In many senses, the world is a jungle full of savage animals prepared to rip you limb from limb. OK, so that’s a slight exaggeration but there are many different ways in which you are at risk, particularly if you buy weight loss and diet products through the internet. The problem is simple. Unscrupulous people who only want your money frequently make tempting offers over the internet. They make claims about the extraordinary properties of their products. The effect will be visible within seven days, turning you from a barrel into a breathtakingly slim model with members of the opposite sex drooling over your wondrous beauty. The merely dishonest people either disappear with your money or send you chemically inactive pills. Losing your money and being disappointed are part of your education. But the really dangerous people send you pills containing active ingredients. Now you have lost your money and may find the pills damage your health.
Before a manufacturer can launch a drug on to the market, it must go through clinical trials to prove it is effective and safe to use. The FDA will only license its release if the benefits of taking it clearly outweigh the possible dangers of unwanted side effects. But no clinical trials are required for diet and weight loss products. Anyone can produce a product, label it, market it and sell it to you without there being any scientific test to ensure it is safe. In this, the US is acting recklessly. No government should assume all manufacturers will act responsibly. The only action taken by the FDA is to take random samples of products and to discover what ingredients they contain. This department of the FDA is underfunded and years can go by before a product is tested. By then, it can be too late and many people may have been injured.
In December 2008, the FDA named 27 weight loss products containing an excessive amount of sibutramine. It added the names of 34 products in April 2009. Sibutramine is the generic name of meridia, the FDA-approved drug for the treatment of obesity. It is a criminal offense for manufacturers to fail to declare the presence of a drug in their products. The reason for naming and banning these 61 products is that significant numbers of people had been showing up at emergency rooms with symptoms of poisoning. Let us be clear. Meridia is perfectly safe when used by people at risk because of their high body weight so long as they follow the directions given by their physician and pharmacist. The evidence from extensive clinical trials confirms it is safe and effective in suppressing your appetite. But when people take two and three times the recommended dose without warning, the results can be extremely dangerous. Yet again, this highlights the problems in the US arising from the lack of effective regulation over diet and weight loss products. Unless and until the FDA is given the power to license all products that may directly affect your health, you should avoid buying any unregulated product, whether over the counter or the internet. You will have no clear idea what you are buying nor whether it is safe. The risks of poisoning are too high. Stay safe. Buy only FDA approved drugs.