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Warning over internet weight loss meds

AAP logoAAP 30/08/2016 Kaitlyn Offer

Harmful drugs - including one withdrawn almost 20 years ago over a cancer risk - have been found in weight loss products bought from overseas websites and sent to Australia.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration is warning of the dangers of buying weight loss medicines online, particularly from unknown overseas websites.

Many sites offering "herbal" and "drug-free" products in fact had hidden ingredients that could be harmful, TGA's principal medical adviser Dr Tim Greenaway said.

Products seized and tested by the TGA laboratories found some contained contaminants including pharmaceutical substances not listed on labels.

The substances found included phenolphthalein, which was withdrawn from sale in many markets in the late 1990s due to concerns over an increased risk of cancer with long-term use.

The TGA also found some products had sibutramine - a prescription-only substance in Australia that was withdrawn from world markets in 2010 due to increased risk of cardiac events like heart attacks and stroke.

Dr Greenaway urged people to use caution when buying weight-loss medicine online and to contact their pharmacist or GP if they have concerns about products they have taken.

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