Prescription drugs are not the only drugs that can be marketed despite their increased risks of harm to anyone who uses them. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Jan. 22 urged consumers not to use two diet concoctions because they contained substances that have been linked to increased risks of injury.
One of those FDA warnings pertained to a weight-loss drug known as the Dream Body Slimming Capsule. The other warning was centered on the use of Magic Slim, another product promoted and sold for weight loss and sold on various websites and in some retail stores.
FDA laboratory analyses showed that each drug contained sibutramine.
"Sibutramine is a controlled substance that was removed from the market in October 2010 for safety reasons," the FDA explained in its safety alerts. "The product poses a threat to consumers because sibutramine is known to substantially increase blood pressure and/or pulse rate in some patients and may present a significant risk for patients with a history of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, or stroke. These products may also interact, in life-threatening ways, with other medications a consumer may be taking."
The FDA cited not one but two good reasons to avoid Magic Slim. The agency's lab work showed that it also contained phenolphthalein.
"Phenolphthalein," according to the FDA, "was an ingredient in some over-the-counter laxative products until 1999, when FDA reclassified the ingredient as 'not generally recognized as safe and effective' after studies indicated that it presented a potential cancer-causing (carcinogenic) risk."
So what should one do with these diet potions?
The FDA recommends the following: "Consumers should stop using this product immediately and throw it away. Consumers who have experienced any negative side effects should consult a health care professional as soon as possible."
When the use of prescription drugs lead to patient injury, the patient's situation is not so cut and dried. A diabetic cannot simply throw away a diabetes drug unilaterally. A prescription drug is not purely a consumer choice like a weight-loss drug is. And FDA lab analyses do not usually get a prescription drug label updated or the marketing of a drug restricted; anecdotal evidence of human suffering can make those things happen.
Here is something one can count on. There are attorneys with specialized expertise in handling pharmaceutical injury cases, and those are the types of attorneys that a victim of a bad drug can use in his or her corner. Reich & Binstock has such attorneys, and they offer free consultations.
Suffering in silence is not necessarily the victim's dead-end street. There may be legal avenues that can lead to compensation.