Counterfeit phentermine weight loss tablets found in US

Counterfeit phentermine tabletCounterfeit phentermine hydrochloride weight loss tablets containing the banned drug fenfluramine are being passed off as the legitimate product of generics manufacturer Actavis Elizabeth, according to a new warning.

As the company has not distributed phentermine HCl tablets (37.5 mg) since 2008 and does not distribute the product to online sellers, it says that any such tablets being sold in the US as Actavis product are counterfeit. It plans to market phentermine HCl tablets in the US in future, but not until 2012 at the earliest.

The counterfeits in circulation are white oval-shaped bisected tablets with blue speckles; an “A” and “159” are embossed on them. They have been found to contain fenfluramine, another obesity drug that was formerly used in combination with phentermine (so-called “fen-phen” therapy), but was taken off the market in 1997 because of its association with an increased risk of heart valve disease.

Consumers who have obtained counterfeit versions of the phentermine HCl tablets have been advised to stop taking the product and to report the counterfeits and any associated adverse events to the Food and Drug Administration’s MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program.

Although other companies such as Qualitest and Lannett market legitimate phentermine HCl tablets and capsules in the US, they require a prescription. Nonetheless, there are numerous online pharmacies offering to sell the short-term obesity drug without one.

The phentermine warning comes on the heels of reports that an Actavis truckload full of opioid analgesics, benzodiazepines and epilepsy drugs had been stolen in transit. Pharmaceuticals are one of the most common targets for thieves. Another large heist was reported by the FDA earlier this year after thousands of units of drugs, including phentermine HCl 37.5 mg tablets, were stolen from the Bryant Ranch Prepack facility in North Hollywood, California.

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