Consumer AlertCoughFDA/FTC/CDCObesity

Consumer Alert: 40 more weight loss products

There are 80 drugs on the FDA list of weight loss products that contain undeclared drugs or chemicals.

Here’s the complete list, including 40 products added on January 8th.

The contaminants include bumetanide, sibutramine, rimonabant, phenytoin, and phenolphthalein.


  • The active ingredient in a diuretic called Bumex.
  • Taking it increased the risk of low blood pressure, fluid and electrolyte loss, and elevated uric acid blood levels.
  • People allergic to sulfonamides shouldn’t use it.
  • Drug interactions with digoxin (Lanoxin) and lithium (Eskalith) may increase its toxicity.


  • It’s the active ingredient in Meridia, the anti-obesity drug.
  • Some products recommend taking more than 3 times the usual daily dosage of sibutramine, which raises the risk of increased blood pressure, tachycardia, palpitations, and seizure.


  • This drug is not approved for use in the US.
  • In Europe it’s called Accomplia.
  • The UK has linked rimonabant to 5 deaths and 720 adverse reactions over 2 years.
  • The European Medicines Agency recommended suspending sales of Accomplia due to safety concerns.


  • It’s an anti-seizure medicine known as Dilantin.
  • Could pose a risk to consumers who are allergic or hypersensitive to it.


  • It was included in some over-the-counter laxatives until 1999 when the FDA reclassified it as “not generally recognized as safe and effective.”
  • It poses a potential cancer-causing risk.
  • Phenolphthalein can damage or cause mutations in DNA.

The bottom line?
People at greatest risk of serious adverse health effects are listed here.

  • A history of hypertension, especially those with uncontrolled or poorly controlled blood pressure
  • A history of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, or stroke
  • Narrow angle glaucoma
  • A history of seizure
  • A predisposition to bleeding and those taking drugs known to affect blood clotting
  • Severe liver disease
  • Taking the following medications
    • Sumatriptan (Imitrex)
    • Dihydroergotamine (D.H.E. 45)
    • Dextromethorphan (used to treat coughing)
    • Meperidine (Demerol)
    • Pentazocine (Talwin)
    • Fentanyl (Duragesic, Actiq)
    • Lithium
    • Tryptophan (a dietary supplement)
    • MAO inhibitors (Marplan, Nardil, others)

1/8/09 19:06 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.