HCG Called Illegal by FDA Exec

January 24, 2011

2 Min Read
HCG Called Illegal by FDA Exec

FDA says the popular weight-loss products containing HCG are illegal and fraudulent, according to a USA Today article. HCG products are promoted as homeopathic drops, pellets and sprays supposed to be used in combination with a diet of 500 calories a day. They are heavily sold online, but are also available in drugstores and at General Nutrition Centers (GNC).

HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, is a hormone made by the placenta during pregnancy.  Injections of the hormone are approved as a prescription treatment for infertility and other conditions. HCG has been used for weight loss since 1950s when a British physician had a theory that it could help people on a near-starvation diet not feel hungry, according to USA Today.

However, Elizabeth Miller, FDA's leader for the Internet and health fraud team said no evidence shows the oral over-the-counter products are effective for weight loss, according to USA Today. She said they may not be dangerous, but are not efficacious and are thus economic fraud." The lack of a serious health hazard has kept these products a lower priority for FDA action, according to the article.

Miller noted some HCG products claim to be homeopathic on labels, but are not recognized in the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia. Therefore, she said, these products are not recognized by FDA, so they are unapproved drugs and are illegal.

Andrew Shao of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), said HCG is "not considered a legal dietary ingredient and therefore cannot be sold as a dietary supplement," as quoted by USA Today. I am not aware of any scientific evidence that supports its use when taken orally." He added the HCG, as a peptide hormone, is broken down by the stomach and therefore ineffective.

The article also quotes Samuel Klein of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis who said randomized controlled trials show HCG is no better than placebo in achieving weight loss or reducing hunger.

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