Counterfeit US diet pill leads to hospitalizations

Product presented as a food supplement smuggled into Israel, poses threat to consumers because contents known to substantially increase blood pressure and pulse rates in some patients.

May 23, 2011 03:38
1 minute read.
Drug company

Pharmacist pouring something 311. (photo credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)

An illegal diet drug containing sibutramine – withdrawn from the US market last October for safety reasons – has been smuggled into Israel, and has, in recent months, sent a “large number” of people to hospitals, according to Mickey Ariely of the Health Ministry’s Pharmaceutical Crime Unit.

The product, labelled “Slim Xtreme Herbal Slimming Capsule,” and presented as a food supplement, poses a threat to consumers because sibutramine is known to substantially increase blood pressure and pulse rates in some patients, and may present a significant risk for patients with a history of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias and stroke, said the US Food and Drug Administration.

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The product may also interact in life-threatening ways with other medications that may be taken.

According to Ariely, some of the Israeli victims were hospitalized not only in cardiology wards, but also in psychiatric departments.

His unit has already intercepted “thousands” of the counterfeit “slimming pills,” many of which were sent from the US from websites run by Israelis abroad.

Ariely said he asked the FDA to enforce the law regarding sibutramine to catch violators who distribute the counterfeit drugs from the US that reach Israel.

The FDA has already sent out an official warning about Slim Xtreme Herbal Slimming Capsules.

The FDA warned consumers who come across the counterfeit pills to stop using this product immediately and destroy them.

“Consumers who have experienced any negative side effects should consult a health-care professional as soon as possible,” the FDA warned.

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