Policy-ish

One More Reason To Avoid Diet Drug Fakes: They're Dangerous

Remember the counterfeit versions of diet drug Alli we warned you about recently? Now, there's even more reason to be concerned.

The Food and Drug Administration is reporting that some people have gotten fake Alli that contained twice the recommended dose of sibutramine (aka. Meridia), another diet drug. The issue is possible heart problems.

The FDA discovered the illegal Alli-Meridia switch when otherwise healthy people reported feeling anxious, shaky, nauseated, and sleepless after taking the bogus Alli. Some even had heart palpitations. No deaths have been reported.

Even though both drugs are approved by the FDA for weight loss, sibutramine is not recommended for people with a history of cardiovascular disease because it can lead to elevated blood pressure, stroke and heart attack. Alli works by blocking fat; sibutramine suppresses the appetite.

The package that the counterfeit Alli comes in looks very similar to the real product. It's primarily being sold as a refill at online auction sites, the FDA says.

Some of the differences between the real and fake: The counterfeit doesn't have a lot number on the packaging. And while it does have an expiration date that has the month, date and year, the real Alli only lists the month and year. (View photos of counterfeit Alli.)

Also, the plain inner foil of the adulterated Alli does not have the words "SEALED FOR YOUR PROTECTION" printed on it. And the large capsules contain white powder instead of the white pellets found in the real Alli.

Consumers are advised to make sure their version of Alli is genuine. If not, the FDA recommends stopping the drug immediately and to dispose of the drug.

Consumers should also contact the FDA or Alli's maker, GlaxoSmithKline.

The FDA is also requesting that people who experience any side effects contact the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program.

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