Illegal Drugs Found in Weight Loss Medicines

October 14th, 2010
Illegal Drugs Found in Weight Loss Medicines

In a recent analysis, it was found that many natural, herbal remedies contain illegal drugs created in labs known as pharmaceutical agents. Research was done into the number and types of weight loss drugs taken by 66 people who were brought into Princess Margaret Hospital, Hong Kong. It was found they had, combined, taken 81 different weight loss drugs, 61 of which contained a minimum of two illegal substances. 2 of the products contained 6 illegal substances.

“This is exactly the same issue as we are having here” says Dr. Pieter Cohan, an internist at the Cambridge Health Alliance and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard. The strict drug surveillance in Hong Kong means it is often one of the first places to detect any illegal substance related issues.

A recent study by Chemical and Engineering News of natural and herbal remedies for weight loss discovered that a lack of research into the drugs has led to issues with their validity and could prove dangerous. As recently as 2 to 3 years ago the Food and Drug Association recalled 3 weight loss drugs due to the discovery of a number of questionable substances, including sibutramine and the antidepressant, Prozac.

Fenfluramine, a drug related to loss of appetite, was banned in the U.S. in the late 90s but was found in a daunting 13 of the 81 drugs studied. Sibutramine, which is also known as Meridia was taken from shelves in October as it was found to enhance the chances of heart problems, as well as the laxative, phenolphthalein which is linked to cancer.

A final, sobering discovery made recently is the use of drugs in weight loss supplements made in labs that are completely untested. As Dr. Cohen states, “this is really using the consumer…as guinea pigs.”

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