WASHINGTON – Government health officials warned dieters and body builders Friday to immediately stop using Hydroxycut, a widely sold supplement linked to cases of serious liver damage and at least one death.
The Food and Drug Administration said the company that makes the dietary supplement has agreed to recall 14 Hydroxycut products. Available in grocery stores and pharmacies, Hydroxycut is advertised as made from natural ingredients. At least 9 million packages were sold last year, the FDA said.
Dr. Linda Katz of the FDA’s food and nutrition division said the agency has received 23 reports of liver problems, including the death of a 19-year-old male living in the Southwest. The teenager died in 2007, and the death was reported to the FDA this March.
Other patients experienced symptoms ranging from jaundice, or yellowing of the skin, to liver failure. One received a transplant and another was placed on a list to await a new liver. The patients were otherwise healthy and their symptoms began after they started using Hydroxycut.
Iovate Health Sciences, which makes the diet pills, said it agreed to the recall out of “an abundance of caution.” The company is based in Canada and its U.S. distributor is headquartered near Buffalo, N.Y.
“While this is a small number of reports relative to the many millions of people who have used Hydroxycut products over the years, out of an abundance of caution and because consumer safety is our top priority, we are voluntarily recalling these Hydroxycut-branded products,” the company said in a statement on its Web site. Consumers can get a refund by returning the pills to the store where they purchased them, the company said.
Not part of the recall are Hydroxycut Cleanse and Hoodia products.
The recalled products contain several ingredients, among them herbal extracts, although the FDA said it’s not sure which ingredients or dosages could be causing the problems.
Unused products should be returned to where they were purchased.