CEBU - Operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Central Visayas raided two stores in downtown Cebu City that allegedly sell slimming and anti-obesity products that were banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Some 190 boxes of products worth P20,000 were seized from Yu Lian Merchandising on Legaspi St. and Beauty Shape Cosmetic on Sanciangko St. on Thursday.

The slimming products were not cleared by the FDA because these have side effects on the users.

Most of the products contain “harmful” ingredients, according to FDA.

NBI 7 Director Max Salvador said the FDA asked for help from his office in confiscating the banned products because of their “detrimental effects” on public health.

“I would like to make an appeal that the banned products should not be sold,” said Salvador. “The people should not buy it… Even if you’re still fat you would think you’re slim.”

During the raid, the NBI 7 agents invited two foreign nationals believed to be Chinese, the owners of Yu Lian and some employees for questioning.

Salvador said the foreigners who were seen inside the Yu Lian store will face charges if they are proven to be involved in selling the products.

Business registration documents show that Yu Lian is registered under Rinir Luchavez, while Beauty Shape Cosmetic’s proprietor is Maricar Panerio.

Also, if the foreigners are found to be illegal aliens, they will be turned over to the Bureau of Immigration (BI) office, Salvador said.

Selling banned products violates Republic Act (RA) 3720 or the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act as amended by the Executive No. 175.

Some provisions of the law prohibit “the manufacture, sale, offering for sale or transfer of any food, drug, or cosmetic that is adulterated or misbranded and the adulteration or misbranding of any food, drug, device or cosmetic.”

A drug is considered adulterated if it contains “poisonous substance” that is “injurious” to one’s health. Salvador said the FDA did not register the products because these have side effects on the users.

Most of the products contain ingredients like amphetamine, sibutramine, and steroids, according to FDA.

Amphetamine’s harmful effects include irregular heartbeat, confusion, urine retention and painful urination, hyperthermia, hyperreflexia, muscle pain, severe agitation, rapid breathing, and shaking.

“Large overdose, however, may produce symptoms such as psychosis, anuria, cardiogenic shock, cerebral hemorrhage, circulatory collapse, extreme fever, pulmonary hypertension, renal failure, rapid muscle breakdown, serotonin syndrome, and stereotypy. Fatal amphetamine poisoning usually involves convulsion and coma,” the FDA warned in its website.

Sibutramine, FDA says, increases the “risk of serious heart events, including non-fatal heart attack or non-fatal stroke and death by 16 percent in a group of patients given sibutramine compared with another group given the placebo.”

A study also showed that there was only a small difference in weight loss between the group given the placebo and the group given the sibutramine.

Some ill effects of long-term use of steroids are glaucoma, cataracts, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes mellitus, obesity, acid reflux, osteoporosis, myopathy, increase in certain types of infections, and Cushing syndrome.

The sale of banned slimming products is not just widespread in Cebu, but also in other parts of the Philippines, said Salvador.

FDA reported that the banned brands are also sold in the Internet and social networking sites. The products confiscated included slimming pill brands like Hokkaido, Pearl White, Perfect Figure, Slim and Beauty, and slimming coffee brand Leisure 18.

These brands are included in the list of slimming products that FDA banned for public sale since 2010.

Others are Ballet Dancer Fat Reducing, Bio-Lissom Fat Reducing, Brazilian Slimming Coffee, Cell Life Slimming Coffee, Elegant Shape Fat Reducing, Goodliness Fat Reducing, Happyslim, Lightness Fat Reducing, Maggie Fitness Essence, Mei Shen Ting Anti-Obesity, Modeling Fat-Reducing, New Original Lightness Fat-Reducing, Perfect Slim Fat Reduction Cosmetic, and Perfect Slim Purely Natural Fat Reduction Cosmetic.

Pill for Weight Reduction, Pretty Model, Qiaomei Fat Binder, Qi Xian Nu, Seven Days Miracle, Shaping Body Fat Loss, Slim and Beauty Slimming, Slim Up Extra Whitening and Reducing, and Xianzimei Fat Reduction are also included in the list of banned items.

Before the raid on Thursday, Inesin and supervising agent Rey Villordon conducted surveillance for a month.

The operation was based on the search warrant issued by Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 18 Judge Gilbert Moises.

Only Hokkaido pills were mentioned in the search warrant, but since NBI agents were accompanied by DOH personnel, other banned products were also seized.

Inesin said the DOH has “visitorial power” that enables them to inspect stores and confiscate unregistered products. He advised the public to check if the slimming products are certified by FDA before buying them. (Sun.Star Cebu)