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Important Reminder about Weight-loss Health Products

Starting date:
January 19, 2012
Type of communication:
Information Update
Natural health products
Source of recall:
Health Canada
Identification number:

As the rate of obesity has increased in Canada, so has the market for weight-loss products. While authorized health products for weight loss may provide benefits when used properly as part of a weight management program, the use of unauthorized health products may pose serious risks to your health.

The vast majority of natural health products (NHPs) have a history of safe use and are responsibly marketed. But some products in Canada are marketed or represented as NHPs have been adulterated. Products that are adulterated contain substances that may not be declared on the label, including prescription medications or other potentially dangerous ingredients.

As a result, Health Canada has identified and taken action on a number of unauthorized health products list promoted for weight loss. A number of these products have been found to contain the undeclared pharmaceutical ingredient sibutramine and/or an undeclared pharmaceutical ingredient similar to sibutramine.

Sibutramine was previously used to treat obesity but is no longer authorized for sale in Canada because of its association with an increased risk of cardiovascular side effects such as heart attack and stroke. In addition to heart attack and stroke, side-effects associated with sibutramine include increased blood pressure and heart rate, dry mouth, difficulty sleeping and constipation.

Health Canada would also like to remind Canadians who are concerned about their weight, to talk to their health care practitioner about the best way to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. Moreover, if you are considering the Safe Use of Health Products for Weight Loss, discuss the potential risks with your health care practitioner.

Consulting your health care professional is especially important if you are under the age of 18, or if you are pregnant/lactating, or if you have any medical conditions or serious diseases, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, or any other serious chronic conditions.

If new products that are adulterated with sibutramine are identified, Health Canada will add them to its list of affected products. Canadians are advised to monitor this list of affected products for any possible updates.

To report suspected adverse reaction to these or other health products, please contact the Canada Vigilance Program of Health Canada toll-free at 1-866-234-2345, or complete a Canada Vigilance Reporting Form and send to us using one of these methods:

  • Fax: 1-866-678-6789
  • Internet: MedEffect Canada
  • Mail: Canada Vigilance Program
    Marketed Health Products Directorate
    Ottawa, ON, Address Locator 0701E
    K1A 0K9

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