FDA Gives HCG Weight Loss Agents the Heave-Ho

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In this week’s “About Damn Time” news, the FDA and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said Wednesday that over-the-counter weight loss agents containing human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) are fraudulent and illegal.

You would think that subsisting on a very limited calorie diet (we’re talking 500 calories—a venti drink from Starbucks can have more than that) supplemented with a hormone approved only as an injectable drug for certain forms of female infertility would be kind of unappealing, but this stuff has been very popular over the past few years.

Said Elizabeth Miller,  acting director of the FDA’s fraud unit for OTC products, “There is no substantial evidence HCG increases weight loss beyond that resulting from the recommended caloric restriction.”

Miller also cited malnutrition risk, electrolyte imbalance, cardiac arrhythmias, and gallstone formation as concerns about such a low-calorie diet.

Companies sent warning letters by the FDA have 15 days to get it together and inform the agency what they’ve done to address the new ruling. You can read more about it here or visit the FDA online.

3 thoughts on “FDA Gives HCG Weight Loss Agents the Heave-Ho

    Ameena said:
    December 8, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    This is the first I’ve heard about this…sometimes the FDA baffles me. Okay, actually, the FDA baffles me a lot and this time is not exception.

    Jess responded:
    December 8, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    It does seem random sometimes, and it can be hard to keep track of what they’re looking at and why. I’m glad in this case that they finally made an official ruling on whether these supplements are okay or not—if nothing else, it’s one less miracle weight loss spam email in my inbox.

    Lauren said:
    December 9, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Funny, I did a GMA and Nightline about this and as I trashed it (months ago) Dr Oz came on semi-defending it. Gross and scary. Thanks for the update. Every so often the FDA does something, now they’ll go back to sleep.

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