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Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2012;29(11):1661-7. doi: 10.1080/19440049.2012.706834. Epub 2012 Aug 1.

A new approach to determining pharmacologic adulteration of herbal weight loss products.

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  • 1Graduate Program in Pharmaceutical Sciences, Federal University of Santa Maria-UFSM, Santa Maria-RS, Brazil.


Pharmaceutical adulterants are commonly found in herbal weight loss products, and analytical techniques for detecting these adulterants have become increasingly important to the public health community. Previously we reported a novel analytical method for the determination of adulterants in herbal formulations by capillary electrophoresis with contactless conductivity detection. The current study refines this previously described technique by testing if anxiolytics, diuretics, and laxatives interfered with the detection of anorectics and antidepressants. A survey of herbal weight loss products sold by compounding pharmacies in Brazil were analysed to determine the presence of pharmaceutical adulterants. A total of 106 herbal products, collected from 73 pharmacies in nine Brazilian states, were analysed for amfepramone, sibutramine, fenproporex, fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline and bupropion using the new analytical method. The method permitted the rapid and selective screening for the seven adulterants. Of the 106 weight loss products sampled, four (3.8%) were found to be adulterated by fenproporex or sibutramine. The adulterated samples were compounded by four different pharmacies located in three different Brazilian states. The novel capillary electrophoresis method we developed may be a useful tool for public health organisations tasked with analysing herbal weight loss products.

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