FDA says steer clear of alleged 'homeopathic' weight loss aid HCG

Over-the-counter products containing human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG, are not safe, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, and should be pulled from production lines. In conjunction with the FDA, the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection said that manufacturers are making unsupported claims about their products' performance, putting themselves in violation of federal law -- and putting the public at risk.

HCG is a hormone produced by the placenta in pregnancy, and it is approved by the FDA for prescription use to treat infertility in women. The FDA has not, however, approved its use for weight loss, and HCG is not approved for use in any over-the-counter product.

If you treat a patient who uses HCG or has discussed with you the possible use of HCG, please instruct them to discontinue use of the product or avoid it altogether, as HCG may put individuals at risk for gallstones, heart arrhythmias and electrolyte imbalance - especially if they are following the extreme calorie restriction recommended by weight-loss products containing HCG. If you know a health care professional who prescribes or administers this drug in injectable form for the off-label use of weight loss, please alert them of the side effects. The FDA has received reports of adverse events from use of this drug in this way, including pulmonary embolism, depression, cardiac arrest and death.

More information about products containing HCG and the false claims made by manufacturers is available at www.fda.gov/hcgdiet.