Simply Slim to continue selling pill

2010-04-26 00:00

SIMPLY Slim has hit back at allegations by the Health Department that its weight loss capsules are “harmful medicinal products”.

Simply Slim was banned by the Medicines Control Committee (MCC) in February after some capsules tested positive for the drug sibutramine.

The company has since submitted an appeal which effectively freezes the ban pending further investigation.

Sibutramine, an appetite suppressant, was banned by the European Union after safety concerns were raised by users who were affected by the drug; studies showed it increases the risks of heart attacks and strokes.

A spokesperson for Simply Slim, Lance Rothschild, said the company has conducted a nationwide recall of its capsules after they tested positive.

“Sibutramine was found in some products, so we recalled everything,” said Rothschild.

“Simply Slim spent tens of millions recalling the product,” he said. “They acted beyond the requirements of the law.”

Simply Slim was manufactured in Beijing, China, and was marketed as a 100% herbal slimming programme.

The new capsules are being manufactured in South Africa, and according to the company, contain a “natural herbal mix” of bitter orange, L-carnitine fumerate, cassia seed extract, alisma orientalis, lotus leaf and evening primrose oil — with no sibutramine”.

A local Simply Slim agent, Angela Hodgson, who is the wner of Wellness on Victoria, said new boxes of capsules come with unique product numbers. Those numbers can be sent via USSD (by dailing *120*8683*7546# on any mobile phone) to a centralised Simply Slim verification centre where the authenticity of the product will be established.

According to Rothschild and Simply Slim CEO Justin Adriaanse, despite threats from the Health Department, agents selling the product should continue without fear.

“We refuse to be intimidated by any individual or organisation — even if it is an organ of state,” said Adriaanse. “We have taken legal advice, we are acting within our rights and we are committed to complying with legislative requirements.”

Despite assurances that the new Simply Slim capsules are safe for consumption, national spokesperson for the Health Department Fidel Hadebe said “certain requirements have not been fulfilled by Simply Slim, especially those relating to the safety, quality and efficacy of the product”.

“We have [the] responsibility to protect members of the public from any harmful medicinal products.”

Hadebe said the situation is under investigation and that “the matter is before the lawyers of both parties with a view to resolving it”.

Despite the recall of the “old” capsules, some Pietermaritzburg residents have reported sideeffects while using the new sibutramine-free product.

To this, Hodgson said, “Every person reacts differently to natural products. In most cases you find an allergic reaction to an ingredient.”

Hodgson said one of her clients discovered she is allergic to bitter orange, “it had nothing to do with Simply Slim; her body just could not handle bitter orange,” she said.

According to Hodgson, customers are asked to fill out forms detailing their medical histories before purchasing the product.

“If, for example, the client is on mood stabilisers, we will need to consult his or her doctor before taking Simply Slim,” she said.

While the MCC continues its investigation, Adriaanse has encouraged agents to keep selling.

“There are no legal grounds for the arrest of any individual selling Simply Slim.

“Simply Slim will fully and totally support any individual who is arrested for selling the new product and will take care of all legal costs,” he said.

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