FDA calls popular weight-loss product fraudulent and illegal - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

FDA calls popular weight-loss product fraudulent and illegal

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Food and Drug Administration officials called HCG weight-loss products fraudulent and illegal.

Promoted heavily on the Internet, HCG weight-loss products promise dramatic results. The product claims to be homeopathic and can be found as drops, pellets and sprays on the Web, in drugstores and at General Nutrition Centers.

Many of the labels on the product indicate it contains HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone made by the placenta during pregnancy. The weight-loss product is supposed to be used while on a very low-calorie diet of 500 calories a day.

However, leader of the FDA's Internet and health fraud team, Elizabeth Miller, says there is no evidence the products are effective for weight loss. She also says while they're not dangerous, they are "economic fraud."

The FDA could subject the product to enforcement at any time, even though it poses no serious direct or indirect health hazard.

Miller says though HCG products claim to be homeopathic, they are not, "...it is not recognized in the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia," Miller says. Therefore, these products "are not recognized by the FDA as homeopathic drugs, so they are unapproved drugs and are illegal," she says.

A theory from the 1950's claimed the product could help people on a near-starvation diet not feel hungry. That theory has since been debunked.

President of HCG Platinum, Kevin Wright, says his company stopped making HCG products two months ago. However, he says, some HCG bottles are still on store shelves, selling for about $70 an ounce.

Many other companies are still selling HCG products, and there are weight-loss clinics that use the prescribed injectable hormone, he says.

FDA's Miller also has concerns about injectable versions of HCG for weight loss. The drug is not approved for weight loss, she says. Dieters getting injections of the hormone from people who aren't licensed to do so run the risk of getting infections and can't be sure what product they're getting.

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