The AP reports that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warning letters to seven companies, ordering them “to stop selling an unproven weight loss remedy that uses protein from the human placenta.” The FDA has approved human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), produced by the placenta and found in the urine of pregnant women, for certain infertility treatments, but says there is no evidence that it is effective for weight reduction.
Sold as drops, pellets or sprays, HCG is often marketed as boosting low-calorie dieters’ weight loss, but Elizabeth Miller, of FDA’s division for non-prescription drugs and health fraud, said that “the data simply does not support this — any loss is from severe calorie restriction. Not from the HCG.”
It also notes that hCG is not on the FDA’s list of approved ingredients for homeopathic remedies.
On its website, ABC News reported that the FDA’s Miller says that it’s unclear how much hCG is contained in the homeopathic products — some suggest only trace amounts — or whether the products truly contain hCG at all, even if so labeled, adding that “whether they contain it or not, they are illegal and unapproved drugs.”
She notes that there are no studies showing that any hCG-bearing product has any additional weight-loss benefit when supplementing a low-calorie diet.
The segment also notes FDA warnings that a very low-calorie diet “can cause gallstone formation, electrolyte imbalances, and even heart arrhythmia, regardless of whether the hormone is also taken.”
The FDA notes that many of the products “claim to ‘reset your metabolism,’ change ‘abnormal eating patterns” and shave 20 to 30 pounds in 30 to 40 days, USA Today reports.
The agency also says that it doesn’t know how many consumers are using the products, in part because sales are mostly through the internet and thus hard to track.
Reuters notes that the Federal Trade Commission joined the letters, lists the seven companies, and notes that they have 15 days to notify the FDA of the corrective actions they will take.
Here are my previous posts on the topic: