Pharmacy Services

Dietary Supplements for Weight Loss – Dangerous Ingredients (Updated)

December 23, 2016

FDA has evaluated multiple dietary supplements and found many contain undeclared drugs such as sibutramine, phenolphthalein, and lorcaserin, amongst others. Sibutramine was removed from the market by FDA in October 2010 due to safety concerns of drug interactions and adverse events such as increased blood pressure and pulse rate, with greater risk in patients with arrhythmias, coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, and stroke. Phenolphthalein was taken off the market due to risk of cancer. Lorcaserin is an FDA approved medication to treat obesity, and may cause psychiatric adverse events and life threatening drug interactions if taken incorrectly. The labeling for these dietary supplements does not mention these ingredients and the FDA considers these products to be illegal drugs.

Consumers are at risk due to these undeclared ingredients because they may interact with prescription drugs.  The FDA is warning patients not to purchase or consume these products and report any adverse events via MedWatch (www.fda.gov/MedWatch/report.htm or 1-800-FDA-1088).

Over the past few years, the following specific products have been recalled in response to FDA analyses:

Additionally, FDA has a general site for Fraudulent Dietary Supplements www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm246744.htm. This site gives overall guidance on dietary supplements that may be dangerous or illegal. Another FDA site titled Tainted Weight Loss Products at www.fda.gov/ Drugs/ ResourcesForYou/ Consumers/ BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/ MedicationHealthFraud/ucm234592.htm lists products FDA has warned consumers to not use due to undeclared ingredients. The FDA has only been able to test a small number of products due to the large number out on the market.  Some of the individual products that FDA has issued warnings are listed below. Most products are purchased on various website and various retail stores.

Updated
December 23, 2016; December 1, 2016; November 8, 2016; January 29, 2016; January 8, 2016; University of Utah, Drug Information Service. Copyright 2016, Drug Information Service, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT.