Three pills
The FDA has cautioned consumers against using at least 20 "natural" weight loss pills as they contain a banned ingredient. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

The Food and Drug Administration has issued a caution against using 20 different types of diet pills labeled “all natural.” The supplements contained sibutramine, a weight loss medication that was pulled from the market.

Illegal heart medication found in ‘natural’ weight loss pills

Several “all natural” weight loss supplements have drawn the attention of the Food and Drug Administration for containing sibutramine, according to MSNBC. Sibutramine, sold by Abbott Laboratories under the brand name Meridia, was pulled from the U.S. market in October of 2010. Meridia, a prescription weight-loss drug, was found to raise the risk of stroke or heart attacks.

The FDA has cautioned any consumers currently taking “natural” weight loss supplements to talk to their doctors immediately if they have any heart-related problems after taking the drugs. Consumers are also advised to cease taking them.

Pills marketed as berry and coffee related

According to the Daily Mail, some of the pills the FDA says are dangerous include “Lose Weight Coffee,” “Acai Berry Soft Gel ABC,” “Leisure 18 Slimming Coffee,” “Magic Slim Tea,” “Fruit Plant Lossing Fat Capsule,” “Slim Forte Slimming Coffee” and “P57 Hoodia.”

According to Wikipedia, this is not the first time an “herbal” or “natural” weight loss supplement has been found to contain sibutramine. The FDA has found the substance in supplements labeled natural as far back as 2008. Similar findings of sibutramine in weight-loss supplements have been reported in Canada, Ireland, Germany and Britain.

According to the New York Times, an FDA testing facility at the mail center in John F. Kennedy International Airport found sibutramine in 35 of 36 weight loss supplements being imported through the mail since the testing facility started operation this year. One supplement, Ja Dera, had six times the standard dose of prescription sibutramine.

Naturally corrupt

Natural supplements are a big business. The Nutrition Business Journal reported that Americans spent $28.1 billion on vitamins, herbal supplements and similar products in 2010, according to the New York Times.

The New England Journal of Medicine released a study in 2002, according to Fox News, estimating the number of people admitted to hospitals per year due to effects of supplements in the “tens of thousands.”

According to CNN, the FDA issued warnings on 300 supplements between 2007 and 2010. The bulk of those warnings were concerning supplements for body building, weight loss and sexual enhancement. Most tainted weight loss supplements are found to contain sibutramine. Body building supplements are often found to contain anabolic steroids, and sexual enhancement supplements often  contain tadalafil, vardenafil and sildenafil citrate, the active ingredients in Cialis, Levitra and Viagra, respectively, all of which are prescription medications.

Sources

MSNBC: http://vitals.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/10/19/8402061-natural-diet-pills-tainted-with-banned-prescription-drug

Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2051333/Meridia-natural-diet-pills-contain-banned-prescription-drug-linked-heart-attacks.html

FDA Cautions: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/MedicationHealthFraud/ucm234592.htm

Wikipedia on Sibutramine: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sibutramine

New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/28/business/supplement-drugs-may-contain-dangerous-ingredients.html?pagewanted=all

CNN: http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2010/12/15/fda-cracks-down-on-tainted-dietary-supplements/

Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,525644,00.html

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