Product Liability

Diet pill indicated as contributing cause of Bubba Smith’s death

Results from an autopsy indicate the diet pill phentermine contributed to the death of Bubba Smith, the towering all-pro football player-turned-actor and commercial spokesman. Smith was also found to have heart disease and high blood pressure. He was 66.

The autopsy report listed as a contributing cause of death acute phentermine intoxication, a condition that can cause the heart to beat irregularly and the body to overheat until the person collapses. Phentermine was one ingredient in the diet pill combination “Fen-Phen,” which was pulled from the market after it was shown to cause serious heart risks.

Fenfluramine – the “fen” part of the combination drug – was implicated as the more dangerous ingredient in the combination pill. Phentermine is still prescribed to control appetite in obese or overweight patients.

Diet pills are a risky option for consumers looking for prescription weight loss solutions. The drug orlistate is available as a prescription under the name Xenical and over-the-counter as Alli. Both Alli and Xenical have unpleasant side effects, such as oily, loose stools. But the drugs also carry a risk for organ failure.

The diet drug Meridia, which contains sibutramine, was pulled from the market in 2010 because of serious health risks such as increased blood pressure and/or heart rate as well as death.

Smith’s autopsy report also showed that his heart was enlarged and some blood vessels were blocked as much as 75 percent.

Smith was born Charles Aaron Smith in Beaumont, Texas. The 6-foot-7-inch, 280-pound defensive end became an All-American for the Michigan State Spartans. He was the No. 1 NFL draft pick and joined the Baltimore Colts in 1967. Smith also played for the Oakland Raiders and the Houston Oilers before a knee injury ended his career in 1976. Soon after, he became a spokesperson for Miller Lite beer, and then moved on to acting roles in movies and TV. He is most noted for his roles as Moses Hightower in six “Police Academy” movies.

LA Times