From: Daily Mail
Michelle Rumsey thought that dropping a dress size would give her confidence a much-needed boost. At 5ft 5in tall and weighing 9st 6lb, she was hardly overweight, but hated the extra fat she had put on around her middle.
In search of a quick-fix one evening, she came across an internet forum on slimming pills where dieters talked about using a drug called Ephedrine to speed up their metabolism and help them lose weight.
Michelle, now 46, placed an order for the drug online — a decision that was to have tragic consequences. She developed a four-year dependence on the pills, causing a heart condition that has left her with a life expectancy of just ten years.
Dr Ian Campbell, former chair of the National Obesity Forum and honorary clinical director of the charity Weight Concern, warns: ‘The great hopes we had for medication in the past decade have been dashed. My advice is not to use these slimming aids. I wish we had an effective and safe weight-loss medication, but at the moment there is only one — Orlistat.
Ephedrine is a naturally occurring substance with amphetamine-like properties, it is not prescribed as a slimming aid, but is available as an over-the-counter cold remedy. It can increase blood pressure, however, leading to heart disease, anxiety and insomnia. Ephedrine has been associated with stimulant dependence, as well as deaths from heatstroke in athletes and circulatory problems such as aortic aneurysm in weightlifters, though these side effects are rare.
In the UK ephedrine is regulated as a P medicine: it may only be lawfully supplied within a registered pharmacy and while a pharmacist is present. It is not a currently Controlled Drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act. The case reported in the Mail highlights the care that needs to be taken when purchasing medication online or taking medication for reasons other than those intended.