There are many products and fad diets out there claiming to help you battle the bulge fast, but one diet pill ingredient in particular has caught the attention of both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission.
Seven warning letters went out to companies behind the marketing of over-the-counter HCG products claiming to be “homeopathic” and promote weight loss.
Approved to treat female infertility, Human Chorionic Gonadotrop (HCG) is a prescribed injectible that comes from the hormone produced by the human placenta during pregnancy. HCG in the form of oral drops, pellets, and sprays are being sold on the internet and at retail locations, though many have not been approved for weight loss or even proven safe.
In addition, most of the HCG products on the market come with directions to take the drug while maintaining an extremely low calorie diet, some as low as just 500 calories.
“These HCG products marketed over-the-counter are unproven to help with weight loss and are potentially dangerous even if taken as directed,” said Ilisa Bernstein, director of the Office of Compliance in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
Diets extremely low in calories have the potential to put those who follow them at risk for a host of side effects like gallstone formation, electrolyte imbalance, and heart arrhythmias, according to the American Heart Association.
“Deceptive advertising about weight loss products is one of the most prevalent types of fraud,” said David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Any advertiser who makes health claims about a product is required by federal law to back them up with competent and reliable scientific evidence, so consumers have the accurate information they need to make good decisions.”
The companies served were given 15 days to prove to the FDA that they had began working to correct the violations. Refusing to do so could lead to injunction, criminal prosecution and seizure of their company. If you or someone you know experiences any side effects related to taking products containing HCG they should report the incident immediately to the FDA’s MedWatch by calling 800-FDA-1088, or online atwww.fda.gov/medwatch/report.htm.