August 14, 2002
WASHINGTON--The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) alerted the public Aug. 13 about Chinese weight-loss products that are being promoted as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) but contain the pharmaceutical fenfluramine, which has been banned in the United States. Until 1997, fenfluramine was prescribed with another drug called phentermine in a combination known as phen-fen, a popular but dangerous weight-loss drug.
FDA released this alert after the Japanese government reported some of its country's citizen's had become ill or died after taking these two diet aids, known as Chasu (Jianfei) and Chasu Gempi, most likely due to the fenfluramine in the products. The exact number of people who have been affected by these products is currently unknown, according to an FDA spokesperson. "FDA is taking this action as a precautionary measure to help assure that people are not exposed to these potentially dangerous products," said Lester Crawford, FDA's deputy commissioner.
The agency reported that the manufacturer of the products is unknown. Reportedly, the products most likely entered the country via individuals and not importers, and the "supplements" are probably being sold in small areas with large Asian populations.
The agency spokesperson stated FDA does not know if the products have made their way into the U.S.; to date, no adverse events have been reported in this country from taking these products. FDA (www.fda.gov) is also uncertain if these products are related to Slim 10, another Chinese weight-loss "supplement" that contained phenfluramine and made international headlines after it was banned by various Asian countries for causing health problems.
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