Dangerous diet pills not the answer to New Year’s resolutions

Posted 04 January 2016

This media release of the UK  Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), dated 31 December 2015, warns anyone looking to lose weight in the New Year to be aware of the dangers of buying diet pills online.

The press release continues:

During 2015 MHRA enforcement officers seized more than 240,000 doses of pills claiming to be for weight loss/slimming.

A number of the products seized were marketed as ‘all herbal’ or natural when, in fact, they were found to contain the synthetic medicine sibutramine. Sibutramine was withdrawn across Europe and the US in 2010 due to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes associated with its use.

Since 2005, MHRA officials have found hundreds of examples of medicines claiming to contain herbal ingredients but after analysis were found to be adulterated with pharmaceutical ingredients.

When considering whether to buy a product that describes itself as herbal or natural, consumers are advised to look for products that display the Traditional Herbal Registration (THR) logo and a THR/PL number. These products have been assessed by the MHRA and consumers can be confident that the quality is assured and that the information for consumers about the product and how to use it safely is correct.

MHRA senior policy advisor, Lynda Scammell said:

The Internet has access to a vast number of websites offering a wide range of products marketed as “slimming” or “diet” pills. Many make attractive claims and offer “quick-fix” solutions but be aware that “natural” does not mean “safe.

There is no miracle cure. The reality is that many of these pills are not authorised medicines and therefore their contents are unknown. Chances are they simply will not work and may contain dangerous unknown ingredients. The consequences can be devastating.

Our advice is not to purchase slimming pills online without having consulted a doctor or pharmacist first. If you have concerns about your weight, consult your GP or another healthcare professional.

Be safe and put your health first. It’s just not worth the risk.


Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is responsible for regulating all medicines and medical devices in the UK by ensuring they work and are acceptably safe. All our work is underpinned by robust and fact-based judgements to ensure that the benefits justify any risks. MHRA is a centre of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency which also includes the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) and the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD).MHRA is an executive agency of the Department of Health.

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