Drug-Spiked Arthritis Weight Loss
Supplements Cheat Consumers

Place Public Safety and Health at Peril

Many adulterated arthritis weight loss supplements remain available for purchase even after FDA warnings are issued, according to a 2018 quality-improvement study. The analyzed products were promoted as helpful for a variety of physical disorders in addition to diet purposes.  They all contained drug ingredients with potential to cause serious adverse health effects.1,2

Researchers discovered nearly 68% of 776 dietary supplements the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identified as adulterated from 2007 to 2016 continue to contain hidden active pharmaceuticals.  Of these, 41% were most often marketed for weight loss and 46% for sexual enhancement.1

Drug ingredients found in the dietary supplements, even after manufacturers were warned, have the potential to cause serious adverse health effects. This could result in accidental misuse, overuse, or interaction with other medications, underlying health conditions, or other pharmaceuticals within the supplement, the authors concluded in the JAMA Network Open journal October 12, 2018.1

When pharmaceuticals were illegally discovered, the FDA rarely used its mandatory recall authority, instead opting for softer warnings, reported a study author, Madhur Kumar, PhD, of the California Department of Public Health in Sacramento “This indicates that these products continue to be sold and are potentially dangerous,” Kumar and co-authors wrote.  “This is alarming, especially considering that the FDA is only able to test a portion of products available on the market.”1.

Hundreds of arthritis weight loss brands are adulterated 
Arthritis weight loss supplements contain intentionally-hidden ingredients
FDA: Drug-laced weight loss products is “an emerging trend”
FDA: Arthritis weight loss supplement consumers--do your homework
One clinically studied arthritis weight loss plan is the industry’s gold standard Recommended clinically-proven arthritis weight loss program

Hundreds of arthritis weight loss brands are adulterated

“The current study demonstrates that there are hundreds of brands of adulterated supplements that have not been recalled, but the FDA has only once used their mandatory recall authority to recall an adulterated supplement,” said Pieter Cohen, MD, of Harvard Medical School in Boston, the author of an accompanying commentary to the study. he said.2

“It’s hard to explain why the agency would dedicate extensive resources to detecting experimental drugs in supplements, but, after discovering them, not inform the public or recall the products,” Dr. Cohen said, who added: “To begin remedying this issue, the FDA should use their mandatory recall authority whenever firms don’t agree to the voluntary recalls.”2

In the study, Kumar and colleagues found that among the adulterated supplements, nearly 80% contained at least one hidden, unapproved ingredient, while 16% contained at least two ingredients.  The FDA issued warnings for these products, which most often came in the form of a voluntary recall to be issued by the supplement manufacturer (46.4%) or a public notification (44.1%).1

However, in the past 5 years, the researchers said, there was a trend for the FDA to use “quick, more informal warning types,” opting for more public notifications rather than voluntary recalls.1

The most common adulterant was sibutramine for arthritis weight loss supplements.  Other common ingredients were phenolphthalein, or sibutramine analogues, which the FDA removed from the market several years ago due to cardiovascular risks.

The products identified in the study appeared in the FDA’s Tainted Supplements database.

Arthritis weight loss supplements contain intentionally-hidden ingredients 

Dr. Cohen also warned that not all ingredients in supplements, such as for arthritis weight loss, may be listed on the label, and that these illegally formulated products have the potential to be “as potent as prescription drugs.” Diet supplements and weight loss plans are often recommended for arthritis pain relief.

He said it is not uncommon for companies to spike weight-loss and exercise supplements with amphetamine-like chemicals, then hide them on their labels under the names of obscure plants to give the impression they are natural botanical extracts.3

According to Dr. Cohen, many contaminated supplements come from well-known manufacturers based in the United States. He cited a 2014 study that he and others conducted that found 20 of 27 supplements were still adulterated with drugs and available for purchase between eight and 52 months after they were voluntarily recalled by the FDA.4

However, Daniel Fabricant, president of an industry trade group Natural Products Association, said that diet supplements, like those for arthritis weight loss, as well as   sexual enhancement and muscle-building products, shouldn’t fall into the same category as traditional dietary supplements like vitamins.  He said the contaminated products found in the FDA database are “fringe products” made by unscrupulous manufacturers that are sold online or in convenience stores. He added: “This is someone spiking the product.  They’re saying it’s a supplement.  It’s not a supplement in any way, shape, or form.”5 

FDA: Drug-laced weight loss products are “an emerging trend”

If you are a consumer interested in arthritis weight loss supplements, the abundance of hidden pharmaceuticals in these products can be found on the FDA web page, Tainted Weight Loss Products, which lists 349 drug-spiked brands.6

Excerpted from the page: “FDA has identified an emerging trend where over-the-counter products, frequently represented as dietary supplements, contain hidden active ingredients that could be harmful.  Consumers may unknowingly take products laced with varying quantities of approved prescription drug ingredients, controlled substances, and untested and unstudied pharmaceutically active ingredients.”

“These deceptive products can harm you!” FDA continues. “Hidden ingredients are increasingly becoming a problem in products promoted for weight loss.”

The following disclaimer also appears on the page: “Remember, FDA cannot test all products on the market that contain potentially harmful hidden ingredients.  Enforcement actions and consumer advisories for tainted products only cover a small fraction of the tainted over-the-counter products on the market.” 

FDA: Arthritis weight loss supplement consumers--do your homework  

The FDA publishes a web page, Tips for Dietary Supplement Users, to encourage consumers to make informed decisions and evaluate information prior to purchasing a dietary supplement.7

One of the tips to becoming a savvy consumer is to contact the manufacturer or distributor for more information about the specific product that you are purchasing.

If you’re not sure if an arthritis weight loss supplement meets the same standards as those used in research studies you read about, find a company representative who can answer questions.  Here are four questions the FDA says to ask:7

  1. What information does the firm have to substantiate the claims made for the product? (Be aware that sometimes firms supply so-called “proof” of their claims by citing undocumented reports from satisfied consumers, or “internal” graphs and charts that could be mistaken for evidence-based research).
  2. Does the firm have information to share about tests it has conducted on the safety or efficacy of the ingredients in the product?
  3. Does the firm have a quality control system in place to determine if the product contains what is stated on the label and is free of contaminants?
  4. Has the firm received any adverse events reports from consumers using their products.

The FDA publishes many pages on its website warning consumers that dietary supplements are not equal in quality.  As this article has framed, Big Brother can’t stop contaminated weight loss products from entering the market.  They’re foods, and compared to pharmaceuticals, regulations to market supplement products are weak, poorly adhered to, and poorly enforced, to put it mildly. 

We found our recommended (see below) dietary supplement manufacturer by following the steps on this How to Find the Top Dietary Supplements link. 

One clinically studied arthritis weight loss plan is the industry’s gold standard

If you are seeking the best arthritis weight loss plan, the clinically-proven Shaklee 180 program is different than anything else you’ve tried before. It’s guaranteed pure, safe, effective with a “feel better in 30 days or your money back” promise.  

The plan is centered around high protein shakes.  Its four-week starter kit includes 20-gram-protein meal replacements and healthy snacks plus a step-by-step guide and online access to support tools, healthy recipes, meal plans, exercise programs, lifestyle information and success stories to help lose the weight safely and learn how to keep it off.10,11  

A key component in the product line is the amino acid leucine, clinically-tested to help keep muscle while burning fat and losing inches.  The best kind of weight loss is when you lose fat but keep muscle—most conventional diet plans burn fat and muscle, which contributes to the yo yo affect.  Researchers in a 2016 study said: “If you’re not getting enough complete protein with all nine essential amino acids, you’re not giving your body the building blocks to build muscle efficiently.  If you’re losing weight, you’ll lose even more muscle.”8, 9

With the recommended weight loss diet plan you get leaner and lose inches--at first your clothing size may shrink at a greater rate than your weight—which is what most really want.

All products are supported by research that suggests overweight/obese patients who lose pounds may experience less inflammation.  It promotes successful and sustainable weight management by following a moderate calorie diet plan that includes high protein meal replacements, and by performing a basic exercise program that includes resistance and aerobic training.10,11

Recommended clinically-proven arthritis weight loss program

Here’s what you get in the recommended 180 reverse kit, which provides two meals a day.  You eat a sensible third meal on your own.  The kit meals are customizable, with a choice of flavors.  Increase the shake protein grams by mixing nuts, seeds, nut butters, milk or your favorite vegetables or fruits.

The kit contains everything you need for four weeks in an arthritis weight loss program: :

Three canisters (45 total servings) of delicious keto friendly meal replacement Life Shakes  packed with protein to curb hunger and increase energy.  Available in Plant and Soy Protein formulas, and stevia free soy protein, choose from several flavors.  Each Life Shake contains:

  •  20 grams of non-GMO protein to keep you feeling fuller longer.  Starting at 130 calories per serving.
  • Clinically proven to help you reach and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Powered by Leucine® to help you build lean muscle, burn fat, improve metabolism.
  • Proprietary prebiotic from an organic ancient grains blend enjoyed by humans for millenia, plus added digestive enzymes. Easy to digest, promotes regularity and digestive comfort.
  • 23 essential vitamins and minerals and 200 mg of calcium plus ALA, an essential omega-3 fatty acid.
  • Low glycemic, vegan, cholesterol free and gluten free.

Two boxes (14 total servings) of meal replacement Meal-in-a-Bars, available in three flavors, a great alternative to the Life Energizing Shake with 18-20 grams of protein to keep you feeling full and satisfied.  Great for a meal-on-the-run.

One box of ten healthy Snack Bars loaded with protein and fiber, available in four flavors

One box (28 sticks) of Energizing Tea, a safe and natural way to head off the slumps, available in two flavors.

 One Metabolic Boost supplement (30=day supply) to help burn calories naturally and keep your metabolism going strong

Program support including a step-by-step guide and online access to tools, tips, healthy recipes, meal plans, exercise programs lifestyle information and success stories to help support your progress.

Each of the products in this arthritis weight loss program are also available for purchase separately to continue the diet after the first four weeks.  Just click on this Healthy Weight link. 

Give this weight loss plan a try.  When you see the results, you’ll be glad you did—and will be encouraged to continue with the twice daily very healthy protein shakes until you meet your goal.

Whatever the length of your arthritis weight loss diet plan, additional clinical research indicates that a post-diet weight maintenance program incorporating twice weekly resistance and aerobic exercise sessions, coupled with one daily Shaklee meal replacement protein shake is effective for avoiding weight regain.  These regimens also improve body composition, with concurrent fat mass decrease and lean mass increase.2, 6

Note:  Plan is also available in a Starter Kit with less products.

Disclaimer: Health statements on this arthritis weight loss page have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


1 Tucker,J MPH, Kumar, M MS PhD et al; Study: Unapproved pharmaceutical ingredients included in dietary supplements associated with FDA warnings.  Published JAMA Network Open, October 12, 2018

2 Monaco Kristen, Article: Adulterated diet supplements: Should FDA do more? Most common action was agency warning, voluntary recall.  Published MedPageToday, October 12, 2018

3 Cohen Pieter MD, Perspective article: American roulette—contaminated dietary supplements published N Engl J Med 2009, 361:1523-1525, DOI:10.1056/NEJMp0904768, October 15, 2009

4 Cohen Pieter MD, Perspective article; Hazards of hindsight--monitoring the safety of nutritional supplements, published N Engl J Med 2014: 370;1277-1280. DOI:10.1056/NEJMp1315559, April 3, 2014

5  Barrett, Mike; Article, FDA analysis: Hundreds of dietary supplements tainted with rogue pharmaceuticals, published in Natural Society, October 15, 2018  http://naturalsociety.com/fda-analysis-hundreds-dietary-supplements-contain-pharmaceuticals-7917/

6 FDA web page: Tainted Weight Loss Products, Food & Drug Administration, Updated January 28, 2019, accessed April 23, 2019  https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/Medication


7 FDA Web Page, Questions and Answers about FDA’s Initiative Against Contaminated Weight Loss Products, Food & Drug Administration, updated February 28, 2018, accessed April 23, 2019  https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/QuestionsAnswers/ucm136187.htm

8 Longland TM, et al; study Higher compred with lower dietary protein during an energy deficit combined with intense exercise promotes greater lean mass gain and fat mass loss: a randomized trial, published The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 103, issue 3, pgs 738-746, January 27, 2016  https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.115.119339

9 Fall 2018 product catalog, Life Without Compromise, Healthy Weight section, Burn Fat, Not Muscle with Leucine, Item #76686, Pg 74, Shaklee Corporation, Pleasanton, CA 94588

10 Shaklee 180™® program has been clinically proven to help people lose weight and keep it off. Westcott W, Colligan A, Puhala K, Lannutti K, La Rosa Loud R, Vallier S. Journal of Exercise Physiology Staged. 2017 Feb 1;20(1).

11 Westcott W, Colligan A, Lannutti K, La Rosa Loud R, Vallier S. Effects of Resistance Exercise and Protein on Body Composition Following Weight Loss. Journal of Clinical Exercise and Physiology 2018;7(2):25-32

Related Links

What About The Recommended Manufacturer? The Shaklee Corporation was founded in 1956 as a health and wellness products manufacturer. They have grown into the #1 natural nutrition company in the US.Science is their claim to fame. They have the largest science staff of any dietary supplement manufacturer, with over 100 peer reviewed clinical journal publications. They guarantee the safety, and effectiveness of their products with a beyond organic approach to ensuring ingredient purity. Click here to see why they’re so different

Osteoarthritis Relief. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It affects joints of the knees, hips, fingers, lower spine, shoulders and neck. Click here for more on osteoarthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis Relief. Many of the natural or herbal supplements for osteoarthritis are also recommended for inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis. Click here for RA natural treatment options

Arthritis Products 3 safe natural products scientifically designed to fight pain and reduce dependency on pharmaceutical medicines. Each unique for rapid relief and joint health …. Click here for details

The Pain Trio Contains direct links to the three products listed above for prices and additional information on product purchasing pages. Click here for direct links to the Pain Trio for arthritis pain and mobility issues.

Natural Supplements. Glucosamine, boswellia, GLA, Lecithin, Vit-E and the best omega-3 fish oil are among dietary supplements that provide alternative treatment to painkilling drugs for arthritis with minimal side effects. Click here for more information

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