WASHINGTON -- A Mexican diet pill that has been implicated in several deaths should be 'thrown down the drain' because it is 'potentially lethal,' Food and Drug Commissioner Frank Young said today.
Young described the diet pill Redotex on ABC's 'Good Morning America' program as a 'combination of a number of prescription drugs all put together in one compound' that could cause diarrhea and affect a person's thyroid and heart rate 'and all of these things mixed together are a dangerous and potentially lethal concoction.'
The government issued an import alert Monday asking authorities to prevent passage of the drug across the U.S.-Mexican border, whether in bulk shipments or with individuals.
A statement issued by the FDA said the U.S., Mexican and Texas state governments were cooperating to halt unsupervised use of the drug to peel off weight.
Mexican authorities have closed clinics in Nuevo Laredo, across the Rio Grande from Laredo, Texas, that had been treating obese patients with Redotex, which the FDA's Dallas office said appeared to contain a hormone to speed metabolism, two stimulants, a laxative and the tranquilizer Diazepam.
Young said his agency is investigating four deaths and added 'some individuals have had some substantial potential problems with memory and psychological makeup that have required care by a psychiatrist.'
The commissioner said 'thousands of people are bringing' the drug into the United States. 'It's a classical health fraud.'
The pills 'should be thrown down the drain and just not used,' Young said.
Gwen Pace of the Dallas FDA office said Tuesday, 'The FDA Center for Drugs and Biologics (in Washington) found the combination to be an irrational one that can cause serious and potentially fatal adverse reactions, including alteration of metabolic rates, increased heart rates, the lowering or increasing of blood pressure, loss of body electrolytes, and confusion and hallucinations.'
Some of the clinics had mixed Redotex with other drugs, increasing the danger to patients using them without medical supervision, the statement said.
Pace said several deaths and psychiatric conditions were being reviewed to see if Redotex or the Redotex combinations were responsible.
'A warning has been issued on television and an efort is being made to have Redotex reformulated,' the statement said.
Thousands of overweight U.S citizens have flocked to the border in recent months to obtain the diet pills through the Mexican clinics.