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Case Reports
, 106 (13), 218-22

Chinese Slimming Capsules Containing Sibutramine Sold Over the Internet: A Case Series

Case Reports

Chinese Slimming Capsules Containing Sibutramine Sold Over the Internet: A Case Series

Dieter Müller et al. Dtsch Arztebl Int.


Background: In recent years, the market for dietary supplements has grown. International products are readily available for purchase over the Internet. We report 17 cases of poisoning with a single product, said to be of purely herbal origin, that was bought over the Internet. A complete declaration of the ingredients was not available.

Methods: We performed a retrospective study of cases of poisoning documented by the Göttingen and Freiburg poison information centers from 2005 to 2008. In 4 cases, we were able to perform toxicological analyses of leftover capsules and urine samples.

Results: The manifestations of poisoning in the 17 documented cases included malaise, tachycardia, headache, agitation, arterial hypertension, nausea, vomiting, dyspnea, insomnia, left-sided chest pressure, elevated temperature, and, in two cases, psychosis after the substance was combined with atomoxetine and methylphenidate and with citalopram, olanzapine, and chlorprothixene. The frequency of cases rose markedly in the last year of the study. The toxicological analyses of all samples studied revealed sibutramine. The dose in each capsule was nearly twice the maximum daily dose sibutramine in the medication containing this substance that is licensed for use in Germany.

Conclusions: Products available without a prescription whose contents are claimed to be purely herbal may nonetheless contain synthetic substances in concentrations far above the therapeutic range and may be a cause of poisoning. When taking the history of a patient possibly suffering from an intoxication, the physician should ask specifically about drugs, dietary supplements, and so-called lifestyle products that were obtained without a prescription. It would be desirable for the contents of all such products to be declared, as required by law, so that their suitability for the market can be checked.

Keywords: Internet; dietary supplements; pharmaceutical industry; sibutramine; weight-reducing drugs.


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