• Decrease font size
  • Return font size to normal
  • Increase font size
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Scientific Publications by FDA Staff

  • Print
  • Share
  • E-mail

Search Publications



Starting Date

Ending Date

Order by

Entry Details

Am J Public Health 2012 Sep;102(9):1676-86

The Return of Rainbow Diet Pills.

Cohen PA, Goday A, Swann JP


The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently warned consumers about the risks of weight loss supplements adulterated with multiple pharmaceutical agents. Some of these supplements combine potent anorectics, such as amphetamines derivatives, with benzodiazepines, beta-blockers, and other medications to suppress the anorectics' adverse effects. These weight loss supplements represent the most recent generation of rainbow diet pills, named for their bright and varied colors, which date back more than 70 years. Beginning in the 1940s several US pharmaceutical firms aggressively promoted rainbow pills to physicians and patients. By the 1960s the pills had caused dozens of deaths before the FDA began removing them from the US market. We used a variety of original resources to trace these deadly pills from their origins in the United States to their popularity in Spain and Brazil to their reintroduction to the United States as weight loss dietary supplements. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print July 19, 2012: e1-e11. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.300655.).

Category: Journal Article
PubMed ID: #22813089 DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.300655
Includes FDA Authors from Scientific Area(s): Women's Health
Entry Created: 2012-07-21 Entry Last Modified: 2012-10-09