Slimming pills bought online left woman with liver damage
A 35-year-old woman who took a food supplement she purchased on the internet to boost her energy and help lose weight ended up with severe liver damage and was told she needed a transplant.
The case was highlighted yesterday by the Irish Medicines Board, which seized a haul of nearly €300,000 worth of illegally imported drugs in just one week.
The 90,666 tablets, 1,800 capsules and 8,155 liquids included weight loss products, sedatives, painkillers, analboic steroids and male impotence medicines.
The drugs watchdog highlighted one anonymous case, involving Mary (not her real name), a 35-year-old middle management executive and mother, who took the produce Oxy Elite, which the Food Safety Authority issued a public alert about last November because of the risks it posed to the liver.
She took it on the recommendation of a friend who was a fitness instructor and who believed it was natural.
"The woman sourced it online from a seemingly legitimate website and, having completed some research, believed it would boost her energy and help her lose some weight. She took it for a number of months in the past year.
"When she visited her doctor she was treated for viral hepatitis and went on to develop severe jaundice. She ended up in a high dependency liver unit and diagnosed with liver failure. She needed a liver transplant and had a 10pc chance of survival.
"Mary spent four to five weeks in this unit on a high dose of antibiotics where it was discovered that the natural product she consumed had contributed to this reaction in her body.
"After a very long road to recovery with implications for her health, Mary's liver recovered sufficiently, which is considered rare. She is almost back to full health," the IMB spokewoman revealed.
John Lynch, the IMB's director of compliance, said: "Our combined goal is to stem the flow of medicines from illegal pharmacy websites, which present themselves to the general public as perfectly legitimate, but, in reality are not."
He explained that the mail order of prescription-only medicines, including internet supply, is prohibited in Ireland.
"Some of these medicines have been shown to contain too little or too much of the active ingredient while others contain the wrong active ingredient."