Losing weight and getting into shape are some of the most popular New Years resolutions, and also some of the most difficult ones to keep. Many people turn to dietary supplements to help burn fat or make their workouts more effective. But consumers should use caution, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises in a Consumer Update. Some diet pills and performance enhancers contain ingredients or hidden drugs that have caused consumers to suffer serious injuries and death.
The FDA has found hundreds of fraudulent products – promoted mainly for weight loss, sexual enhancement, and bodybuilding/athletic performance – that contain prescription drugs or their analogs (closely related drugs), or other compounds, such as novel synthetic steroids, that do not qualify as dietary ingredients.
“These products are masquerading as dietary supplements – they may look like dietary supplements but they are not legal dietary supplements,” says Michael Levy, director of DA’s Division of New Drugs and Labeling Compliance. “Some of these products contain hidden prescription ingredients at levels much higher than those found in an approved drug product and are dangerous.”
Some drugs found hidden in dietary supplements in the past year include sibutramine, a stimulant that was banned in the U.S. after it was linked to heart risks; the erectile dysfunction drugs Viagra and Cialis, which can cause dangerous drops in blood pressure; diazepam, the active drug ingredient in the anti-anxiety drug Valium; phenolphthalein, a chemical that has been associated with an increased risk of cancer; and anabolic steroids, which have been linked to several physical and psychological side effects.
The FDA has received numerous reports of harm associated with use of these products, including stroke, liver injury, kidney failure, cardiovascular events, and death.
Just because you see a supplement product on a store shelf does not mean it is safe or effective, the FDA warns. “We need consumers to be aware of these dangerous products and learn how to identify and avoid them,” Levy says.
Source: FDA Consumer Update