Woman Sues Over Contaminated Diet Pills | Ellis Injury Law

Woman Sues Over Contaminated Diet Pills

February 21, 2014

Ellis Law Corporation


According to a recently filed diet pill lawsuit, a New York City woman who took supplements to lose weight ended up with insomnia so severe that she temporarily lost her sanity.  Tests performed on the supplements detected banned and restricted drugs that were not found on the product’s label.

In December of 2012, Sainah Theodore purchased a product called Natural Lipo X from the Natural Health Food Center in East New York.  Though she had used the product without incident previously, this time was different. Following six days of total sleep deprivation, she sent her mother aggressive and nonsensical text messages, informed friends that she was hearing voices, and finally clawed through a screen door in her home and began to destroy her own belongings.  After medics were called, she spent the next five days in a mental hospital.

Tests confirmed that the remaining capsules of the product contained large amounts of caffeine, as well as Phenolphthalein (a laxative that cannot be sold over-the-counter) and Sibutramine (which was banned by the FDA in 2010).  Sibutramine’s known side effects include insomnia.  None of the substances was identified on the label.

Dietary supplements often contaminated, falsely labeled

A recent survey of supplements conducted by ConsumerLab.com, an independent company, found that as many as one quarter of the supplements tested are contaminated or flawed in some substantive way.  Some contain high levels of toxins, have dangerous levels of potency, include banned or restricted drugs (as in the case above), or are simply ineffective.

Though Theodore purchased her product in NY, the problem is a national one.  In December of 2009, for instance, the FDA issued warnings regarding several diet pills sold across the county that included unapproved or controlled medications, none of which were listed on their labels.

In 2012, a Los Angeles diet pill lawsuit filed against GNC claimed that the store sold an exercise supplement that included DMAA, an “illegal and dangerous” compound, according to court documents.  The substance has been found in a variety of exercise and diet pills.

Diet pill makers poorly regulated, but still liable for violations

Unfortunately, FDA regulation of supplements is relatively lax.  A law passed by Congress in 1994 allows herbal supplements to go directly to market with no FDA inspection whatsoever.  The FDA only intervenes if adverse health effects occur as a result of taking the drug and are reported to the agency.   Moreover, until 2008, such reporting was not required, whereas now only serious health effects must be reported.

Despite the relative lack of regulation, supplement manufacturers are still liable if they produce adulterated or falsely labeled products and can even face criminal charges for doing so.

Theodore and her lawyer filed a complaint against the health store on January 6, 2014.  She claims she was left with medical bills and was unable to work for several days, and that the incident also caused her deployment to Afghanistan to be delayed and possibly cancelled.  (Theodore is a reservist with the U.S. Army).

Legal recourse by filing a diet pill lawsuit in Los Angeles

California product liability lawyers represent clients who have been harmed by such unsafe or poorly labeled diet pills and other products.  If you live in the Los Angeles area and have experienced adverse side effects from a diet pill or other herbal supplement, contact Ellis Law at 310-641-3335 for a free consultation.

We represent those who have been injured by dangerous products like diet pills and have the resources and experience necessary to get you the compensation you deserve.