pills - Haaretz - January 31 2011
Weight loss pills Photo by Haaretz
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The Health Ministry is investigating reports of Israelis who suffered serious side effects after having used counterfeit weight loss pills.

A woman in her 20s was hospitalized at the Sha'ar Menashe psychiatric hospital suffering from a severe psychotic outburst having taken Slim Xtreme weight loss pills. The woman was treated with medication but the doctors have not been able to stabilize her mental state.

Two and a half months ago, a 25-year-old woman was reportedly hospitalized at Beilinson Hospital, suffering a psychotic episode. She is believed to have taken the same type of diet pill.

During the summer, the Health Ministry received two reports of medical complications which resulted in persons using the pills. The cases involved a woman in her 60s who suffered complications with her pace maker and liver problems, and a 16-year-old who suffered kidney problems.

The Health Ministry also recently received reports of women in Druze villages in the north who died of heart attacks after taking Seven Slim, a different type of weight loss pill. So far these reports have not been confirmed by hospitals.

A unit specializing in pharmaceutical crime at the Health Ministry has acquired samples of the pills in question in recent weeks. Seven Slim pills were confiscated in September at the Allenby Bridge crossing with Jordan, and are believed to have also seeped in from Lebanon.

In the case of the Slim Xtreme, the samples were confiscated during raids in Bat Yam and Hadera, and authorities suspect that these were smuggled into the country by an Israeli arriving from the United States, and then marketed in Israel via the internet.

Authorities have stepped up efforts to locate and confiscate more of the counterfeit weight loss pills being smuggled through the mail.

The serious side-effects are attributed by sources at the Health Ministry to a particularly high concentration of the chemical Sibutramin. As much as 25 milligrams of the active material was found in Seven Slim pills. It was found in combination with Sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra.

In October the approved Teva weight loss drug Reductil was ordered off the shelves after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration determined that Sibutramin increases the risk of developing heart and artery disease.

Slim Xtreme is now being tested in laboratories, and Israeli authorities asked their American counterparts to stop the marketing of the pills on the internet in the United States.

Last month, U.S. authorities issued a health warning for a number of weight loss pills being marketed on the internet such as Beauty, Slim 30 and Solo Slim - none of which are marketed in Israel.