A 33-year-old Cleveland woman is in an area hospital recovering from liver damage after taking OxyElite Pro, a controversial weight-loss supplement that was recently recalled nationwide. Phetsamone Senevoravong started using OxyElite Pro several months back in an attempt to lose weight to impress a man, but instead became increasingly ill, suffering from fatigue, nausea, and jaundice. After weeks of the unexplained symptoms, Senevoravong finally went to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with liver damage. Her doctors identified OxyElite Pro as the likely cause of her injuries.
OxyElite Pro Lawsuit Update 4/16/14: Earlier this month, a panel of federal judges denied a motion by the makers of OxyElite Pro and Jack3d to transfer and consolidate a number of products liability lawsuits to federal court in Philadelphia. The litigation contends that the supplements contained altered ingredients that were unsafe and unapproved by the FDA, leading to a nationwide hepatitis outbreak. Click here to learn more.
Free OxyElite Pro Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one has been injured by OxyElite Pro, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit against the manufacturer of OxyElite Pro and we can help.
What’s the Problem?
Senevoravong, who is known to her friends as Samone, is recovering at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, awaiting the results of a liver biopsy that will determine whether she will require further treatment. She’s nervous, but is steadfastly optimistic about how she’ll fare: Samone believes in the power of positive thinking.
“Right now it’s a waiting game to see if my liver can recover,” she said. “It’s going to recover.”
At first, it wasn’t clear to Senevoravong that OxyElite Pro had anything to do with her failing health. She started using OxyElite Pro in June, after a workout partner gave her a pill to sample. When she went to buy her own at GNC, an employee mentioned some trouble with the pills, and that the formula her partner had shared wasn’t on the market anymore. There was a new version available, though.
The problem the GNC employee referred to was the U.S. military’s ban of DMAA-containing dietary supplements like OxyElite Pro after two soldiers died of heart attacks during routine exercises.
“They were misusing it, and they took a whole bunch of it under like 100-degree weather,” Senevoravong said. She assumed it was safe to try the new OxyElite Pro, since the product no longer contained DMAA.
As part of her new workout routine, which also included jogging and a healthy diet, Senevoravong took between four and 10 OxyElite Pro pills per week. It was at the end of September, during a trip to Maryland that she began experiencing unexplained symptoms. After a night out on the town, she woke up lethargic and with a headache. To wake herself up, she popped some OxyElite Pro.
“They had a caffeine-like effect on me,” Senevoravong said. “I never took it to help me lift weights or to help me keep muscles. I’d use it in the morning to get me going.”
Despite her increasingly severe symptoms, it took another few months for Senevoravong to finally make it to the hospital. During the weeks leading up to her hospitalization, she became increasingly fatigued and nauseated, and started noticing her eyes yellowing. She thought maybe it was because she was tired.
“I tried to make excuses for myself all the time,” she said. “I thought it was the weather, or depression.”
A friend finally drove from Akron and dragged Senevoravong to the emergency room. She was transferred to Parma Community General Hospital and then to UH Case. Three days later, her doctors believed they had pinpointed the probable cause of her illness. She’d answered countless questions about the medications she was taking, but hadn’t mentioned OxyElite Pro.
Senevoravong was scheduled to have her gallbladder removed when a liver specialist asked her again about her medication history. This time, she admitted to taking OxyElite Pro.
“Something told me to tell him I was taking it,” she said. The specialist told her OxyElite Pro had been recalled because of liver illnesses.
The next day, Senevoravong’s doctor made a call to health officials in Hawaii to talk about the outbreak of liver failure cases there. He said dietary supplement complications like these are very uncommon, so pinning symptoms or illnesses to their use is very difficult. A cluster of cases is usually what draws the attention of the FDA or the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), he said.
“The FDA does not restrict food additives, and all of these things are considered food additives,” said Dr. Stanley Cohen, Senevoravong’s doctor and medical director of hepatology at UH Case. “It doesn’t mean that they don’t work, it just means that we don’t have the science behind them to know, and that’s our biggest concern about these things.”
Cohen said there’s a real chance of the need for a liver transplant in cases like Senevoravong’s, where there the patient has jaundice and certain liver abnormalities. Between 10 and 30% of these patients will need a transplant or could die.
Senevoravong refuses to even entertain those thoughts.
“I’m trying to keep a positive spirit,” she said. “If I start to cry and feel bad for myself, my body’s going to take a turn. As long as I keep the good, positive energy and spirit, it’s going to go well.”
OxyElite Pro Liver Failure Outbreak Still Under Investigation
In a letter dated November 6, the FDA informed USPlabs – the company that makes OxyElite Pro – that it is still investigating at least 36 cases of acute hepatitis that have been linked to the supplement over the past six months. At least two patients were required to undergo liver transplant surgeries, and one woman – a 48-year-old mother of seven – died from her injuries. The investigation into the hepatitis outbreak is a collaboration between the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH), FDA, and the CDC.
Do I Have an OxyElite Pro Lawsuit?
The Product Liability & Defective Drug Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in OxyElite Pro lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new OxyElite Pro injury and death cases in all 50 states.
Free OxyElite Pro Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one has been injured by OxyElite Pro, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing an OxyElite Pro Suit and we can help.