Swissmedic, Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products, has recently analysed samples of seized imports of herbal slimming products. A total of 13 samples of 10 different products were investigated for synthetic active substances and heavy metals. Over half of them contained non-declared synthetic ingredients and are thus classified as potentially dangerous falsified medicines. In addition, and in Swissmedic's opinion, this constitutes deliberately confusing users of these supposedly natural slimming products.
Results of the analysis carried out in the Swissmedic laboratory:
Synthetic active substances were found in 8 of the 13 samples examined, In 3 of the samples, a combination of the active substances Sibutramin and Phenolphthalein was identified. In a further 3 samples, Sibutramin alone was contained and in one sample, Phenolphthalein alone was present. Caffeine was identified in one sample.
Sibutramin is a synthetic substance with a strong effect, and can only be obtained on prescription in Switzerland. One sample, containing 21.5 mg of the substance, represented 43% more of the substance than the recommended daily dose. When taking Sibutramin, patients must be made aware of numerous contraindications and safety precautions. If this is not the case, the risks to health are significant. For that reason, Sibutramin may only be taken when medically prescribed and under the supervision of a physician.
Phenolphthalein is a laxative rarely used today. It can also have various side effects and - like caffeine - is not suitable for achieving lasting weight loss.
A total of 5 samples contained neither synthetic active substances nor heavy metals. These products were either tea bags or in one case capsules that were not ordered via the Internet.
Heavy metal impurities and manufacturing shortcomings
Some samples were tested for contamination with the heavy metals lead, cadmium and mercury. One product, named "Reducing weight easily" exceeded the ceiling value for lead content to a massive extent (over 50 times the permitted maximum) and the ceiling value for mercury by 6 times. This sample revealed, in the same packaging, blisters with dark green capsules and blisters with yellow and pink capsules, which is unacceptable within controlled manufacturing.
Two samples of the same product (Li Da Daidaihua) consisted of the same capsules and packaging. The content of the capsules nevertheless varied: one sample revealed brown content in the capsules in which caffeine was identified, whereas the other capsules, containing white powder, contained Sibutramin.
Swissmedic therefore issues an urgent warning regarding the following slimming medicines originating from Asia (all in the form of capsules), since they contain non-declared synthetic active substances and some of them contain levels of heavy metals that are massively above the ceiling value (see right column).
|Name of the slimming product
|Li Da Daidaihua||Coffein|
|Li Da Daidaihua||Sibutramin 21.5 mg|
|Reducing weight easily||Sibutramin 9.7 mg, Phenolphtalein
|Reducing weight easily||Sibutramin 9.6 / 9.8 mg, Phenolphtalein, Schwermetalle: Pb 239 ppm, Hg 0.64 ppm
|24" ince||Sibutramin 4.5 mg
|Zhen de shou fat loss capsule||Phenolphthalein|
|Light Some||Sibutramin 7.8 mg
|Pearl White Slimming||Sibutramin 9.3 mg, Phenolphthalein