The Dangers of Tainted Weight Loss Supplements

  • The FDA has identified an emerging trend where OTC products, frequently represented as dietary supplements, contain hidden active ingredients that could be harmful.

  • Hidden active ingredients include sibutramine (formerly marketed as Meridia), phenolphthalein, fenproporex, fluoxetine, bumetanide, furosemide, phenytoin, rimonabant, and cetilistat.

  • Sibutramine is known to substantially increase BP and pulse rate which may present a significant risk in patients with a history of coronary artery disease, CHF, arrhythmias, or stroke.

  • Phenolphthalein was an ingredient in OTC laxatives until 1999; it is now considered genotoxic.

  • Some products may contain banned ephedrine alkaloids which may raise BP and stress the circulatory system.

  • Cetilistat is an experimental obesity drug; there is no safety or efficacy profile for this drug.

  • Fenoproporex is a stimulant not approved in the U.S; it is an amphetamine derivative.

  • Fluoxetine is the active ingredient in Prozac, a prescription antidepressant.

  • Rimonabant is the active ingredient in Zimulti which is not approved in the U.S.; in Europe the drug is known as Acomplia.

  • Healthcare professionals should warn patients that weight loss products promoted as “all natural” may contain potentially harmful hidden ingredients.

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This slideshow presents some of the recent tainted weight loss dietary supplements the FDA has uncovered in their investigations. To see a full list of tainted products, visit FDA.gov.

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