The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expanding its nationwide alert to consumers about tainted weight loss pills that contain undeclared, active pharmaceutical ingredients. On December 22, 2008, FDA warned consumers not to purchase or consume 28 different products marketed for weight loss. Since that time, FDA analysis has identified 41 more tainted weight loss products that may put consumers’ health at risk. 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), phenolphthalein (a solution used in chemical experiments and a suspected cancer causing agent) and bumetanide (a diuretic). 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.