Information Update - Important Reminder About Weight-Loss Health Products

Jan 03, 2013, 11:30 ET from Health Canada

OTTAWA, Jan. 3, 2013 /CNW/ - As the rate of obesity has increased in Canada, so has the market for weight-loss products. While authorized health products for weight loss may provide benefits when used properly as part of a weight management program, the use of unauthorized health products may pose serious risks to your health.

The vast majority of natural health products (NHPs) have a history of safe use and are responsibly marketed. But some products found on the Canadian market have been represented as NHPs and have been found to contain hidden, potentially dangerous ingredients such as prescription medications that are not identified on the label.

As a result, Health Canada has identified and taken action on a number of unauthorized health products promoted for weight loss. Many of these products have been found to contain the undeclared pharmaceutical ingredient sibutramine or similar substances.

Sibutramine was previously used to treat obesity but is no longer authorized for sale in Canada because of its association with an increased risk of cardiovascular side-effects such as heart attack and stroke. In addition to heart attack and stroke, side-effects associated with sibutramine include increased blood pressure and heart rate, dry mouth, difficulty sleeping and constipation.

Health Canada would like to remind Canadians who are concerned about their weight to talk to their health care practitioner about the best way to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. Moreover, if you are considering the use of health products for weight loss, discuss the potential benefits and risks with your health care practitioner.

Consulting your health care practitioner is especially important if you are under the age of 18, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. It's also important if you have any medical conditions or serious diseases, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, or any other serious chronic conditions.

If new products are found to contain undeclared prescription drugs or other potentially dangerous substances, Health Canada will add them to its list of affected products. Canadians are advised to monitor this list for updates.

To report suspected adverse reaction to these or other health products, please contact the Canada Vigilance Program of Health Canada toll-free at 1-866-234-2345, or complete a Canada Vigilance Reporting Form and send to us using one of these methods:

  • Fax: 1-866-678-6789
  • Internet:
  • Mail: Canada Vigilance Program
    Marketed Health Products Directorate
    Ottawa, ON, Address Locator 0701E
    K1A 0K9

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SOURCE Health Canada