‘Dangerous’ diet pills bypassing health system

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Dieters are purchasing potentially ‘dangerous’ slimming pills online that bypass checks by regulatory authorities, a new survey reveals.

The research, carried out by the UK Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA), found that online slimming pills drew people in with ‘quick-fix’ promises and ‘discreet deliveries’.

In the MHRA’s survey of 1,800 dieters, 77% were attracted by promises of fast weight loss, 57% reported liking the discreet online delivery service, and 44% ordered the pills because they did not want to speak to a GP or pharmacist.

Many unregulated weight-loss products contain pharmaceutical ingredients that have been withdrawn due to concerns regarding safety. Potential health implications include cardiac complications, visual disturbances and gastrointestinal disturbances. Of concern, although 63% of survey respondents reported experiencing some of these side-effects, 81% said they did not report them to anyone.

Lynda Scammell, Senior Policy Manager at MHRA, said: ‘Quick fixes for losing weight may have serious health consequences in the short or long term, including organ failure and death.’

‘…There are reputable groups out there that can support you to lose weight through healthy lifestyle changes. Your GP or healthcare professional will be able to advise you on finding the right option for you.’

Head of External Affairs at Slimming World, Jenny Caven, emphasized the importance of a healthy, balanced lifestyle when attempting weight loss.

She said: ‘Not only is it safer, it’s also far more satisfying and has the added benefit that newfound habits can be passed on to the people around you too.’

The only medication currently licensed for weight management in the UK is available for clinically-obese people. The MHRA is urging people to speak with their GP for advice on weight loss.