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Women playing Russian roulette with 'diet pills'

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Diet pills

Diet pills

PA Archive/Press Association Ima

Diet pills

IRISH women play Russian roulette with their health by buying illegal slimming pills on the internet - risking heart attacks, strokes and mental breakdown.

And the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra is being sold online - in the form of tablets made of chalk.

An Interpol conference on pharmaceutical crime in Dublin yesterday was told criminals are increasingly involved in the trafficking of fake medicines.

Pharmaceutical crime is now a multi-million euro business, and gardai and health experts say it is on the rise in Ireland.

Birth control pills made from rice flour are among of the other counterfeit medications bought online.

Rogue ingredients such as brick dust, cement, floor polish, cartridge ink, talcum powder, leaded paint and even a form of rat poison - strychnine - have all been discovered in certain products.

Many of the diet pills for sale online contain particular herbal stimulants and appetite suppressants.

These have been linked to a range of medical problems including bladder trouble and kidney malfunction.

The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) has warned women to be especially wary of slimming products that contain the substance Sibutramine - an oral anorexiant - which has been linked to heart attacks and strokes.

Although Sibutramine was banned from the worldwide market in 2010 because of safety concerns, it is still found in some illegal medications that promise varying forms of weight loss.

metabolism

John Lynch (inset), the HPRA's director of compliance, said some slimming products that contain Sibutramine do not list it on their packaging, meaning that even careful individuals could inadvertently start using it.

"It speeds up metabolism and burns off fat very fast," he told the Herald. "It also suppresses appetite so the person is eating less and burning energy more rapidly.

"These illegal products say that they're herbal and don't have any side-effects, but when we carried out tests quite a lot of the them contained Sibutramine. This was undeclared on the label."

hnews@herald.ie


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