I am constantly asked by users to comment on “new” over-the-counter slimming pills or slimming diets which are launched with monotonous regularity at a rate of about 1 or 2 a week. The problem with all these “magic” diets, pills and potions that promise you instant and exaggerated weight loss, is that most of them cost a lot of money but don’t work and many of them can have serious side-effects. But the public in South Africa, like their counterparts all over the world, are frantic to lose weight and will grasp at any chance to shed unwelcome kilograms, even if they know that a product can potentially be harmful.
Investigations by the MCC revealed that the original Simply Slim which had been promoted as a "safe, herbal, 100% natural product without side-effects" actually contained a chemical called sibutramine in doses that far exceeded the recommended levels of this drug which is used in registered pharmacological slimming pills such as Reductil and Ciplatrim. The original Simply Slim contained nearly double the dose of sibutramine that is used in Reductil or Ciplatrim.
In addition the presence of sibutramine in the product was not disclosed on the label and there were no warnings that the product should only be used under the strict supervision of a medical doctor. Reductil and Ciplatrim are classified as Schedule 5 drugs which may only be prescribed by a medical doctor with the proviso that anyone with heart, blood pressure or circulatory problems should not use medications containing sibutramine.
A recent report suggested that the EU is considering the ban of all medications that contain sibutramine (Richwine, 2010), because the SCOUT Study found that 11.4% of subjects receiving sibutramine had died, or had a heart attack, a stroke or cardiac arrest compared to 10% of the subjects who were given placebo treatment.