Dangerous mix of amphetamines, tranquilizers and antidepressants found in some pills, researchers say,,
MONDAY, April 5 (HealthDay News) -- Although marketed on the Internet as "natural," the popular weight loss supplements known as Brazilian diet pills contain potentially addictive ingredients, researchers say.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned consumers in 2006 of dangers associated with the diet pills, but they remain popular and easy to order online, the researchers say.
"What we have seen and what the FDA has found is that, unfortunately, there are dozens of products that are sold as dietary supplements that are contaminated with pharmaceutical compounds," said lead researcher Dr. Pieter Cohen, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School.
People already prone to addiction can become dependent on these nonprescription drugs, and stricter oversight by the FDA is needed, Cohen said.
"When you are purchasing these products, you have no idea what you are getting," he noted. "There is a very lax regulatory framework that surrounds dietary supplements. Basically, all dietary supplements are assumed to be harmless until the FDA demonstrates that they are dangerous."
In the article, published in the April 5 online edition of the American Journal on Addictions, Cohen and a colleague, Benjamin Smith, tell the story of a 29-year-old who needed psychiatric care to kick her addiction to Brazilian diet pills.
The problem wasn't with the herbal content; rather, it was a mixture of amphetamines, tranquilizers and antidepressants, the researchers say.
Although sometimes unemployed and homeless, the woman increased her dose over four years, eventually taking four pills a day at a daily cost of $160, Cohen noted.
"Even though she couldn't afford the pills, she borrowed money so she wouldn't have to stop," Cohen said.
When she tried to wean
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