UK warns against sibutramine-laced herbal products

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Medicine

Beware herbals bearing sibutramine, warns the UK medicines regulator
Beware herbals bearing sibutramine, warns the UK medicines regulator
The UK medicines regulator has issued a warning about certain herbal products it has found to be laced with the banned substance sibutramine.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) warned consumers off products like ‘Instant Slim’, ‘Acai Berry ABC’ and ‘Sport Burner’ it said testing had revealed traces of sibutramine.

In Europe sibutramine has been used as a prescription only, anti-obesity drug, but links to increased risk of heart attacks and strokes saw it banned in January, 2010.

In issuing th consumer alert the MHRA advised consumers to look out for products that were approved under the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD) as a means to avoid products that may contain controlled substances.

“The MHRA is committed to ensuring that people are protected from medicines and products that may harm their health,”​ said MHRA group manager for Herbal Medicines Policy, Richard Woodfield.

“People often assume that because herbal medicines and products contain natural extracts they are automatically safe but this is not the case – no medicine or product is risk free.

"We urge people not to take any slimming medicines or products bought online without consulting with a pharmacist or doctor as they risk being supplied with medicines that are not safe or not suitable for them to use."

“People can also protect themselves by making sure they look out for the Traditional Herbal Registration (THR) logo, as products and medicines bearing this logo have been assessed and quality checked to ensure that they are safe to use.

Other warnings

The warning follows others issued by regulators in other countries such as Australia, the US, Hong Kong, Sweden, the Netherlands and Canada.

“It simply is not worth the danger to overall health to buy and use these products as you just don’t know what is in them and any weight loss results they offer could come with such huge risk,” ​Woodhead added.

“It simply is not worth the danger to overall health to buy and use these products as you just don’t know what is in them and any weight loss results they offer could come with such huge risk.”

Sibutramine, along with sildenafil, glibenclamide, tadalafil, vardenafil or their analogues, or lignocaine, is commonly found illegally in botanical products claiming to aid weight loss or erectile dysfunction.

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