News Thursday August 11, 2011

MHRA issues warning against herbal slimming products

The government agency MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) has spoken out about their concern over herbal weight loss aids bought online.

The statement, available to view on their website, advises that many herbal slimming products available online are “potentially dangerous” because they have been found to contain pharmaceutical ingredients which were not disclosed on the label. This means that a person could unknowingly be taking a medication for which they were not suitable, and which could cause them serious harm. Some of these pharmaceutical ingredients were medications only available on prescription, such as sibutramine and tadalafil. Sibutramine used to be available as a treatment for obesity, but it has been associated with an increase in the risk of adverse cardiovascular side effects, and as such is not licensed in the UK.

The MHRA’s warnings follow from other regulatory agency’s statements from other countries, including the Swedish Medical Products Agency and the Hong Kong Department of Health. Products named in the warnings include Health Slimming Coffee and Botanical Slimming, among many others. These products are available on overseas websites and are then shipped to other countries.

The Group Manager for Herbal Medicines Policy at the MHRA, Richard Woodfield, quoted in the Independent, said that “[p]eople often assume that because herbal medicines and products contain natural extracts that they are automatically safe but this is not the case - no medicine or product is risk free.” He advises that people should consult a pharmacist or a doctor before purchasing these kinds of herbal slimming products online.

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