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According to the Associated Press, the Food and Drug Administration said the maker of the dietary supplement "Hydroxycut" has agreed to recall 14 of its products. Available in grocery stores and pharmacies, Hydroxycut is advertised as made from natural ingredients. At least 9 million packages were sold last year, according to the FDA.

Dr. Linda Katz of the FDA’s food and nutrition division said the agency has received 23 reports of liver problems, including the death of a 19-year-old boy. The teenager died in 2007, and the death was reported to the FDA this March. Other patients experienced symptoms ranging from jaundice, or yellowing of the skin, to liver failure. One received a transplant and another was placed on a list to await a new liver.

Dietary supplements aren’t as tightly regulated by the government as medications. Manufacturers don’t need to prove to the FDA that their products are safe and effective before they can sell them to consumers. But regulators monitor aftermarket reports for signs of trouble, and in recent years companies have been put under stricter requirements to alert the FDA when they learn of problems.

I have had my own experience with this over-the-counter "supplement." Hydroxycut was a new (and very popular) supplement when I was in high school. The girls used it to lose weight, and most of the guys who used it did so to make weight for a sport or to get "geeked up" before a practice or game. I tried the drug a couple of times, but I didn’t like the way I could feel my heart race. It gave me the jitters.

It seems to me that you don’t have to be a doctor to realize that a pill that speeds up your heart rate to the point it is notiecable should be so easy to get and so loosley regulated. Because of its "supplement" status, fifteen-year-olds were using Hydroxycut products. I’m sure the manufactures will note that the warning label says "adults only," but, when has that stopped any teenager?

It is high time we close the giant "supplement loophole" and protect ourselves from the unregulated, immoral corporations that will package poison to make a buck.

Here is a list of the recalled items:

— Hydroxycut Regular Rapid Release Caplets— Hydroxycut Caffeine-Free Rapid Release Caplets — Hydroxycut Hardcore Liquid Caplets — Hydroxycut Max Liquid Caplets — Hydroxycut Regular Drink Packets — Hydroxycut Caffeine-Free Drink Packets — Hydroxycut Hardcore Drink Packets (Ignition Stix) — Hydroxycut Max Drink Packets — Hydroxycut Liquid Shots — Hydroxycut Hardcore RTDs (Ready-to-Drink) — Hydroxycut Max Aqua Shed — Hydroxycut 24 — Hydroxycut Carb Control — Hydroxycut Natural

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

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