Acute Hepatitis and Liver Failure Following the Use of a Dietary Supplement Intended for Weight Loss or Muscle Building


This warning is important for everyone especially those infected with hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Caution should be used with anything people are taking including prescribed medications, over-the-counter medications, herbs, supplements and vitamins. The key to staying healthy is to always work with your medical provider about what is safe to take and what should be avoided.

Another note of caution: People who are taking HIV or HCV protease inhibitors should not take St. johns wart - it can effect how well these drugs are absorbed into the bloodstream and ultimately affect successful treatment outcome.

Please visit the following links for more information on supplements and HCV:

Hepatitis C and Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

PDF Overview
PDF CAM Information & Finding a Practitioner
PDF HCV & CAM: Dietary Supplements to Avoid
PDF Complementary and Alternative Medicine Resources
PDF Dietary Substances and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
PDF Herbal Dietary Supplements Glossary
PDF Herbs and Dietary Supplements: Making Safer and Wiser Choices
PDF Herbs and Hepatitis C
PDF Self-Help Acupressure for Hepatitis C


Recently, a number of previously healthy individuals developed acute hepatitis and sudden liver failure of unknown cause after using a dietary supplement for weight loss or muscle building. CDC recommends increased vigilance by public health agencies, emergency departments, and healthcare providers for patients who develop acute hepatitis or liver failure following use of a weight loss or muscle building nutritional supplement. CDC requests that state health departments report such occurrences to the CDC. CDC also recommends that, as part of a comprehensive evaluation, clinicians evaluating patients with acute hepatitis should ask about consumption of dietary supplements.


On September 9, 2013, the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) was notified of seven patients with severe acute hepatitis and sudden liver failure of unknown cause. The patients were previously healthy and sought medical care from May through September 2013. Clinicians reported that the seven patients had all used OxyELITE Pro, a dietary supplement marketed for weight loss and muscle gain, prior to illness onset.
The investigation is ongoing and the data presented are preliminary. Thus far, clinicians have reported 45 patients to the Hawaii DOH in response to a public health alert. Of those, 29 patients, including the original seven, were confirmed to have acute hepatitis after using a nutritional supplement for weight loss or muscle building. The median age of the 29 patients is 33 years; 14 (48%) are male. The date of the first reported laboratory test was used as a proxy for illness onset and ranged from May 10 through October 3, 2013. The most commonly reported symptoms included loss of appetite, light-colored stools, dark urine, and jaundice. Median laboratory values reported at the peak of illness were the following:

Ten patients had liver biopsy data available at the time of this report. Seven had histology consistent with hepatitis from drug/toxic injury, with findings including hepatocellular necrosis and cholestasis. Three patients had liver biopsy findings of acute hepatitis associated with other etiologies such as autoimmune hepatitis. Eleven (38%) patients were hospitalized, with a median duration of seven days. One patient died, and two patients received liver transplants. Two remain hospitalized, and all other hospitalized patients have been discharged.

Of the 29 identified patients, 24 (83%) reported using OxyELITE Pro during the 60 days prior to illness onset. There was no other dietary supplement or medication use reported in common by more than two patients.

National case finding efforts have identified several individuals from states outside Hawaii with reported OxyELITE Pro or other weight loss or muscle building dietary supplement use prior to the development of acute hepatitis of unknown cause. CDC, in collaboration with state health departments, is collecting additional clinical and epidemiologic information from these individuals to determine if this outbreak is national in scope.

Case definition

An individual with acute-onset hepatitis of unknown etiology that developed symptoms on or after April 1, 2013 following use of a non-prescription weight loss or muscle building dietary supplement during the 60 days prior to illness onset.
With acute-onset hepatitis of unknown etiology defined as having BOTH:
- ALT > 4 times the upper limit of normal
- Total bilirubin > 2 times the upper limit of normal
-negative workup for infectious or other explicative etiologies for hepatitis. Workup for other potential etiologies should include:


For more information

State public health agencies should contact CDC at (866) 933-5295 if they identify patients who meet the case definition.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protects people's health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national, and international organizations.
Department of Health and Human Services
HAN Message Types
This message was distributed to state and local health officers, state and local epidemiologists, state and local laboratory directors, public information officers, HAN coordinators, and clinician organizations.

Labels: , , ,