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Asian slimming supplements often packed with sibutramine

Researchers at the Polish National Medicines Institute are worried about the growing numbers of Europeans that are buying Asian supplements containing slimming herbs through the internet. According to their analyses, these products often contain dangerously high doses of sibutramine, or close relations of this risky chemical, without this being mentioned on the label.

A few months ago the Poles published analyses of supplements that had been confiscated by customs. Most samples came from the airport at Warsaw. The products in question were Meizitang [shown in the figure at the bottom of the page: 6], Meizitanc [2], LiDa Dai Dai Hua Jiao Nang [1], Super Slim [3], 3X Slimming Power [4], White Lion White Tea [above] and Miaozi [5].

The researchers examined 25 products in total. They determined whether the slimming supplements contained sibutramine, or the sibutramine analogues N-desmethylsibutramine and N-didesmethylsibutramine. [Structural formulas shown below.]

Asian slimming supplements often packed with sibutramine

Sibutramine was available as a diet drug in the EU for a couple of years, but doctors no longer prescribe it as it causes cardiovascular disease in some people. N-Desmethylsibutramine and N-didesmethylsibutramine are designer versions van sibutramine. Untrustworthy supplements companies put these in their products because they know that the authorities can trace sibutramine. The companies hope that government labs won't spot the designer varieties.

The sibutramine analogues work almost as well as sibutramine. N-Desmethylsibutramine actually works better than ordinary sibutramine. But then again the risk of side effects is greater with N-desmethylsibutramine than with sibutramine.

In 23 of the 25 slimming supplements the researchers found at times extremely high concentrations of sibutramine or N-desmethylsibutramine. The graph below shows the amount of mg sibutramines the Poles found per capsule in the slimming supplements.

Supplements 1-11: LiDa, supplement 12: Meizitanc, supplements 13-16: Meizitang, supplement 17: Super Slim, supplement 18: 3X Slimming Power, supplement 19: White Lion, supplements 20-23: Miaozi.

Asian slimming supplements often packed with sibutramine

Asian slimming supplements often packed with sibutramine

SIB = sibutramine, DSIB = N-desmethylsibutramine.

Asian slimming supplements often packed with sibutramine
When doctors still prescribed sibutramine the maximum daily dose was 15 mg. As you can see, 16 of the preparations contain more than the 15 mg. On top of that, the manufacturers usually advise users to take 2-3 capsules per day. People who take LiDa capsules, for example, would unknowingly consume 84 mg sibutramine per day. The researchers describe the slimming supplements they analysed as "really dangerous for human health and even life."

"These products not only have poor quality but also are adulterated with synthetic compounds", the Poles write. "Thus the governments of developed countries should pay special attention to the situation on the dietary supplements market. Distribution of products of unknown origin or dubious quality should be strictly forbidden."

J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2011 Dec 15;56(5):969-75.

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