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Popular Weight-Loss Supplement Recalled

On Friday, May 1, the FDA issued a press release warning consumers to stop using Hydroxycut products, which have been associated with serious liver injuries. The manufacturer, Iovate Health Sciences Inc. has recalled Hydroxycut (also marketed under the MuscleTech brand name) from the market. The FDA reports that over 9 million units of Hydroxycut products were sold in 2008.

The recalls come on the heels of 23 reports of injury, including one death, over the past seven years. Those injuries include liver failure, jaundice, seizures, rhabdomyolysis (muscle damage), and cardiovascular problems. Symptoms may include brown urine, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, stomach pain, itching, and light-colored stools.

The recall affects:

• Hydroxycut Regular Rapid Release Caplets
• Hydroxycut Caffeine-Free Rapid Release Caplets
• Hydroxycut Hardcore Liquid Caplets
• Hydroxycut Max Liquid Caplets
• Hydroxycut Regular Drink Packets
• Hydroxycut Caffeine-Free Drink Packets
• Hydroxycut Hardcore Drink Packets (Ignition Stix)
• Hydroxycut Max Drink Packets
• Hydroxycut Liquid Shots
• Hydroxycut Hardcore RTDs (Ready-to-Drink)
• Hydroxycut Max Aqua Shed
• Hydroxycut 24
• Hydroxycut Carb Control
• Hydroxycut Natural

While 23 potential injuries out of millions of units sold (if not more) may not sound significant, this notice by the FDA could signal the opening of the floodgates—now doctors should know to ask their patients about whether they took Hydroxycut products. Likewise, patients who hear about Hydroxycut are more likely to tell their doctors that they take the supplements. The FDA (and undoubtedly Iovate) is continuing to investigate.

Weight-loss is a serious business in our oftentimes fast-food culture. The manufacturers of Hydroxycut clearly put some thought into marketing and naming their products to appeal to those wanting an energetic, fun, and fast-paced lifestyle—‘Hardcore,’ ‘Max,’ ‘Ignition Stix’ and ‘Liquid Shots.’ One wonders if this type of product is actually condoned by physicians, or if it is simply an opportunity to take advantage of a society that wants to solve its problems with pills. Regardless, time will tell about whether the products are dangerous.