China's drug watchdog issues risk warning for diet pill

15:34, March 05, 2011      

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China's State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) issued a statement on Friday calling for public awareness over the side effects of a weight-reducing drug.

The statement reminded doctors, drug manufacturers and consumers of the safety issues concerning the use of Orlistat. The drug has been the subject of over 120 reports by the end of last year for side effects such as constipation, abdominal pain and skin rashes.

The SFDA had ordered the drug's manufacturers to incorporate an updated version of the warning in its instructions last September.

The statement confirmed that the overall risk/benefit assessment remains positive. Consumers should read instructions carefully and consult doctors in case of severe side effects, the statement said.

Orlistat was approved as an OTC weight loss medication for people with BMI (Body Mass Indexes) over 24. The statement suggested that people with lower BMI should not use it.

The U.S. FDA issued a severe liver injury warning last May, though a cause and effect relationship remains undetermined between reported injuries and the use of Orlistat.

Diet pills containing Sibutramine, which was reported to cause severe cardiovascular diseases, were banned through two previous announcements from the SFDA starting last October.

The overweight population in China is estimated to be over 300 million people in recent reports.

Source: Xinhua
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