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Finding pharmaceuticals in natural products
Some natural products are not so "natural" after all. The FDA has warned consumers for several months that a number of weight-loss products contain undeclared pharmaceutical ingredients. The newest products to join the list are Herbal Xenicol which contains cetilistat (a drug similar to orlistat that is not approved in this country), as well as Slimbionic and Xsvelten, both of which contain sibutramine (the prescription medication also known as Meridia®). The FDA's list of over-the-counter weight-loss agents that contain undeclared active pharmaceutical ingredients now includes 72 products. Some of the other undeclared pharmaceutical ingredients found in these products include fenproporex (an amphetamine derivative no longer available in this country), fluoxetine (Prozac®, an SSRI), furosemide (Lasix®, a loop diuretic), and even phenytoin (Dilantin®, an antiseizure medication). The FDA is seeking recalls on many of these products; however, some are available only on-line and previous recall efforts have proved inadequate.
In a related story, the FDA has announced a voluntary recall of Zencore Plus, the heavily marketed product for "natural male enhancement," which has been found to contain benzamidenafil, a new PDE5 inhibitor not yet available in this country. Benzamidenafil is similar in action to sildenafil (Viagra®) and tadalafil (Cialis®). PDE5 inhibitors are noted to have a drug interaction with nitrates, leading to potential life-threatening risk of sudden and profound drop in blood pressure. Zencore Plus is distributed by Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals in Norcross, GA, and is widely sold in health food stores, by mail order, and by Internet sales.