Medsafe warns consumers against using two products marketed for weight loss
1/08/2019 3:35:42 p.m.

1 August 2019

The Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield has today published a warning to consumers about two products, Go lean Detox and Go Detox, which have been marketed for weight loss. The warning is published on the Medsafe website.

Consumers should stop taking these products and return them to the supplier or dispose of them safely. 

Go lean Detox and Go Detox have been tested by ESR on behalf of Medsafe and found to contain two prescription medicines, sibutramine and phenolphthalein. These substances are not declared on the product label.
Medicines containing sibutramine were previously marketed in New Zealand for weight loss. However, they were withdrawn from the New Zealand market, and other markets internationally, in 2010 following review of a study that found an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes associated with this medicine. Phenolphthalein has a known laxative effect and is no longer used in medicines in New Zealand. 

Medsafe has been notified of one report of a patient experiencing side effects after taking one of these products.
While there’s no reliable information about how many people have taken these products, anyone who has these products is advised to stop taking them immediately and either return them to the supplier or dispose of them safely. Consumers should also seek medical advice if they feel unwell when taking these products. 

Medsafe has notified known distributors of the two products, which are thought to have been sourced from Vietnam, to immediately stop supplying them. Stocks of the products have been seized as a result of the warning. 

Adverse reactions to these products or to any herbal product should be reported to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring. Consumers can also report any concerns to Medsafe. 

This warning has been issued as a privileged statement by the Director-General of Health under section 98 of the Medicines Act 1981. 

Have these products been removed from sale?
The known distributors of these products, which appear to have originated in Vietnam, have been required to immediately cease supplying them. However, it is possible that other distributors may still be supplying these products.
Stocks have been seized.
If a consumer is taking one of these products what should they do?
Consumers should stop taking these products and return them to the supplier or dispose of them safely.
General warning for consumers about any products making therapeutic claims available via the Internet

Medsafe is warning consumers that products making therapeutic claims being sold through websites may not be legal in New Zealand. All products for which a therapeutic benefit is being claimed must first be 'approved' by the Minister of Health before they can be marketed.

Consumers should also be alert to complementary healthcare products that appear to be of poor quality, cause side effects, or appear to be unusually effective or are available from unusual sources.

Any concerns should be reported to Medsafe, or for more information visit the Medsafe website.

Important information for traders

Distributors, importers and sellers are responsible for ensuring the products they import or sell do not contain any prescription medicines. It may, for instance, be prudent to test products prior to distribution. It is illegal to sell or supply prescription medicines without the purchaser having a prescription from a registered medical practitioner.

On conviction, the maximum penalty for an individual who sells a medicine without first having it registered through the regulatory process administered by Medsafe is $20,000 or up to 6 months in prison.

On conviction, the maximum penalty for a body corporate which sells a medicine without first having it registered through the regulatory process administered by Medsafe is $100,000.

The Ministry of Health takes breaches of the medicines laws very seriously, especially where patient and consumer safety is put at risk, and regulatory action will be taken as necessary to ensure compliance.


Media contact

Blair Cunningham

021 195 3978