AN 18-year-old girl who bought illegal diet pills online has had her colon removed after developing a life-threatening illness.
Despite having a body-mass index of just 22 -- which is medically considered an average weight -- the teenager bought the herbal slimming agent, Botanical Soft Gel, to "tone up" for a planned sun holiday with friends.
However, complications arose after just five days on the drug and she was admitted to Beaumont Hospital in Dublin suffering from lower abdominal pain and bloody diarrhoea.
She was diagnosed with acute ischaemic colitis, a condition associated with elderly patients which causes sudden swelling of the large intestine when there is a temporary loss of blood flow.
Faced with the prospect of organ failure, she underwent emergency surgery (colectomy) to have her colon removed.
The Irish Medicines Board carried out an investigation and discovered a high dose of sibutramine in the pills, a prescription medicine similar to amphetamines used to assist weight loss in obese adults.
However, the drug was banned in Ireland and globally in early 2010, due to the increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
The IMB told the Irish Independent it has been unable to identify the exact source of the product, but believed it came from outside the EU.
Between 2009 and 2011, there has been a 600pc increase in the number of these types of products detained by the IMB and Revenue Customs.
Where attempted supplies have been detained, cyber warning letters have been sent to the supplying internet sites.
"Because the manufacture of these products is unregulated and does not comply with EU and Irish standards, there is absolutely no way for consumers to know what is actually in the products or what other substances they may contain," an IMB statement said.
"There can be no guarantees as to the safety, quality or effectiveness of these products."