The hidden drugs in your favourite supplements

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Posted 11 January 2016

This article written by Julia Belluz and Soo Oh and published in Vox on 6 January 2016, argues that when you take a prescription drug in the United States, you can be reasonably sure of what’s in it. “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that all pharmaceuticals be thoroughly tested in humans, that they contain whatever ingredients are listed on the label, and that they have evidence to back their marketing claims”.

But the same is unfortunately not true for dietary supplements, and that these are barely regulated. “Supplement makers don’t need to prove their products are safe or even effective before putting them on store shelves. And while supplements are supposed to be accurately labeled, a Vox review of government databases, court documents, and scientific studies uncovered more than 850 products that contained illegal and/or hidden ingredients — including banned drugs, pharmaceuticals like antidepressants, and other synthetic chemicals that have never been tested on humans”.

The article lists examples of weight loss supplements spiked with cancer-causing drugs that had been pulled from the US market, and brain enhancers laced with chemicals that have never been approved for sale in the US. “More than 100 products contained DMAA, a drug that’s been banned in the US, UK, and several other countries because it is linked to strokes, heart failure, and sudden death”.

The situation is likely much worse for South Africa.

Read the article at Vox

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