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Dietary supplements containing sibutramine claim victims

There's a steady stream of reports of sibutramine [structural formula below] being added secretly to weight-loss supplements. The most recent comes from Germany. Pharmacologists at the GIZ-Nord in Goettingen discuss in the Deutsches Aerzteblatt International seventeen cases of sibutramine poisoning. Two users had to be admitted to the psychiatric ward of a hospital.

The cases the Germans describe were all the result of using the same supplement. The Germans do not name the supplement, but they do say that the users had bought the supplement over the internet. According to the online stores that sell the supplement in question, the capsules only contain traditional Chinese herbs, but the researchers discovered that each capsule also contained thirty milligrams of sibutramine.

That's a lot. The maximum dose prescribed by doctors is fifteen milligrams per day.

Sibutramine is a serotonin and norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitor. The substance increases the concentration of catecholamines in the body, which is a way of suppressing appetite. Sibutramine has similar effects to amphetamines.

Dietary supplements containing sibutramine claim victims

A seventeen-year-old girl who was also taking medicines for ADHD, atomoxetine and Ritalin, developed serious problems. Another serious case was that of a man on anti-psychotics, who went into psychosis after using the herbal pills. Both people were admitted to hospital.

Although the Germans don't have the courage to call the supplement by its name, they do cite publications of colleagues who did name names. Other German researchers have found sibutramine in the past few years in Evolution Slim & Slender, and Polish researchers discovered 10 milligrams of sibutramine in the Chinese diet pills Meizitanc.

Dietary supplements containing sibutramine claim victims
In January of this year, the American FDA reported that it had found "a significant amount" of sibutramine in Venom Hyperdrive 3.0, and recommended that it be banned from the market. [ January 27, 2009] A short time later, the Netherlands Health Care Inspectorate issued a warning about Venom Hyperdrive 3.0, after having commissioned an investigation of the product. From this study it emerged that each capsule of Venom Hyperdrive contains about eight milligrams of sibutramine. [ 28-01-2009] The manufacturer, ALR Industries, says on its website that it had already stopped producing Venom Hyperdrive 3.0, adding that the dose of eight milligrams of sibutramine was just a "trace amount".

But the one that really takes the cookie is the manufacturer of the Chinese dietary supplement Jia Yi Jian. Tests done at the British Food Standards Agency's lab revealed that one capsule contained over seventy milligrams of sibutramine and fifty milligrams of tadalafil. [ 08-Apr-2009]

Dtsch Arztebl Int 2009; 106(13): 218-22.

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