FDA cracks down on illegal diabetes products

The Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on more than a dozen companies that sell illegal products marketed for the treatment of diabetes.

The agency sent warning letters to 15 companies demanding that they stop selling the products because of violations of U.S. drug and safety laws.

Questionable ingredients

Many of the products are marketed as "natural" or "herbal" supplements that contain unlisted pharmaceutical ingredients. One product called Diexi, which is promoted as a traditional Indian herbal formula, contains metformin – a common prescription drug used for the treatment of diabetes.

Other companies are selling diabetes medications without prescriptions, the agency reports.

Products like Zostrix Foot Pain Relief Cream, DiabeRex and Glytain were among the targeted treatments. Some of these products come with claims such as "the New Diabetes Miracle," or "the all-natural way to support normal blood sugar levels," which leads consumers to believe these products are safe, officials said.

Inherent dangers

According to the FDA, the biggest danger is that people might turn to these treatments in lieu of getting necessary medical help.

“These people are fraudsters who are scamming people and creating risks that people are going to get very sick,” said Howard Sklamberg, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Diabetics inherently have higher risks of heart attacks, blindness and kidney problems, which makes taking questionable supplements an even bigger threat, said Dr. Karen Mahoney, an FDA safety reviewer.

“All patients with diabetes need to be under the care of a licensed health care professional,” Mahoney told NBC News. “You need to go to a doctor. If they’re taking on one of these products, they should stop.”

A full list of the companies that have received warning letters can be found on the FDA's website.

Source: NBC News

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