Diet supplement linked to 32 cases of liver disease in HawaiiUPDATED 7:19 PM HST Oct 10, 2013Video Transcript
only common link appears to be a dietary supplement. Good evening, I'm Yunji de Nies, in for Paula Akana. There are now 32 cases of liver disease in Hawaii, and physicians say most of the patients were completely healthy before taking OxyELITE Pro. KITV4's Andrew Pereira joins us with tonight's top story at 5. Andrew? Yunji, so far two of the 32 patients have received liver transplants, and there may be more to come. For doctors treating a cluster of patients suffering from liver disease, the cause is still a head scratcher. DR. LINDA WONG: "CAN I TELL YOU IF IT'S ONE SPECIFIC DRUG? I COULDN'T TELL YOU. I MEAN IT MIGHT BE SOMETHING IN THE RACE, IT MIGHT BE AN ETHNICITY THAT HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH IT 154 YOU KNOW IT MIGHT BE GENETIC." The state Health Department says while no firm link has been established to OxyELITE Pro, 24 of the 32 patients were taking the dietary supplement. DR. LINDA WONG: "IT TOTALLY DESTROYS ALL THE LIVER CELLS. SO, WHATEVER IT IS THAT'S CAUSING THIS JUST DESTROYED ALL THE LIVER CELLS, AND IT'S HAVING EFFECTS ON THE REST OF THE BODY." Doctors were also surprised as to why some patients were taking OxyELITE Pro. Some say it was for an energy boost, not weight loss or muscle gain. DR. MARINA ROYTMAN: "SO, THERE'S A HUGE SEGMENT OF THE POPULATION THAT'S TAKING THIS MEDICATION FOR THE PURPOSE THAT WAS REALLY NOT ORIGINALLY DESIGNED FOR." DR. LINDA WONG: "SOME OF THEM THAT ARE A LITTLE BIT MORE, YOU KNOW NOT SO SICK, SOME OF THEM ARE PRETTY ANGRY." Unlike prescription medicine or over-the-counter drugs, dietary supplements don't receive the same government scrutiny. Doctors say that's a major problem. DR. NAOKY TSAI: "AS A MEDICAL MAN I PRESCRIBE MEDICINE, BUT MY ADVICE IS 911 DON'T TAKE IT IF YOU DON'T NEED IT." So far two patients have received liver transplants, but there are several others that may be put on a waiting list for a new liver. DR. LINDA WONG: "YOU JUST HAVE TO WAIT FOR YOUR LIVER TO SEE IF IT CAN REGENERATE ENOUGH TO FIX ITSELF." ANDREW PEREIRA: "AND DOCTORS HERE AT THE QUEEN'S MEDICAL CENTER DON'T BELIEVE THE OUTBREAK OF LIVER DISEASE IS OVER. THEY EXPECT TO SEE MORE CASES IN THE COMING DAYS AND WEEKS." DR. LINDA WONG: "YEAH THERE'S MORE, YEAH 628 THEY'RE SCHEDULING APPOINTMENTS IN THE OFFICE NOW EVEN." The mysterious outbreak even has one doctor calling on action by members of Congress. DR. NAOKY TSAI: "I REALLY THINK THAT IT'S VERY IMPORTANT THAT OUR CONGRESS WILL ACT TO MAKE SURE THAT WHATEVER THOSE SUPPLEMENTS THEY PUT UNDER THE SAME STANDARD AS THE DRUG THAT WE USE." The Food and Drug Administration is still in the early stages of ITS investigation, which involves reviewing medical records as well as laboratory analysis of OxyELITE Pro. FDA investigators are also reviewing production and distribution records from USPlabs, the maker of OxyELITE Pro, which maintains the product is safe. Yunji back to you.