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FDA Recall on Three Red Yeast Rice Products

By: Diane Joswick, L.Ac., MSOM

FDA is warning consumers not to buy or eat three red yeast rice products promoted and sold on Web sites. The products, being promoted as dietary supplements for treating high cholesterol, may contain an unauthorized drug that could be harmful.

Potentially Harmful Products

    * Red Yeast Rice and Red Yeast Rice/Policosonal Complex, sold by Swanson Healthcare Products, Inc. and manufactured by Nature's Value Inc. and Kabco Inc., respectively.

    * Cholestrix, sold by Suburst Biorganics.

Products Contain Lovastatin

FDA testing revealed the products contain lovastatin, the active ingredient in Mevacor, a prescription drug approved for marketing in the United States as a treatment for high cholesterol.

These red yeast rice products are a threat to health because lovastatin can cause severe muscle problems leading to kidney impairment. This risk is greater in patients who take higher doses of lovastatin or who take lovastatin and other medicines that increase the risk of muscle adverse reactions. These medicines include the antidepressant nefazodone, certain antibiotics, drugs used to treat fungal infections and HIV infections, and other cholesterol-lowering medications.
Warning Letters

FDA has issued warning letters advising Swanson and Sunburst Biorganics to stop promoting and selling the products. Companies that do not resolve violations in FDA warning letters risk enforcement actions, such as an injunction against continuing violations and a seizure of illegal products.

The FDA warning letters state that the products Red Yeast Rice, Red Yeast Rice/Policosonal Complex, and Cholestrix, sold on the firm's Web sites, are unapproved new drugs that are marketed in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

The warning letters are available on FDA's Web site: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/wlcfm/recentfiles.cfm.

Report Problems

FDA advises consumers who use any red yeast rice product to consult their health care provider if they experience problems that may be due to the product.

Report adverse events related to these products to MedWatch, FDA's voluntary reporting program:

    * Online: http://www.fda.gov/medwatch/report.htm
    * Phone: 800-332- 1088
    * Fax: 800-332-0178
    * Mail: MedWatch, FDA, 5600 Fishers Lane , Rockville , MD , 20852-9787

Date Posted: August 10, 2007

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