The consumer watchdog Which? has found that “potentially dangerous” diet pills are being sold online and is calling for retailers to take greater legal responsibility over the safety of products on their websites.
According to Which?, weight loss items sold on eBay, Wish, and AliExpress have ingredients that can lead to several concerning side effects, such as increased blood pressure and heart rate. High doses of the drugs could lead to strokes, heart attacks and kidney damage.
The two ingredients in question - yohimbine and synephrine – are extracted from herbs and are among those that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has said have “considerable potential to cause harm if used without medical supervision or advice.”
Out of the nine products looked at by Which?, two carried no health warnings or dosage information.
Each online marketplace looked at by the consumer watch dog had at least 12 products listed on their websites that included either yohimbine or synephrine at the time of the investigation.
In response to the investigation, eBay and AliExpress have confirmed that they had removed the product listings found by Which?.
Meanwhile, Wish said it was in the process of removing them.
Sue Davies, Which? Head of Consumer Protection Policy, said: “It is concerning that our investigation has revealed these slimming supplements containing potentially dangerous ingredients are readily available on online marketplaces.
“Online marketplaces must be given greater legal responsibility for the safety of products sold on their sites, so that shoppers are far better protected.
“Regulators also need to be more proactive in policing potentially dangerous products that are offered for sale on these sites, which are becoming increasingly popular places to shop.”
An eBay spokesperson added: “We take the safety of our users extremely seriously and work closely with the MHRA to help ensure sellers and listings on eBay comply with laws and regulations.
“These items are banned from eBay’s platform and have been removed. eBay sellers must comply with the law. eBay sellers are prohibited from listing prescription drugs, in line with rules set by MHRA.
“In addition to our own prevention teams and technology, eBay works closely with the MHRA and other regulators across the globe who directly report and remove listings of concern. Sometimes opportunistic sellers attempt to circumvent our filters, but when they do our policy teams remove the listings quickly.”