Sunday, August 30, 2015

FDA warns consumers of counterfeit version of diet drug

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently issued a warning for consumers to be on the watch for counterfeit, and potentially dangerous, versions of the over-the-counter diet drug Alli.

FDA warns consumers of counterfeit version of diet drug

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As the snow falls Thursday, Ronnie Murphy sells umbrellas for a bargain price of $3 near the Market Street subway on 15th Street. (Sarah Schu / Staff Photographer)
As the snow falls Thursday, Ronnie Murphy sells umbrellas for a bargain price of $3 near the Market Street subway on 15th Street. (Sarah Schu / Staff Photographer)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently issued a warning for consumers to be on the watch for counterfeit, and potentially dangerous, versions of the over-the-counter diet drug Alli.

The fake capsules of the drug (orlistat) that is made by GlaxoSmithKline – a prescription version sold as Xenical is made by Swiss-based Roche – contain a white powder while the real version has small white pellets. The FDA notice stated that the counterfeit drugs contain a stimulant that can sometimes cause fatal side effects, especially for people with heart problems.

Orlistat is intended for use with patient specific low-calorie, low-fat diet programs that include an exercise regimen. The drug works by stopping the intestines from absorbing some of the fat in food. The most common side effect of the medication is a change in bowel movements. More serious side effects include hives, difficulty breathing and severe abdominal pain.

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Check Up is a blog for savvy health consumers, covering the latest developments, discoveries, and debates from the Philadelphia area and beyond.

Portions of this blog may also be found in the Inquirer's Sunday Health Section.

Charlotte Sutton Health and Science Editor, Philadelphia Inquirer
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Michael R. Cohen, R.Ph. President, Institute for Safe Medication Practices
Daniel R. Hoffman, Ph.D. President, Pharmaceutical Business Research Associates
Hooman Noorchashm, M.D., Ph.D. Cardiothoracic surgeon in the Philadelphia area
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