Women are still using a recalled over-the-counter weight-loss supplement. Pai You Guo was banned by the FDA in 2009, because it contained two drugs: sibutramine, the active ingredient in the now-defunct Abbot drug Meridia, and Phenolpthalein, an ingredient removed from over-the-counter laxatives after it was pegged as a potential carcinogen.
According to a study, one area of the country failed to remove the banned supplement from its shelves, which subsequently gave the illusion that it was okay to buy and use. A survey of 565 woman found that 23% reported using Pai You Guo, with 85% reporting at least one side effect, including dry mouth, anxiety and insomnia. The worst part is that 61% of respondents bought the supplement after the product.
It can be very tough to get information out to every segment of the population, said FDA spokeswoman Siobhan DeLancy. The agency claims to have worked hard with media and consumer groups to get the word out on recalled supplements, but “we are relying on people to come to our site or to read news stories.”
Delancey’s advice to consumers: if you see a supplement with no distributor or manufacturer information on the label, and with packaging in a foreign language, be wary. And also, be cautious about any supplement that promises very fast weight loss, she said.
If it looks or sounds too good to be true, then it usually is.