Product Liability

FDA warns of dangerous dietary supplement, weight loss pills

Those who have weight loss on their New Year’s resolutions list should be wary of dietary supplements sold over-the-counter at retail stores and online that claim they can help. These supplements may contain ingredients that can be dangerous and even deadly.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued multiple warnings this year about dietary supplements that were found to contain the undeclared controlled substance sibutramine. Sold under the brand name Meridia, sibutramine was pulled from the market in October 2010 because of serious health risks.

Sibutramine is a centrally acting serotinin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor structurally related to amphetamines. It is known to substantially increase blood pressure and/or pulse rate in some patients and may present a significant risk for patients with a history of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias or stroke. The product may also interact in life-threatening ways with other medications.

The FDA has recently come down on yet another OTC dietary supplement found to contain sibutramine, Fruta Planta. The FDA has received multiple reports of adverse events associated with the product, including several cardiac events and one death.

Fruta Planta is promoted and sold on various websites, such as www.frutaplanta.com, as a dietary supplement for weight loss. Consumers with the supplement in their possession should stop using it immediately and throw it away. People who have experienced any negative side effects should contact their doctor as soon as possible.

Side effects also should be reported to the FDA MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program at www.FDA.gov/MedWatch.