HSA alerts Thailand on dangerous diet-pill cocktail

THAILAND - The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday warned members of the public not to use cocktail formulas of diet pills, as some might contain sibutramine, whose side-effects can be lethal and whose usage must be strictly supervised by a doctor.

FDA secretary-general Dr Boonchai Somboonsook said the agency stopped approving formulas containing sibutramine in 2010.

He said the FDA had been told by Singapore's Health Sciences Authority (HSA) that customs officials there had found a female passenger carrying a cocktail formula of diet pills dispensed by a private hospital in Thailand. The HSA's initial analysis found that the formula contained various drugs including sibutramine - in an amount that exceeded the recommended daily dosage - along with bisacodyl, chlorpheniramine, fluoxetine, thyroxine, frusemide and hydrochlorothiazide. The formula was sold online.

The FDA investigated the case and asked the only distributor of sibutramine in Thailand to recall the sibutramine-containing pills and stop distributing all medicine formulas with sibutramine as an ingredient.

Boonchai said a 2010 clinical test had found that sibutramine increased the risk of myocardial ischemia and cerebrovascular disease by 16 per cent, while also often causing high blood pressure, headache and insomnia.

Other ingredients in this cocktail formula, if used without a doctor's supervision, could also cause serious side effects, Boonchai said. The FDA thus advised medical facilities and professionals to stop dispensing these medicines.

People wishing to lose weight were urged to seek an alternative method under a physician's supervision. Consumers encountering adverse effects should report the case to the FDA via telephone at (02) 590 7261 or the 1556 hotline, or file complaints in person, preferably bringing a medicine sample with them.