FDA warns:Do not useHydroxycut

WASHINGTON — Government health officials warned dieters and body builders Friday to immediately stop using Hydroxycut, a widely sold supplement linked to cases of serious liver damage and at least one death.

The Food and Drug Administration said the company that makes the dietary supplement has agreed to recall 14 Hydroxycut products.

Available in grocery stores and pharmacies, Hydroxycut is advertised as made from natural ingredients. At least 9 million packages were sold last year, the FDA said.

Dr. Linda Katz of the FDA’s food and nutrition division said the agency has received 23 reports of liver problems, including the death of a 19-year-old boy living in the Southwest.

The teenager died in 2007, and the death was reported to the FDA this March.

Other patients experienced symptoms ranging from jaundice, or yellowing of the skin, to liver failure.

One received a transplant and another was placed on a list to await a new liver.

The patients were otherwise healthy and their symptoms began after they started using Hydroxycut, regulators said.

Iovate Health Sciences, which makes the diet pills, said in a statement that the 2007 death of the teenager was not caused by Hydroxycut. The statement gave no details.

On its Web site, the company said it agreed to the recall out of “an abundance of caution.”

Iovate is based in Canada, with U.S. offices near Buffalo, N.Y. Consumers can get a refund by returning the pills to the store that sold them, the company said.