Contaminated weight loss supplements

rusty_blackhaw(6a)December 23, 2008

A consumer alert has been issued by the FDA warning Americans against buying 28 weight loss supplements, most of which appear to be manufactured in China. The "contaminants" include prescription medications, following a pattern seen previously with Chinese "herbal" imports that were found to be juiced up with undisclosed drugs (see link below).

"An FDA analysis found that the undeclared active pharmaceutical ingredients in some of these products include sibutramine (a controlled substance), rimonabant (a drug not approved for marketing in the United States), phenytoin (an anti-seizure medication), and phenolphthalein (a solution used in chemical experiments and a suspected cancer causing agent). Some of the amounts of active pharmaceutical ingredients far exceeded the FDA-recommended levels, putting consumers' health at risk.

These weight loss products, some of which are marketed as "dietary supplements," are promoted and sold on various Web sites and in some retail stores. Some of the products claim to be "natural" or to contain only "herbal" ingredients, but actually contain potentially harmful ingredients not listed on the product labels or in promotional advertisements. These products have not been approved by the FDA, are illegal and may be potentially harmful to unsuspecting consumers."

One of the drugs found in these products, rimonabant, is used for weight loss in Europe but not approved in the U.S. because of potential neuropsychiatric reactions (it has been linked to deaths and adverse effects abroad). Another, sibutramine, is prescribed in the U.S. for weight loss but consumers who take the contaminated supplements containing it could wind up with dosages far in excess of recommended levels. The other problem with undisclosed ingredients like this is that people not recommended for the prescription drug because of health contraindications are unknowingly taking it under the impression that their diet supplement contains "natural" ingredients.

"The health risks posed by these products can be serious; for example, sibutramine, which was found in many of the products, can cause high blood pressure, seizures, tachycardia, palpitations, heart attack or stroke. This drug can also interact with other medications that patients may be taking and increase their risk of adverse drug events."

The FDA notes that it has inspected sellers of these products and tried to initiate recalls, but calls the firms' responses "inadequate", saying that additional enforcement action may take place (based on the agency's limited funding and enforcement powers, don't expect quick action - and these companies are likely to crop up under new names selling similar products even if they're ordered to stop marketing tainted supplements.

So it's largely up to us to be wary of "magic" diet pills and to know where our supplements are coming from and how rigorously they've been clinically tested (if at all).

Here is a link that might be useful: what you stand to lose with weight loss supplements

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oakleif(z6 AR)

Too true. Another product made in China sent to USA with poisoning abilities. When will this country learn that communist China is our enemy and never wishes us well. Wish the medical industry would wake up to that fact.
Weight loss drugs is another unnecessary American fetish. Weight loss drugs are big sellers in The USA drug industry and should be banned as a useless product. Research indicates that only education in proper diet modification really works. But the American drug industry is making mega bucks off obese people without helping them to lose weight. OH WELL!!!! Maybe the new president will change the drug regulations. At least now we can hope.
We stupid AMERICANS has let China poison our kids with poison paint and its still coming into the country so why should we care about the obese. Again maybe our new president will change things.
OK i'm off my bandstand now. Have a good day.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2008 at 3:24AM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Hanlon's Razor: never assume evil intent when stupidity or incompetence are sufficient to explain events.

Although this is probably incompetence and greed. We really need to stop buying made in china, that's a practice that is bleeding our country dry. But this is a political digression, one we shouldn't travel down in an herbalism forum, suffice to say, "be weary of herbs from China or India".

    Bookmark   December 24, 2008 at 12:30PM
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rusty_blackhaw(6a)

While "evil intent" may be over the top as a description of what's happening with adulteration of medicines manufactured in China, neither is it plausible that this is happening merely by accident or neglect. Time and again, it's been shown that prescription drugs not revealed on the label have been added to China-made supplements/herbal products, and the clear intent is to make them more effective while luring customers with a supposedly "natural" product. Check out the list of drugs found in Chinese supplements as indicated in this report.

"...case reports showed that two or more adulterants were present in 14 of 15 Chinese herbal medicines.

There was one death reported in these reports, and at least six potentially life threatening events. Suspicion of adulteration was based not only on adverse effects, but suspiciously good efficacy. Chinese herbal medicines may work because of the adulterants.

Most people consider alternative therapies to be safe, and often do not mention that they are using them. Given that multiple adulteration of Chinese herbal medicines seems to be common, there is potential for problems, especially when other treatments are being prescribed. Imagine an older patient on NSAID and aspirin additionally taking a Chinese medicine containing indomethacin or phenylbutazone!

We simply do not know what the rate of adulteration is. One UK study of 11 herbal creams showed that eight contained dexamethasone at concentrations up to 1.5 mg/gram of cream. In the absence of better information, we should assume that Chinese medicines are adulterated."

    Bookmark   December 24, 2008 at 12:53PM
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oakleif(z6 AR)

Ah yes, Evil dwells in the heart of man. That is what sets us apart from the apes.lol

Bren, I love it, YOUR QUOTE. BUT THIS IS A POLITICAL DIGRESSION.....BE WEARY OF HERBS FROM CHINA. o-o-o k-a-a-y.
eric, Could you pretty please put that in English that everyone here can understand? Have you noticed i rarely use tech jargon. It's not polite.

Wanna talk about the evils of western medicine?
Nothing is perfect in this ole life, ya know.

Herbs,all and all are simple. Thats why i love them so much and they have so much history behind them. In all things herbal listen to an herbalist and not a med tech. Know what you are taking and the side effects in pills as well as herbs.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 4:55AM
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