U.S. drug officials recall weight loss pill

U.S. government health officials are warning dieters and body builders to immediately stop using Hydroxycut, a widely sold Canadian-made supplement linked to cases of serious liver damage and at least one death.

WASHINGTON — U.S. government health officials are warning dieters and body builders to immediately stop using Hydroxycut, a widely sold Canadian-made supplement linked to cases of serious liver damage and at least one death.

The Food and Drug Administration said the Canadian maker of the dietary supplement has agreed to recall 14 Hydroxycut products. Available in grocery stores and pharmacies, Hydroxycut is advertised as made from natural ingredients.

At least nine million packages were sold last year, the FDA said.

Dr. Linda Katz of the FDA’s food and nutrition division said the agency has received 23 reports of liver problems, including the death of a 19-year-old boy living in the Southwest. The teenager died in 2007 and the death was reported to the FDA this March.

Other patients experienced symptoms ranging from jaundice, or yellowing of the skin, to liver failure. One received a transplant and another was placed on a list to await a new liver.

There was no immediate comment from the U.S. distributor of the diet pill, Lovate Health Sciences, headquartered near Buffalo, N.Y. Made by a Canadian company, Hydroxycut is used by people trying to shed pounds and by body builders to sharpen their muscles.

Dietary supplements aren’t as tightly regulated by the government as medications. Manufacturers don’t need to prove to the FDA that their products are safe and effective before they can sell them to consumers.

But regulators monitor aftermarket reports for signs of trouble, and in recent years companies have been put under stricter requirements to alert the FDA when they learn of problems.

On the Net: FDA press release: http://tinyurl.com/cfxjbe

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