Belgrade, Serbia (VIAnews) – The Laboratory for Instrumental Analysis at the Faculty of Chemistry in Belgrade recently discovered a horrible truth about an allegedly 100% natural losing weight product.

Instead of plant extracts from bamboo and Job’s-tears, the “Slim Line“ pills contain pure fluoxetine chloride, commonly known by its trade name, Prozac.

"Slim line" product, soft gels.
“Slim line” product, soft gels.

The scientists isolated around 10 mg of Prozac per pill, which is half the dose used to treat: severe depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bulimia, anorexia, and other mental illnesses within neuroses specter.

The Faculty of Chemistry made the discovery by accident. One of the employees was curious about the content of the pills that her friend was using to lose weight, so she bought a box of pills and started testing.

Dr. Ljubodrag Vujisic, a Ph.D. assistant professor at the Belgrade’s Faculty of Chemistry, ran the tests and said it was not easy to isolate fluoxetine chloride since they had no idea what to look for. “First, we separated the oily substance from the jelly matter. Then, we isolated the liquid part from the oil. We found a molecule of something and we ran it through the base and got a 100% match with the fluoxetine molecule”, he said.

Dr. Ljubodrag Vujisic
Dr. Ljubodrag Vujisic, a Ph.D. assistant professor at the Belgrade’s Faculty of Chemistry found Antidepressants in losing weight supplements.

The next step was reporting the findings to the Public Health Institute in Belgrade. Three weeks later the institute confirmed the results.

Right now, there is an investigation on the distribution company “Slim Line Club” which imports these pills and sells them online. They have already pulled out the pills, but they sell many other losing weight products like shakes and powders which nobody knows what they may contain.

The general manager of “Slim Line Club”, Dragan Borisic, gave a public statement in which he claims that the company didn’t know what was on the pills and they will cooperate with all institutions in this case.

Still, there is a suspicion that “Slim Line Club” has not only jeopardized the health of their customers but also ripped them off. Alleged accusations include importing pills from China, paying $1 to $5 per box and reselling them on Serbian market for $50 per box. “Slim Line Club” is a company registered to trade products online, which makes their business legal, but they are still not allowed to trade illegal products.

The “Slim Line Club” case can only be possible within the Serbian regulation in which producers go through a strict and time-consuming quality control when placing a medicine in the market. In case of dietary supplements though, the situation is completely different. Products are only tested for bacteria and heavy metals and once cleared for both, they instantly get trade permission. Everything else which is included in the product is left at the producer responsibility.

Serbian Internet forums are full of testimonies by women who used “Slim Line”. They all say that the product stopped working after a month, which is a common effect of fluoxetine. The biggest problem is reports made by women who breastfeed and wanted to lose weight fast after the pregnancy. The legal instructions for fluoxetine products refer needed precautions during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The substance can cause damage to the fetus and slow down the growth of the newborns.

Likewise, any antidepressant is dangerous for the teenage population because it increases suicidal behavior. If used without medical supervision, fluoxetine can cause serious liver damage (according to US Medical journals data, antidepressants cause 5% of all registered liver intoxication). Another danger is withdrawal syndrome which appears when a user goes “cold turkey” on fluoxetine. Some studies show that withdrawal syndrome can last from 2 weeks up to 3 months or longer. The possible symptoms are nausea, dizziness, anxiety and finally – depression.

It’s not the first time that the Faculty of Chemistry finds out something very wrong about dietary supplements. Three years ago they discovered that Viagra and Cialis, two famous medicines for erectile dysfunction, had similar circumstances. Meaning, a Serbian distributor, a Chinese producer, an alleged 100% natural product, and sold exclusively online, just like “Slime Line” pills.

No one was yet made responsible since the distributor claimed that they trusted the product declaration and could not know what was really in the product.

The only way to stop this from happening is through a change of regulation. This change is likely to happen as soon as Serbia opens the negotiation chapters about health and food safety within the EU accession process. Possibly, only when the Serbian legislation and EU standards align, will the abuse of synthetic substances in dietary supplements end.