South Florida Man Blames Liver Disease on Weight Loss Product

Eric Rizzo says he took Oxy Elite Pro to help him drop pounds

By Willard Shepard
|  Thursday, Feb 6, 2014  |  Updated 12:56 AM EDT
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A South Florida man who was out to shed some pounds is now fighting liver disease – and he blames it on a weight loss product. NBC 6's Willard Shepard reports.

A South Florida man who was out to shed some pounds is now fighting liver disease – and he blames it on a weight loss product. NBC 6's Willard Shepard reports.

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A South Florida man who was out to shed some pounds is now fighting liver disease – and he blames it on a weight loss product.

Eric Rizzo told NBC 6 his life took a terrible turn when he decided to take a product he claims to have purchased at two outlets of The Vitamin Shoppe. It is called Oxy Elite Pro, and Rizzo said he took the product, in both powder and pill form, to help him drop pounds.

“I was assured it was safe as long as you exercised. I had energy, I was losing more weight,” he said.

Rizzo said he lost more than 50 pounds, and was getting in exercise – but then he got sick. His lab test prompted his doctors to take immediate action.

“You’re perfectly healthy, but your liver is in complete failure,” Rizzo recalls being told.

Now, he is suing The Vitamin Shoppe and USPlabs, the company that makes the weight loss supplement.

“It can cause death. It can cause the need to have your liver replaced. Or it can cause permanent liver damage,” said Rizzo’s attorney Mike Eidson. “And you can see it, when you see my client you can see his eyes, you can see that he's still suffering the consequences of this and probably will for the rest of his life.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had been sending warning letters to Oxy Elite Pro’s maker, which recalled the product in November. But Rizzo’s lawyer says his client was still able to buy it in Fort Lauderdale after the recall.

“I couldn’t find it in the store, and the salesgirl had taken it out from underneath the counter and sold me two,” Rizzo said.

Dr. Kenneth F. Miles, USPlabs’ chief compliance officer, has written to the FDA that the supplements “do not present a significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury to consumers.”

USPlabs did not respond to a request for comment on the litigation Wednesday. The Vitamin Shoppe also did not respond to a request for comment.

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