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.

Next Prev

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

RELATED ARTICLE: "Choosing the Right Weight-Loss Product."

Related Topics