06.06.2011 - Swissmedic, the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products, has analysed 122 samples from seized imports of slimming products at its laboratory. The results are alarming: most of the products are dangerous to health. Swissmedic therefore issues another strong warning against the use of medicinal products distributed via the Internet.
The 122 samples of various slimming products come from illegally imported medicinal products that were seized by the Swiss customs authorities last year. Before they were destroyed, Swissmedic examined them at its laboratory.
Dangerous active substances
Analysis showed that over half of the products had serious quality defects. In addition, nearly 90% of them contained active substances that are dangerous to health. Many products contained Sibutramine, which was already withdrawn from the market worldwide, over a year ago, because it can lead to heart and circulatory complications. Some samples revealed triple the previously recommended dose, which is life-threatening.
Rimonabant, another active substance used for weight loss, has also been withdrawn by regulatory authorities for medicines throughout the world because of its unfavourable risk / benefits ratio. Despite this, it is still manufactured - above all in China - and made available on illegal websites. These active substances are moreover sold at remarkably low prices: this also means that the counterfeiters are not concerned about including excessively high doses of them in their products.
One third of the samples analysed were stated as being "purely herbal", but nevertheless contained chemical ingredients. Such products are being ordered from the Internet to an increasing extent, and not only in Switzerland. Last year, Swissmedic's partner authorities reported 74 slimming products that claimed to be herbal but in fact all contained Sibutramine, and for the most part in dangerous quantities. The products often bore Asian names, and the capsules were usually packaged attractively. Some of them were even presented as nutritional products such as tea or coffee.
Measures taken and warning on the part of the authorities
In order to protect the population, packages containing illegal medicinal products are not only stopped at the Swiss borders, but international market surveillance operations are carried out and sources of dangerous medicinal products are reported to foreign authorities. For example, and in parallel to issuing a public warning about the slimming product "LiDa Dai Dai Hua", Swissmedic informed other national authorities of the European sender's address. Thanks to a recent international operation, it was possible to disrupt the criminal organisation behind this trade.
Because of the alarming results of this latest analysis, Swissmedic is once again issuing an strong warning about the dangers of ordering medicinal products from the Internet, since they represent a very serious threat to health. Swissmedic also reminds the public that it is legally forbidden to import large quantities of medicinal products into Switzerland.