With just one prescription weight loss medication available on the UK market, it comes as no surprise that numerous fake options have appeared over the years. These illegal slimming pills have been proven time and time again to be very dangerous and should definitely be avoided – this is true whether you view the issue from the legal side, or just with a justified concern for your own health.

What’s on this page?

While shady salesmen might provide you with a lot of excuses on why the medications they offer cannot be obtained the legal way, the bottom line is that these medicines simply failed to adhere to the strict safety and efficacy guidelines set out by the MHRA. In fact, and as has been mentioned, as of writing this article, there is just one pharmaceutical compound that has been approved for the management of obesity, namely, Orlistat, also marketed under brand names Xenical and Alli.

Buying Orlistat vs buying illegal diet pills

However, even this medication can be legally obtained only with a valid prescription issued by a certified medical professional. The patient will be required to undergo consultations with a doctor and checking the exact body mass index (BMI). Orlistat will be prescribed only to those which are suitable for it, meaning those who are not as likely to get affected by the side effects, and those who have a BMI higher than a set limit.

On the other hand, illegal diet pills can usually be obtained from a number of websites which don’t have the proper certificates and permissions to sell medications. If any website offers you to buy slimming pills without consultations with a doctor, it should be a red flag – only legal weight loss pills in the UK can be obtained only with a doctor’s prescription, so all other should be considered illegal, dangerous and should thus be avoided.

What makes these medications dangerous?

Illegal weight loss drugs are first and foremost unregulated, meaning that there are zero guarantees that they meet any of the criteria set out by the MHRA. This makes them very dangerous as they can potentially pose a significant risk to the health and wellbeing of an individual. Some of the most direct risks include:

  • Exposure to banned or unsafe substances
  • Experiencing severe and potentially life-threatening side effects
  • Unforeseeable interactions with other medications
  • Lack of efficiency

Lack of efficacy of illegal weight loss medications

While the websites promoting illegal diet pills often try to justify their business by coming up with sometimes appealing, sometimes straight out outrageous claims about incredibly quick results, the bottom line is that neither of these claims can be supported by scientific facts or rigorous studies. Without proper checks conducted in a controlled environment, there is absolutely no reliable way to verify their effectiveness.

While lack of expected results certainly seems like a minor issue when compared to potentially lethal threat these medicines might pose due to unknown composition and side effects, it is still worth mentioning that even in the case where they turn out to be more or less safe, they can be a complete waste of money which will give you no benefits whatsoever. There have been many cases when illegally advertised medications turned out to be nothing more than starch.

Side effects of illegal slimming pills

If you followed the news, you might remember that in the recent years, there have been several tragic reports about people succumbing to the side effects of the illegally sold and marketed slimming pills. While the exact side effects will wary significantly and they can never be comprehensively listed, due to the fact that there are no guarantees about the exact composition of these drugs, some of the most commonly reported include:

  • Very high temperature and sudden and sharp increase in metabolism
  • Bladder infections
  • Kidney failure
  • Severe heart problems
  • Arrhythmia
  • Very high blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Seizures
  • Psychosis and mood disorders

Naturally, all medications, including the legal, regulated weight loss treatments can cause certain side effects in people susceptible to them. However, these will be carefully studied and documented before the medicine is made available to the general public. If there are any side effects that are so dangerous that the risks outweigh the benefits, then the MHRA won’t allow the medication to be sold. Alternatively, those medications might be especially tightly controlled so they can be used, for example, only in hospital settings when the potential benefits of their use include saving a life.

The presence of banned substances

The problem with weight loss medications that are not regulated by the MHRA is that there is no way to know what they actually contain. Just recently, the relevant authorities in the UK seized an exceptionally high quantity of ‘herbal’ diet pills which in fact contained numerous synthetic compounds, including the banned sibutramine which has been banned in the whole of Europe for 8 years now due to its direct link to numerous cases of heart attacks and strokes.

In another even more severe case, the unregulated tablets marketed as weight loss medicines contained so-called DNP (dynamic nutrient provider), a plant fertiliser which is lethal when ingested in sufficiently high amount. While no deaths have been reported due to this fake medicine, it is only because of the prompt action of the UK’s security services that stopped the tablets from reaching the public.

Finally, while some illegal diet pills might not contain banned substances, they might opt to not declare all the ingredients, leading to the possibility of their presence in unregulated amounts, leading to numerous side effects. Some of the fake slimming pills have been known to contain stimulants, diuretics and even antidepressants as their ingredients!

Contraindications and harmful interactions

When buying any medication the legal way, you will be informed not only about potential side effects, but also about possible harmful interactions with other medications you might be taking and contraindications. For prescription medications, contraindications will be high on the doctor’s list of priorities, so he will certainly carefully examine you in order to determine whether there are any risks.

Of course, with unregulated medications, neither of this will be the case. And even if there were clear and direct contraindications, you will have no way of knowing about them before the damage has already been done.

Buying herbal weight loss medications the right way

Of course, the purpose of this article is not to state that orlistat-based medications are the only option for those looking to lose weight. If you are really determined on going with an option that doesn’t include the use of prescription medications, you can give herbal remedies and supplements a try. However, when buying them, always make sure that they are marked by the Traditional Herbal Registration logo and a THR/PL number. This indicates that the herbal medicine in question has been tested and assessed by the MHRA to be safe for consumption.