If you wanted to lose weight last year, you might have been tempted to try Slimming Beauty Bitter Orange weight loss capsules. It’s a slimming dietary supplement sold on the Internet. The label claimed that Slimming Beauty was “100% herbal” and “a natural vitamin and calcium” capsule for use even by children as young as 2. However, the label did not have two important warnings. First, that Slimming Beauty was illegally spiked with dangerous quantities of sibutramine, a strong prescription-strength stimulant. Second, if you’d attempted it, you may have had a heart attack.
What are Weight Loss Capsules Which are Sold Online?
If the word sibutramine sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the generic name for Meridia. It’s the prescription weight loss drug withdrawn from the market last October at the FDA’s request. The agency had approved the drug in 1997. But a recent 10,000-patient, 6-year study showed that sibutramine upped the risk of nonfatal “cardiovascular events” like heart attacks and strokes by 16%. It caused the FDA to reconsider.
The same day the FDA declared the Meridia recall, also, it issued a consumer warning against Slimming Beauty weight loss capsules. It mentioned several reports of severe unwanted side effects. They included raised blood pressure, headaches, vomiting, and sleeplessness. But unfortunately, the FDA doesn’t have as much regulatory power over supplements as it does over drugs. It can’t require intensive clinical trials before one of these products goes on the market; it must run its own tests to prove that a supplement contains dangerous illegal drugs before it can try to remove it.
Even then, there are all those similar goods online that it is often unclear who really produces a spiked supplements was the case with Slimming Beauty. After the FDA alarm, the merchandise vanished into cyberspace. But sibutramine and other possibly dangerous substances may still be lurking in other dietary supplements; and accessible to anybody with a Web browser along with a charge card.
What is Really in Those Web Diet Drugs
“Weight losing capsules may represent the following big drug safety disaster,” says Steven Nissen, MD, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic plus a Prevention advisory board member. “We do not understand precisely what most nutritional supplements include, so we do not see if they are really safe.”
More and more, weight loss products along with dietary supplements that purport to treat sexual dysfunction or improve fit performance are being “adulterated” with possibly dangerous ingredients by their makers.
“Initially, the manufacturers would throw in something such as caffeine to provide you with a kick,” says Tod Cooperman, MD, president of ConsumerLab.com. “Now they are adding in compounds you see in prescription drugs without containing that info on their labels.”
Some of these products which are frequently sold on the Net. So the manufacturing companies can evade regulators may include variations of Meridia, Viagra, Cialis, or Levitra without consumers’ knowledge.
What’s the other thing consumers do not understand? Adulterated products can be much more dangerous than weight loss prescription capsules. In the event you had had a prescription for Meridia, for example, you’d have been under a physician’s care and would have been conscious of just how much sibutramine you were taking; together with what side effects you might anticipate. Because they were recorded on the label. But in the mostly unregulated world of weight loss supplements, there is not any solution to understand definitively what you are getting, how much or what it could do to you.
More than 70
In recent years, the FDA has gone after more than 70 tainted weight loss products. Many of them have names like Slim Burn, 24 Hours Diet, and Natural Model; after finding that they had been adulterated with undeclared stimulants, diuretics, and antidepressants. They often are in amounts exceeding the maximum recommended dosages at which such drugs can be prescribed.
Occasionally the additives are not legal even with a prescription. As an example, one nutritional supplement targeted by the FDA included fenproporex. It’s a stimulant not approved in America as it can cause arrhythmia and maybe even sudden death.
Moreover, these products often aren’t successful for the states for which they are advertised and could divert patients from potent drugs, according to Dr. Nissen. If they do appear to be making a difference, that may be cause for worry, too.
“If a weight loss supplement is working, it could be due to a stimulant whose safety is unproven,” says Arthur Agatston, MD, a cardiologist, and member of the Prevention advisory board. “Even in case you drop some weight, you might have unpleasant, even dangerous cardiac side effects.”
Why the Rules Do Not Work
“Individuals that are overweight or obese are distressed to slim down and exposed to snake oil salesmen pitching weight reduction products,” says Dr. Nissen. “Unfortunately, actions might not get taken until there’s a high profile departure.”
As far as the FDA knows, no one died after taking Slimming Beauty. But dangerous products commonly fall under the radar until there is a catastrophe. The FDA is nominally charged with the security of nutritional supplements. But its ability to police them is restricted by the size of the business and the extent of the FDA’s other obligations, along with the proven fact the bureau isn’t empowered to subject supplements to precisely the same type of examination it gives to drugs especially before they go in the marketplace.
“The the truth is the fact that we lack resources when it comes to authority, manpower, and money,” declares Siobhan DeLancey, an FDA representative. With an already tight budget, “we allocate our funds to protect the public health best. We focus on issues like foodborne illnesses that are causing serious sickness and death,” she explains.
The difficulty would be substantial even in the event the FDA were better equipped. Skilled approximations of the variety of nutritional supplements range from 40,000 to almost 75,000 products; including everything from vitamin C to things like Slimming Beauty. Supplement makers are required to register with the FDA—and the Council for Responsible Nutrition’s president and CEO, Steve Mister, asserts that all legitimate ones who make safe products do. But the agency concedes that there are so many it can’t keep track of them all. And makers of adulterated supplements may not register at all:
“Anyone can set up a Web page and put a US address on it,” DeLancey says. “This is a group of people that is willfully operating outside the law.”
Resources are short
Cracking back on nutritional supplements’ false and exaggerated advertisements is the duty of the Federal Trade Commission. But again, resources are short.
“When you’ve got a large number of goods and thousands and tens of thousands of ads, and you also may look at just a dozen or so cases annually. Then it’s essentially an unregulated place,” says Richard Cleland, an assistant director of the FTC’s division of marketing practices.
Over the years, several bills have been proposed in Congress to give the FDA more power to take action against the offenders; including one introduced by Senators Orrin Hatch and Tom Harkin last May. So far, none has made it out of committee and been passed. Until that takes place, it is your choice to keep yourself safe.