Drug giant GlaxoSmithKline is fighting counterfeiters who have targeted its over-the-counter weight-loss product, Alli. The fakes contain sibutramine rather than the drug's active ingredient, orlistat, says the FDA. Suspicions arose early last month through consumer complaints. Internet sales so far are the only retail channel involved.
Sibutramine, a schedule 4 controlled substance, is itself an appetite-suppressant. Ukmedix News reports that many orlistat takers use the drug because they cannot tolerate the sibutramine-containing Reductil treatment made by Abbott Labs. Sibutramine can lead to harmful interactions with other medications.
The FDA warns that the fake looks similar to the real thing, but has some differences not likely to be noticed by consumers. Among them are the missing lot codes, slightly outsized bottle cap, lack of inner seal protection declaration, and powder-, rather than pellet-filled capsules. The FDA site includes comparative photos.