MORE than 250,000 imported doses of weight-loss pills and slimming drinks containing a potentially life-threatening ingredient have been seized by gardai and customs.
The diet products contain the banned substance sibutramine, which is linked to increased risk of stroke and heart attack.
The haul, which is revealed in the 2011 annual report of the Irish Medicines Board, involved 251,883 doses destined for personal use or to be sold in shops.
Sibutramine was withdrawn as a medicine in Ireland and the entire EU in early 2010. It can cause high blood pressure, seizures, abnormally rapid heart rate, palpitations, heart attack or stroke. It can also interact with other medications and increase patients' risk of unexpected bad side-effects .
It is unclear if sibutramine is safe for pregnant women and those who are breast-feeding, or for children under 16.
Several websites continue to market weight-loss products or dietary supplements that contain sibutramine to unsuspecting customers.
Most of the 762,641 illegally imported products seized last year came from China and India and also included pills to treat male impotence, anxiety and muscle enhancers.
Slimming products that contained sibutramine included Botanical Slimming Natural Soft Gel and Li Da Capsules as well as Slimforte Slimming Coffee.