In a health advisory issued Tuesday, federal officials recommend that consumers stop using OxyElite Pro dietary supplements while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigate a possible link between the fat burning supplement and 29 cases of non-viral hepatitis, two liver transplants, and one death.
The cases that prompted the health advisory were all in Hawaii. Twenty-four of the 29 cases of hepatitis said they used OxyElite within two months of falling ill. According to USA Today, health officials believe there may be cases in other states linked to the supplement, but they’ve remained unreported because health care professionals did not know what to look for. Now, federal officials are urging nationwide public health agencies, emergency rooms, and health care providers to be on the lookout for patients with liver problems who also report using a weight loss or muscle building supplement.
According to the company’s site, OxyElite Pro is the “number one selling fat loss formula in America.” The company claims that the product is backed by university studies that prove that it works to remove fat from the body by turning off fat receptors. It also says that OxyElite Pro’s “super thermogenic” formula kick-starts users’ metabolism, improves mental focus, and decreases appetite.
The Hawaii Dept. of Health requested a voluntary removal of OxyElite Pro from stores in the state and asked the public to stop using the supplement. Though the Dept. is investigating 29 related illnesses, at least 24 patients reported specifically using OxyElite Pro.
“Twenty-four cases reported using OxyElite Pro before their illness,” said Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist. “No other supplement or medication has been identified in common among more than two patients.”
Pieter Cohen, a dietary supplement expert with the Cambridge Health Alliance, told USA Today that dietary supplements often say one thing on the label, but are composed of completely different ingredients in reality — and those unlisted ingredients could cause serious health complications.
"Unfortunately, we see that not infrequently with supplements. There's one thing on the label and something else in the pills," Cohen said. "The idea that there is a natural weight-loss pill out there is hogwash. Either the pills don't work or they do work because they contain substances which are not natural and are pharmaceuticals.”
The FDA encourages health professionals and patients to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of OxyElite Pro to the FDA's MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program. If you or someone you know has information about an illness that may be linked to the use of fat burning supplements, visit fda.gov/MedWatch/report.htm or call 1-800-332-1088.