Slim 10 (Chinese: 御芝堂; pinyin: Yuzhitang) was a popular dieting pill produced by Yuzhitang Health Products of Guangdong, People's Republic of China. In 2002, the product gained notoriety for cases of thyroid problems, liver failure, and deaths in Asia as a result of its consumption.
The product label claimed that the ingredients contained only natural extracts, and was originally cleared for sale by authorities. It was tested and found to contain fenfluramine and nicotinamide that was banned by authorities in several Asian countries but had not been discovered in previous tests—the authorities then ordered the product to be pulled from their shelves and conducted criminal investigation. Fenfluramine is a substance that was first outlawed in the United States due to associations with severe health hazards.
Cases in Singapore
In Singapore, a high-profile liver failure of female television personality Andrea De Cruz sent shockwaves across its local television industry, leading to a few lawsuits being filed. She eventually won S$900,000 (US$521,460) in damages against the distributor and importer. One woman, Selvarani Raja, died after suffering from liver failure. De Cruz was saved after receiving an emergency transplant from boyfriend (now husband) and actor Pierre Png, who donated half of his liver. Japan authorities reported four deaths resulting from the consumption of pill, and half of the 64 reported illnesses relating to liver or thyroid requiring hospitalization.
Consequences of the product's side-effects highlighted the issue of Asian women being under immense societal pressure to lose weight at any costs, and its countries' review of regulations within the slimming and pharmaceuticals industries. In its aftermath, Singapore tested all its 45 slimming products for any potentially dangerous ingredients. The spotlight was also shone on Chinese health products, which was exported and sold cheaply and largely unregulated across Asia in pharmacies, beauty parlors and spas. The manufacturer defended that the products linked to the incidents were the result of imitations. Its company's manufacturing license was eventually revoked by the Chinese government after Slim 10 was linked to one of its own citizen's death in Guangdong.
- "Chinese diet pill casualties mount", Cable News Network (staff/wires), 21 July 2002
- "Asia's Killer Diet Pills", Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, TIME Magazine, 5 August 2002
- "Diet pill linked to further deaths", BBC News, 19 July 2002
- "Therapeutic Goods Administration News Issue 39", Therapeutic Goods Administration (Government of Australia), November 2002
- "Sad tale of death, suffering and ethics", Seah Chiang Nee, Little Speck, 17 June 2002
- "Deadly Diets - Asian Women Die After Taking Deadly Chinese Diet Pills", Kenji Hall, Associated Press for CBS News, 19 July 2002
- "Singapore presenter sues over diet pill", BBC News, 26 June 2002
- "Singapore court awards actress S$900,000 in slimming pill case", Kyodo News, 4 October 2003
- "Singapore star in diet pill suit", BBC News, 24 June 2003
- "Diet pill alert hits Japan", BBC News, 12 July 2002
- "Dying to be thin in Singapore", David Bottomley, BBC News, 10 June 2002
- "China bans liver risk diet pill", BBC News, 13 July 2002