For decades, consumers have been bombarded with products pitching weight loss that failed to work as promised, or worse, that presented health complications to consumers. Now, social media and the internet marketplace is fostering a trend reversal and pitching supplements to help consumers bulk up to a more-curvy appearance. That too may prove to cause severe health consequences, and so U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are stepping in to protect U.S. consumers.
On Friday, CBP officers in Baltimore seized 25,200 bottles of Apetamin, an alleged appetite stimulating weight-gain supplement, after an FDA consumer safety officer determined that Apetamin has not been approved for sale in, or import to the United States.
According to the FDA, Apetamin is a syrupy concoction that contains cyproheptadine, an antihistamine that requires a physician’s prescription in the U.S., the amino acid lysine, and vitamins. Apetamin, which may also be found in pill form, is largely marketed on social media to consumers searching for quick weight gains to help achieve a certain “slim thick” physique.
However, the FDA warns consumers that Apetamin has not been reviewed for safety and effectiveness, and that it reportedly poses potentially dangerous side effects, such as hallucinations, convulsions, decreased heart rates, coma, and death.
CBP initially inspected the shipment on April 3. Manifested as “African Black Soap,” the shipment arrived from Ghana and consisted of 1,008 boxes that collectively contained 25,200 units of 200ml bottles. CBP officers detained the shipment, which was destined to an address in the Bronx, N.Y.
An FDA consumer safety officer examined the shipment on April 11 and a week later confirmed that the Apetamin is prohibited as an unapproved product. FDA requested that CBP seize the shipment.
CBP’s Agriculture and Prepared Products Center of Excellence and Expertise, the agency’s trade experts, appraised the shipment at $688,464.
CBP seized the shipment on April 28. No arrests have been made.
“Apetamin is a relatively new phenomenon here in the U.S., but one that reportedly poses a serious health and safety threat to U.S. consumers. Customs and Border Protection and our FDA partners will continue to identify these shipments and take these dangerous, unapproved products out of circulation,” said Adam Rottman, Area Port Director for CBP’s Area Port of Baltimore. “Besides, I think many of us have found out by now that loading up on fast food is a really effective way to gain weight.”