Diet pills blamed in cases of serious liver injuries

bathroom scale iStock CROPPED Diet pills blamed in cases of serious liver injuries Diet pills and energy boosters marketed online and at retail stores as natural herbal supplements may sound safe and effective, but buyer beware. These so-called “natural” dietary supplements may cause dangerous side effects.

Robert J. Fontana, M.D., a hepatologist and medical director of the Liver Transplant Program at the University of Michigan Health System, published a paper in which he detailed seven cases of patients hospitalized with liver injury after taking the weight loss product OxyELITE Pro. The patients were treated at various medical centers across the country participating in the Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network (DILIN).

The six patients noted by Dr. Fontana who were hospitalized after taking OxyELITE Pro were generally healthy, middle-aged adults who had followed the manufacturer’s recommended dosage. Of those six, three developed acute liver failure and two required emergency liver transplants. Dr. Fontana pointed out in the paper that often serious injuries with dietary supplements often go under the radar.

“You think you’re taking something to give you a little more energy and then, lo and behold, you’ve got a bad liver problem that lands you in the hospital,” he said.

OxyELITE Pro isn’t the only herbal supplement to land consumers in the hospital. In 2009, the makers of the weight loss supplement Hydroxycut recalled 14 variations of the product line after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received nearly two dozen reports of serious liver injuries in people who had used the product.

The sad truth is that many dietary supplements – in particular those marketed for weight loss, athletic performance, body building or sexual enhancement – contain hidden drug ingredients that can lead to life threatening adverse events. Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that dietary supplements were the cause of as many as 20,000 emergency department visits annually.

“I don’t advise my patients to take any over-the-counter product willy-nilly,” Dr. Fontana said. “These products are medically unproven and carry potential risk since the manufacturers are not required to demonstrate efficacy or safety in patients prior to marketing them.”

Source: Knowridge Science Report