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FDA Questions Safety of Dietary Supplements

Dietary supplements laced with drugs often remain on the market, even when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified them as tainted, a recent study suggests. FDA Dietary Supplement Study

In fact, the FDA has recalled 237 dietary-supplement products because they contained pharmaceutical drugs not listed on the product labels. However, an additional 110 supplements that were known to contain drugs were not recalled. 

The study, conducted by researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, examined Class I drug recalls — serious recalls for which there is a reasonable likelihood that exposure to the product will cause adverse health consequences – and found that even recalled supplements can still be bought by consumers. Consumers ‘flying blind’ when purchasing dietary supplements, expert says

Unlike medical drugs and devices, dietary supplements do not require FDA approval before they are sold to consumers. 

And while dietary supplements are allowed to contain ingredients that supplement the diet — such as vitamins, minerals and herbs — they are not permitted to contain prescription or illegal drugs. 

Published in the JAMA Medical Journal, the findings suggest that even when the FDA tests supplements and discovers prohibited ingredients, the agency doesn’t always remove these dangerous products.

As an example, USA Today reports that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and industry competitors have found amphetamine-like compounds in samples of Craze, a pre-workout powder. As a result, top retailers such E-Bay and Wal-Mart have prohibited sales of the product. Another Web retailer ends sales of supplement Craze

Ultimately, the FDA needs more oversight authority to monitor the dietary supplement industry. JAMA Dietary Supplement Article

For more information about diet supplements, visit FDA Q&A on Dietary Supplements