Young mother dies after 'taking dodgy diet pills sold on Facebook'

Diet pill brands with a similar formula have been banned by Mexico’s national health regulator

Katie Forster
Wednesday 05 July 2017 16:12 BST
Lucero Garza
Lucero Garza

A young mother from Mexico has died after reportedly taking lethal diet pills sold online.

Lucero Garza, 24, took the tablets called ‘Avitia Cobrax’ for around a month, her friends said. The pills were sold as a natural weight loss treatment on sites including Facebook.

She fell into a coma after experiencing severe headaches and was taken to hospital where she stopped breathing, according to major Mexican newspaper El Universal.

Ms Garza, who is married and has a one-year-old daughter, died last weekend when doctors turned off her life support after six days in intensive care.

She is said to have taken the pills in the hope of losing weight gained during pregnancy without consulting a doctor, as they were marketed as a natural treatment.

The health department of Nuevo Leon, the Mexican state where Ms Garza lived in the city of Monterrey, has said it will increase its vigilance against so-called “miracle products” sold online.

A friend of Ms Garza, whose Facebook name is “Lucy Trendy”, wrote on the social network that doctors treating her had detected “inflammation” in the brain, which they attributed to the tablets.

Pages promoting the pills have since been removed from online marketplaces and social media, but screenshots obtained by Mexican media show the tablets, which cost around 1,000 to 1,500 pesos per bottle (£42 to £64), advertised as a “natural method” to lose weight.

A description of the Avitia Cobrax pills indicates they use “heat” to “reduce the percentage of body fat without reducing muscle”, advising users to make sure they stay hydrated when taking them.

Listed ingredients of the product reportedly include alpha lipoic acid, conjugated linoleic acid, vitamin C, minerals, green tea, calcium, potassium, bitter melon, ginger and “jamaica flower”.

Other diet pill brands with a similar formula, such as one called Thermatrim, have been banned by Mexico’s national health regulator Cofepris since 2014.

A tweet posed the day after Ms Garza’s death by Cofepris said: “Medicines sold online and on the street are a risk to your health. Buy them in legal establishments. Don't put yourself at risk.”

"There is no guarantee that they are original without knowing where they came from. They could be stolen or non-standard, and their consumption could aggravate a health condition, putting a patient at risk," added the agency.

The UK Government launched a campaign last summer to warn people of the dangers of buying “dodgy diet pills” online.

In 2015, Interpol issued a global alert over diet tablets containing the banned chemical dinitrophenol (DNP), believed to be responsible for the deaths of six young British citizens.

DNP is illegal for human consumption in Britain but can be sold legally as a pesticide.

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