Fen-Phen’s Dangerous Successors

It’s been almost 12 years since the FDA asked to have fen-phen, the popular diet drug, to be removed from the diet drug. Fen-phen, a mixture of fenfluramine and phentermine, was causing valvular heart disease as well as pulmonary hypertension. Years of litigation and destroyed lives later, the FDA is now going after another set of diet drugs. This time the problem concerns the unknown or “hidden” ingredients in diet drugs that are marketed as natural. In spot inspections, the FDA has cited 69 weight loss supplements such as StarCaps, Sliminate, Superslim, ans SlimUp to name a few. The problem with these products is that the FDA has no real regulatory authority over their approval prior to their entering the marketplace. The FDA can step in and do spot checks which they are doing on a limited basis but the proverbial barn door is already open. The NY Times quoted Michael Levy as saying, “A large percentage of these products either contain dangerous undeclared ingredients or they might be outright fraudulent on the ingredients and have no effect at all,” said Michael Levy, the director of the F.D.A.’s division of New Drugs and Labeling Compliance. “We don’t think consumers should be using these products.”
This could be a more dangerous consumer product safety issue than fen-phen. At least with fen-phen, those who used the product knew what was actually in the drug. Now, with the prevalence of these new supplements, the consumer has no real idea what they are ingesting into their system. Furthermore, if something happens to the person using such supplements, a doctor will have trouble diagnosing the issue correctly because he or she will be in the dark as to what’s in the supplement. The federal government needs to change the law concerning these supplements and ensure some sort of regulatory approval process PRIOR to these products entering the marketplace. Right now, if you take these so-called natural supplements you’re playing Russian roulette with your health and quite possibly your life.