News story

#FakeMeds in 2017: New Year, Same Danger

In a New Year with new beginnings, the dangers of fake and unlicensed medical products remain the same. We continue our campaign against fake and unlicensed medical products in 2017.


As we make our resolutions for 2017, MHRA continues to warn everybody looking to lose weight in the New Year of the dangers of buying diet pills online. Helping us is 25 year old Natalie-Jade, who agreed to share her experience buying diet pills online and reveals why she supports the #FakeMeds campaign.

1. What motivated you to buy slimming pills?

I had started to go out with friends and was constantly facing beautiful slim looking women who I kind of began to envy.

2. What process did you go through to buy them?

I simply googled the quickest way to lose weight and had easy access to a site that I could purchase from there and then.

3. Did you have an awareness that they might not be “legitimate”? Did you consider going to a doctor or pharmacist?

This thought did cross my mind but at that point I had no education on health or what it could potentially do to my body. The before and after pictures did it for me. Going to a doctor or someone professional was embarrassing and to buy over the internet - no one else had to know.

4. Did you google the ingredients and research what you thought you were getting?

Not at all. I saw some reviews - whether they were real or not I’ll never know, I just went for it.

5 What was written on the bottle?

The bottle that arrived was a plain white tub. No instructions, no ingredients.

6. How did you feel when you first took them?

I felt like I was doing something naughty as I was keeping them secretly hidden from my family and friends.

7. When did you first realise that they might be affecting your health?

I had stopped eating pretty much altogether. I started to sweat more and was drinking excessive amounts of water.

8. Tell us what happened when you ended up in hospital, and what the aftermath was?

After 8 weeks of taking the pills I’d had enough. I felt like everything was going at 100mph and I needed it to stop. These symptoms calmed slightly but continued for years to follow. Eventually one day I’d lost all my appetite a migraine came over me and I collapsed.

In hospital I had an ECG (Editor’s note: an electrocardiogram (ECG) is used to test your heart rate) which revealed that my heart rate was abnormally high. After several days and tests later I was told I had Atrial Tachycardia (Editor’s note: AT is a condition that causes your heart to beat at an abnormally high rate because of problems with your heart’s electrical system).

This condition led to anxiety, panic attacks and a general feeling of my heart beating out of my chest which on occasion still happens today. I was told by the cardiology department at the hospital that the pills I took contained Ephedrine, Aspirin and caffeine.

9. Do you think there needs to be better awareness about the issue of fake and unlicensed medicines such as diet pills, and how to buy safely?

Yes, 100%. It’s too easy to purchase dodgy diet pills online and it’s so, so dangerous. I thought it would never happen to me, and in the end I was lucky.

10. What is your message for anybody considering buying diet pills online?

Don’t do it. There are better, safer and healthier ways. Just ask for advice from someone who is educated and experienced in this field.

11. Looking back, how do you feel about fake medicines?

I am disgusted that people are able to profit through fooling others and putting their lives at risk.

Published 3 January 2017