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Class Claims Dexatrim Contains Carcinogen

INDIANAPOLIS (CN) - A federal class action claims that Dexatrim weight loss pills contain carcinogenic hexavalent chromium - and don't even help you lose weight. The class adds that the drugmaker, Chattem, does not list the carcinogen in the ingredients, though it knows or should know of its presence.

The two named plaintiffs claim that in March this year an independent lab - ConsumerLab.com - reported that Dexatrim contains hexavalent chromium. ConsumerLab tested "various weight loss supplements, including Dexatrim, to determine whether the products met the claims on the labels regarding the ingredients, and moreover, whether the products contained any harmful ingredients," according to the complaint.

"Among other things, the report states that Dexatrim was contaminated with the hazardous chemical hexavalent chromium, also referred to as Cr(VI) in the amounts of 1.6 to 3.3 mcg."

The complaint claims that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that exposure to hexavalent chromium can increase the risk of lung cancer, and that "other adverse health effects associated with Cr(VI) exposure include dermal irritation, skin ulceration, allergic contact dermatitis, occupational asthma, nasal irritation and ulceration, perforated nasal septa, rhinitis, nosebleed, respiratory irritation, nasal cancer, sinus cancer, eye irritation and damage, perforated eardrums, kidney damage, liver damage, pulmonary congestion and edema, epigastric pain, and erosion and discoloration of the teeth."

The complaint adds: "The [ConsumerLab] report further concludes that Dexatrim contains 'a tea blend and ginseng, which may provide an "energizing" feeling, but [are] not known to cause wright loss,' and also 'contains many B vitamins and iodine which, although needed for metabolism, will not cause weight loss.'" (Brackets in complaint.)

And, the complaint states: "Although Chattem goes to great lengths to promote the healthfulness and safety of Dexatrim, none of Chattem's promotional materials or labels disclosed the fact the Dexatrim contains hexavalent chromium, or provided any warning concerning the potential adverse health effects associated with ingestion of the hazardous chemical."

As a diet supplement, Dexatrim is loosely regulated, if at all, by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The Dexatrim brand "has suffered dramatic sales losses in recent years," according to the Nutrition Business Journal, which reported that Chattem's "wholesale supplement sales in the United States totaled $19.5 million in its fiscal year 2008."

The class seeks damages for deceptive sales practices, breach of warranty, intentional misrepresentation and unjust enrichment, and also wants the company ordered to correct its advertising.

Its lead counsel is William Riley with Price Waicukauski & Riley.

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