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Health

Fake slimming pills web sales warning

Beware of buying fake slimming pills over the net when you want to shed the extra pounds piled on over Christmas, warns Judy Hobson

The unsrupulous people offering you a quick fix for your weight problem are not interested in helping you to get rid of the extra pounds of fat from your body, but have their eyes firmly fixed on removing the pounds from your bank account.

Between 2013 and 2014, the government’s health watchdog, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), seized 425,663 fake or unlicensed slimming pills, and between 2015 and October 2016 it had seized 544,689 and was still counting.

It has also closed down more than 5000 websites operating illegally and removed 320 videos from YouTube which criminals are also starting to use to sell their illegal wares.

Selling dodgy diet pills and unlicensed medicines via the internet is a lucrative business. In a crackdown on the illegal trade co-ordinated by Interpol and involving 115 countries last summer, £15.8m-worth of counterfeit and unlicensed medicines and devices were seized in the UK alone. The haul, the biggest recorded so far in this country, included huge quantities of harmful slimming pills that can cause heart attacks, strokes and even death.

According to Alastair Jeffrey, head of enforcement at the MHRA, the haul was almost twice the size of that seized the previous year, illustrating that the internet sale of these fake pills and products is on the increase.

Sometimes sites use celebrity images, without permission, to endorse dodgy slimming pills, as Laura Hamilton, the host of Channel Four’s A Place In The Sun, discovered to her disgust.

She says: “The people who do this are ruthless con-artists. They used my image without telling me and made it look as if I was endorsing their product. I’ve worked hard and followed a strict diet to get into shape. These kinds of pills can be deadly and I would never endorse them.”

The attraction of fake slimming pills offered on the internet seems to be their promise of providing a shortcut to getting slim. At best their ingredients are useless. At worst they can make you seriously ill.

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