Abu Dhabi Health Authority has warned residents not to buy banned medicines online. Image Credit: Megan Hirons Mahon/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi Health Authority has warned residents not to buy banned medicines online.

Ten slimming products withdrawn by the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD), are still being purchased by residents over the internet.

As a call-out for the community, HAAD has issued a statement to Gulf News asking residents to avoid purchasing these banned products online.

Recently, the HAAD asked the Abu Dhabi Municipality to withdraw five slimming products (Zain Alatat, Natural Max, Seven Slim, Miaozi, Superslim) and some had been withdrawn in 2010. They included Phytoshape, Hydroxy cut, Paiyouji tea, Royal Slim and drains the oil (a Chinese slimming product).

"HAAD and the municipality work together to ensure these drugs are not back to the market by conducting inspection on shops, advisries and warning through different communication channels including the media," said Dr Mohammad Abu Al Khair, Section Head, Drug and Medical Products Regulation, HAAD.

‘Ban sites'

An Abu Dhabi resident and a Gulf News reader, who identified herself as Umm Yousuf — was about to buy one of the banned products over the internet.

"I was thinking seriously to buy Paiyouji tea (a product being adulterated with "Sibutramine" — a drug which was banned last year); but these drugs are not on the market shelves, they are being sold on the internet through some forums, and you pay on delivery."

"I think the authorities should ban these sites from selling such items over the internet. I've bought many items through these forums and I believe they're selling dangerous goods and slimming products that do nothing but cause headaches and stomach-aches," Umm Yousuf said.

Dr Al Khair told Gulf News that whenever HAAD finds or receives a complaint about a product that may be counterfeit or has components that may cause harm to health, necessary action is taken to withdraw the product. "Any product that contains a substance not mentioned on the label is considered counterfeit," he added.

The latest slimming products withdrawn are Miaozi and Super Slim — both carry a substance called phenolphthalein which has side effects. The side-effects include cardiac problems, blood pressure variation, gastro-intestinal disturbance, liver failure and jaundice depending on the substance of adulteration and the dose taken.

HAAD does not have a tracking process for these products, or those using them, since these products are not registered or sold through licensed outlets.

Catchy slogans used to entice consumers

Banned medicine and slimming products use catchy, but misleading slogans on websites to entice customers. For example, in its official website, the banned product Paiyouji tea is marketed as ‘Paiyouji plus herbal slimming tea, 18 sachets and one free sachet with each box', ‘Best-selling weight loss product around the world!', ‘Paiyouji Plus — lose weight in just a few weeks!' ‘The most simple and effective diet plan that helps slim down and re-form your figure within weeks'.