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Counterfeit Medicine Warning

Diane Fennell

January 22, 2010

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline are warning consumers about a small quantity of counterfeit weight-loss products, falsely labeled as brand-name drug alli, that have been sold on online auction Web sites.

The fake products, labeled as the 60-milligram, 120-count refill packs, do not include orlistat, the active ingredient in the authentic alli product, but instead contain the prescription drug sibutramine. Sibutramine could potentially interact with other drugs a person is taking and should not be used without the oversight of a doctor.

The counterfeit pills are illegal and have no connection to GlaxoSmithKline. Although they may look similar to authentic alli, the counterfeit product has the following notable characteristics:

  • the “lot” code information is missing from the top of the outer cardboard packaging
  • the expiration date includes the month, day, and year (for example, 06162010); the authentic alli expiration date includes only the month and year (for example, 05/12)
  • the seal on the bottle does not read “SEALED FOR YOUR PROTECTION” in white ink, as it does on the bottle of the authentic product
  • the plastic bottle has a slightly taller and wider cap with coarser ribbing than that of the genuine product
  • the capsules are slightly larger and contain a more powdery content than the authentic alli

Consumers are advised to purchase alli only from reputable retailers or from their branded Web sites. Those who suspect they have purchased counterfeit alli are urge to contact the FDA here.

For further information and photos comparing the authentic and counterfeit alli products side-by-side, visit the alli online press room.

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