Woman Left with Heart Condition from Fake Diet Pills Bought Online

Many people struggle to lose weight, and under a doctor’s supervision, diet pills can be a safe and effective way to reach your goal. Some people, like Elna Baker, are so afraid of regaining the weight that they continue taking the pills by purchasing them while in other countries or ordering them from online pharmacies. While Ms. Baker admits that the stuff she purchases online “is fake and doesn’t work as well,” a woman in the U.K. was left with life-altering consequences from the fake diet pills she bought online.

A young woman from Manchester, England has permanent heart damage after taking counterfeit dieting pills that she purchased on the internet, as reported by the BBC and Manchester Evening News. Natalie-Jade Magill was just 18 years-old when she decided to lose some weight. Doing a quick Google search, she “came across this one website that was selling them really cheap, £20 for 60 pills which was enough for two months. The reviews looked good, people saying how amazing they were and how well they’d worked, so I took that as meaning they were okay. I never once questioned what was in them.”

Just a week after she began taking the pills, Magill started to have heart palpitations and felt shaky and always thirsty, reports the Manchester Evening News. After four weeks of taking the pills, she lost the weight she had wanted to, but even after she stopped taking the pills, the side effects continued. Two years later, Magill collapsed in her home. An ambulance took her to the hospital and doctors said her heart rate was so fast it was like she drank 30 cups of coffee every day. For the next four years, she was on medication to control her symptoms and underwent regular heart monitoring. Eight years after she stopped taking the pills, she still suffers from the occasional heart murmur.

Pills like the ones that Magill bought, along with many other fake drugs, are increasingly available online by rogue Internet pharmacy websites. The U.K. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which regulates medicines in the U.K., took down more than 4,000 websites selling counterfeit medicines in 2016. That is over a threefold increase from the previous year. In 2016 alone, Interpol seized over $17.6m worth of fake medicines and medical devices, including more than 300,000 counterfeit dieting pills.