Dangers of dietary supplements spotlighted

Posted 19 February 2020

Michael White, a professor of pharmacy at the University of Connecticut, has summarized how consumers are endangered by the U.S. dietary supplement marketplace. The problems include (a) microbial contamination, (b) heavy metal contamination, (c) prescription drug adulteration, (d) herb substitutions, (e) added ingredients to herbal products, and (f) inaccurate labeling of ingredient dosages. He blames the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994, which allows supplement and herbal products to be marketed without providing proof of their quality to the Food and Drug Administration. Reference: White CM. Dietary supplements pose real dangers to patients. Annals of Pharmacotherapy. Jan 24, 2020

Calling the situation a “Wild West scenario,” White concludes:

The DSHEA Act was written to limit the FDA’s oversight of dietary products, and it has done just that. Health professional and consumer advocacy organizations need to come together and with one voice sound the alarm and unequivocally call on Congress to take action to prevent the inadvertent poisoning of our populace. We should not wait until another “thalidomide moment” occurs before we act. An easy amendment would require independent third-party laboratory verification of a sample of every new product before being sold in the United States, with periodic spot checking of products on the shelves. Manufacturers would have to pay for this testing and would not be able to manipulate or suppress the results.

DSHEA also enables sellers to make misleading claims about the usefulness of their products.
Reference: Barrett S. How the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act weakened the FDA. Quackwatch, Feb 16, 2020

Source: Consumer Health Digest #20-07, February 16, 2020

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