Health & Fitness

The docs offer advice: Beware unapproved drugs on market

Vinpocetine and picamilon are drugs prescribed in several countries to treat cerebrovascular disorders and cognitive impairment, but in the U.S. they’ve never presented adequate data to be approved for prescription-drug sales. Instead, drug manufacturers market them as botanical supplements (which don’t need FDA approval) to promote weight loss and as brain and performance enhancers.

Researchers, including Harvard’s Pieter Cohen, M.D., have discovered vinpocetine in around 300 nonprescription products and picamilon in 31 supplements, all available for sale directly to consumers.

Writing in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Dr. Cohen explains that, “The FDA may have assumed that vinpocetine was a botanical extract, but it is not... to my knowledge, vinpocetine itself has never been identified in lesser periwinkle or any other plant.” And to make matters worse, in the various supplements the researchers tested, doses of both drugs were all over the place — from nonexistent to far too much — and rarely reflected what the label said was provided. So we suggest that you avoid these two ingredients, and if you want to lose weight, think more clearly or have more athletic zip, upgrade your diet by ditching the Five Food Felons and get seven to eight hours of sleep nightly.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.