SA in the dark over diet pills

2013-10-27 13:20

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Pretoria - South African consumers have been kept in the dark about a potentially life-threatening weight-loss supplement after the US issued warnings two weeks ago.

According to the Sunday Times, the weight-loss and pre-workout supplement OxyElite Pro, was withdrawn from shelves in the US following at least 20 cases in Hawaii of acute non-viral hepatitis. Among those hospitalised, two have had liver transplants and one person has died.

However, some South African stores only pulled the product late on Friday - this after the South African distributor, Bolus Distribution, started informing stockists of the dangers on Wednesday. The Medicines Control Council said it was unaware of the issue but that it would launch an investigation. 

Simply Slim

This is not the first time a weight-loss supplement was withdrawn from shelves in South Africa. In 2010 the health department announced that the diet pill Simply Slim was recalled with immediate effect for safety reasons.

"The Medicines Control Council suspended sales of the product," health spokesperson Fidel Radebe announced at the time.

Radebe said the product should have been registered with the MCC and it was not.

"People have been complaining about difficulties during and after using this product. It can be dangerous to use," he said.

Beeld reported that the slimming product, which claims to be 100% herbal, contained sibutramine.

According to health regulations, any pill containing sibutramine must be registered as a prescription medicine and must contain no more than 15mg sibutramine.

Beeld, quoting Dr George van der Watt, a chemical pathologist at a Cape laboratory, said tests showed Simply Slim contained 27mg of sibutramine.

Side effects of sibutramine could include an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

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