause serious consequences to their health."

The active pharmaceutical ingredients contained in the products but not identified, the FDA said, include:
  • fenproporex -- a controlled substance not approved for sale in the United States
  • fluoxetine -- an antidepressant available by prescription only
  • bumetanide -- a potent diuretic available by prescription only
  • furosemide -- a potent diuretic available by prescription only
  • rimonabant -- a drug not approved for sale in the United States
  • cetilistat -- an experimental obesity drug not approved for sale in the United States
  • phenytoin -- an anti-seizure medication available by prescription only
  • phenolphthalein -- a solution used in chemical experiments and a suspected cancer-causing agent that is not approved for sale in the United States

The health risks posed by these products can be very serious and include high blood pressure, seizures, tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), palpitations, heart attack, and stroke. Sibutramine, a controlled substance, was found in many of these products at levels much higher than the maximum daily dosage for Meridia, the only FDA-approved drug product containing sibutramine. These higher levels of sibutramine can increase the incidence and severity of these health risks. Fenproporex, another controlled substance, can cause arrhythmia and possible sudden death.

According to the FDA, these products are marketed at websites, convenience stores and some beauty shops. Consumers are encourage to discontinue their use and report any side effects to the FDA MedWatch website at

A complete list of the tainted weight-loss products is available at the FDA.

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