Fears Over Selective Control of Slimming Pills

      October 15, 2010 12:31

      There are concerns that a recent ban of some slimming pills and appetite suppressants could drive consumers to more dangerous substances.

      The Korea Food and Drug Administration on Thursday halted sales and instituted a voluntary recall of 60 appetite suppressants containing Sibutramine including Reductil that can adversely affect the cardiovascular system. The decision comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Saturday recommended stopping sales of Reductil, a weight loss pill containing Sibutramine, following a similar measure by the European Medicines Agency.

      The slimming pill market in Korea is roughly divided into three groups -- non-psychotropic appetite suppressant Sibutramine, psychotropic appetite suppressants, and Orlistat, which prevents the absorption of fats from the diet. Sibutramine took up more than half of the entire sales of slimming pills here last year with W50.9 billion (US$1=W1,111) out of W94 billion.

      Experts warn that the disappearance of Sibutramine from the market could drive many people who rely on slimming pills to opt for psychotropic appetite suppressants instead, since Orlistat is unsuitable to treat the type of obesity usually found in Korea.

      Narcotic appetite suppressants can lead to dependency and has side effects such as depression and insomnia. Korea already ranks second or third in the world in terms of usage of psychotropic appetite suppressants, and the International Narcotics Control Board advised Korea to be cautious in 2005.

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