The Independent Pharmacy

Why Buying Unlicensed & Fake Diet Pills Online Is So Dangerous

Andy Boysan
Andy BoysanBPharmDirector & Superintendent Pharmacist

Reviewed on 4 Jul 2023

Summer is here and it’s a popular time for last minute-weight loss, particularly before a holiday.

Trying to lose some weight leading up to the hotter months is a common trend and it can be done effectively when done in the right way.

But pushing yourself too hard in too short a time can lead to failure/ When you’ve tried and failed to lose weight on a number of occasions, it can become demoralising.

At this point, it’s easy to see the appeal of ads for ‘quick-fix’ diet pills that make grand claims about how much weight you can lose, and how quickly you can lose it.

But more often than not these ads are promoting unlicensed diet pills, the effects of which can range from simply not working to severely affecting your health.

False advertising is largely to blame for attracting people to these unrealistic propositions. But there is also an issue around education. Many people don’t know how to spot a legitimate medicine, whether buying online or on the high street.

We commissioned a survey earlier this year that revealed 83% of people do not know how to check whether a site selling medicine is safe and legitimate.

Here we look at why buying unlicensed and/or fake diet pills online is so dangerous and what you can do to keep yourself safe:

Unknown ingredients

When you buy Orlistat, the only licensed weight loss pill in the UK, from a reputable pharmacy, you can trust the list of ingredients. A legitimate pharmacy will have qualified pharmacists who follow an audit trail of the medicine from manufacture to dispensing and are subject to oversight from regulatory bodies with the power to take action if they act unethically or mislead patients.

When you buy medicine that hasn’t been officially licensed for use through a third-party seller, however, you can’t know what ingredients are inside. This is because there’s no meaningful accountability for the product.

In fact, it’s generally in the financial interest of those sellers to swap out ingredients for cheaper substitutes that are lower quality and ineffective. They feel no responsibility for the effects their products have on their users and consequently fail to make the necessary checks.

If you take some questionable unlicensed diet pills and have an urgent medical issue, what information will you be able to give the doctor when you’re rushed to the hospital? They’ll need as much detail as possible about what you ingested, but you won’t be able to tell them with any degree of certainty. You’ll just have to hope that they recognise your symptoms and happen to be familiar with that particular line of fake pills.

No quality control

Licensed products come through purpose-built production lines with numerous quality control steps along the way. Everything from the preparation and composition to the manufacturing and packaging must adhere to national standards, so when you get the final product, you can feel confident that it will do what you expect it to. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are regularly inspected by the MHRA to ensure they comply with the high standards required in the UK.

Unlicensed products, meanwhile, can (and are) produced in countless different ways, with some being reasonably clinical but others being extremely unhygienic. Even if the planned ingredients are the same as those used in licensed products, the threat of contamination combined with the potential ramifications of even a change in chemical concentration makes the resulting product a significant health hazard.

Nasty side effects

Because fake diet pills have mysterious ingredients and origins, they can produce some horrendous side effects. Unlicensed weight loss pills can make you feel nauseated, include headaches, or even cause heart attacks — in some cases, they’ve even been known to prove to be fatal.

The best case scenario is generally that the pills don’t do much at all because even licensed pills used under strict directions from qualified medical professionals have side effects that must be understood and mitigated (here's more about Orlistat side effects). With an inferior product and a lack of direction from a suitable authority, you take a massive risk using fake weight loss pills.

Wasted money

As noted, the best you can hope for with unlicensed diet pills is that they don’t cause you any harm — so what’s the point in getting them in the first place?

There are two reasons why someone might order fake diet pills: because they can’t afford (or don’t want) licensed products, or because they don’t meet the criteria for getting (or continuing to use) a legitimate prescription.

In the UK, Orlistat is covered by the NHS when prescribed. Consequently, there’s no financial reason to use unlicensed pills. There is also no medical reason because Orlistat is the only weight loss medication of its kind that is reliable enough to be licensed.

And if you don’t meet the criteria for Orlistat, or it hasn’t achieved the results needed to justify continued treatment, then you shouldn’t be using diet pills of any kind. You should consult a doctor so they can help you find an alternative path. You can start a free consultation with one of our qualified doctors here at the Independent Pharmacy to see if you are eligible to buy Orlistat.

If you think you can save time and money by using unlicensed and/or fake diet pills to lose weight, think again — they’re incredibly dangerous. With unknown ingredients, no quality control, and nasty side effects, they’ll waste your money and possibly cause you harm.

Keep yourself informed with this advice on how to stay safe when buying medicine online.

For some advice about weight loss, get in touch with us today. If weight loss pills are appropriate for you, we’ll give you a prescription and fulfil it with same-day dispatch anywhere in the UK.

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