* Weight-loss products linked to liver damage
* Two supplements can still be sold
By Lisa Richwine
WASHINGTON The maker of the widely sold Hydroxycut weight-loss supplements is recalling 14 products after reports of liver damage and one death, U.S. health officials said on Friday.
The Food and Drug Administration urged consumers to immediately stop using the recalled products, which are made by Iovate Health Sciences Inc and marketed for weight loss, boosting energy and other uses.
"The FDA urges consumers to discontinue use of Hydroxycut products in order to avoid any undue risk. Adverse events are rare, but exist," said Dr. Linda Katz, interim chief medical officer in the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
The agency has received 23 reports of liver problems ranging from jaundice to damage that required a liver transplant, Katz said. One person died.
Other reports also documented seizures, cardiovascular disorders and rhabdomyolysis, a type of muscle damage that can lead to kidney failure, the FDA said.
A message on the voice mail for Iovate Health Sciences in Ontario, Canada said the products were being recalled. Company officials could not be reached for further comment.
The company agreed to voluntarily pull the 14 products even though the FDA has not seen reports of serious harm with all of them, Katz said. Agency officials are investigating which doses and ingredients may be harmful, she said.
Two products with different ingredients, Hydroxycut Cleanse and Hoodia, were not included in the recall.
The recalled products contain a variety of ingredients including herbal extracts. They are sold as dietary supplements, which do not require the evidence of safety and effectiveness needed for medicines before they can be sold.
Critics say supplements need more oversight.
A 2007 law required manufacturers to turn over reports of problems with consumers, helping the FDA better monitor potential side effects, agency officials said.
"These reports are vital in helping FDA identify unsafe dietary supplements," said Vasilios Frankos, head of the FDA's Division of Dietary Supplement Programs.
People who took the recalled products should consult a doctor if they have symptoms of liver injury such as nausea, vomiting, light-colored stools, excessive fatigue, weakness, stomach pain, itching or loss of appetite, the FDA said.
The recalled products include Hydroxycut Regular Rapid Release Caplets, Hydroxycut Carb Control and Hydroxycut Max Drink Packets. A full list was included in the FDA announcement here
(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Steve Orlofsky, Leslie Gevirtz)