FDA Says Dietary Supplement Products Are Increasingly Unsafe

FDA laboratory tests have revealed an alarming variety of undeclared active ingredients in products marketed as “dietary supplements.”

In a letter to the supplement manufacturing industry dated December 10, 2010, FDA noted that “products that are marketed as dietary supplements and that contain hidden or deceptively labeled ingredients are often promoted for weight loss, sexual enhancement, and body building. These products not only pose risks to consumers but undermine confidence in legitimately marketed dietary supplements in these and other categories.”

According to the Agency, numerous products available for sale as “dietary supplements” contained substances that are synthetic drugs, including certain banned chemical. Among the chemicals isolated by FDA from “dietary supplements” were anticoagulants (e.g., warfarin), anticonvulsants (e.g., phenytoin), HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (e.g., lovastatin), phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (e.g., sildenafil), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (e.g., indomethacin), and beta blockers (e.g., propranolol). FDA also identified products marketed as dietary supplements that contain active pharmaceutical ingredients previously recalled by the Agency for safety reasons (e.g., Phen-fen), as well as new chemical ingredients of unknown safety. Some products marketed as dietary supplements have been found to contain controlled substances (e.g., benzodiazepines and anabolic steroids).

Michael Levy, director of FDA’s Division of New Drugs and Labeling Compliance, says labeling of these tainted products may claim that they are “alternatives” to FDA-approved drugs, or “legal” alternatives to anabolic steroids.

“Consumers should avoid products marketed as supplements that claim to have effects similar to prescription drugs,” Levy says. “Consumers should also be wary of products with labeling only in a foreign language or that are marketed through mass e-mails.”

In all, consumers should heed these potential warning signs of tainted products marketed as dietary supplements.

  • Products claiming to be alternatives to FDA-approved drugs or to have effects similar to prescription drugs.
  • Products claiming to be a legal alternative to anabolic steroids.
  • Products that are marketed primarily in a foreign language or those that are marketed through mass e-mails.
  • Sexual enhancement products promising rapid effects such as working in minutes to hours, or long-lasting effects such as 24 hours to 72 hours.
  • Products that provide warnings about testing positive in performance enhancement drug tests.

Generally, if you are using or considering using any product marketed as a dietary supplement, FDA suggests that you should:

  • check with your health care professional or a registered dietician on any nutrients you may need in addition to your regular diet
  • ask yourself: Does it sound too good to be true?
  • be cautious if the claims for the product seem exaggerated or unrealistic
  • watch out for extreme claims—for example, “quick and effective,” “cure-all;” “can treat or cure diseases; or “totally safe”
  • be skeptical about anecdotal information from personal “testimonials” about incredible benefits or results obtained from using a product
  • ask your health care professional for help distinguishing between reliable and questionable information

Do I Have a Dietary, Weight Loss or Bodybuilding Supplement Lawsuit?

The trial lawyers at The Senators (Ret.) Firm, LLP have decades of experience litigating and resolving lawsuits and claims all over the United States involving injuries caused by the ingestion of nutritional supplements, weight loss pills, bodybuilding products and many others. If you or someone close to you has suffered injuries that may be related to defective and/or tainted dietary supplements we are here to help ensure that your rights are fully protected.

If you or a loved one has been injured after taking a Dietary, Weight Loss or Bodybuilding Supplement, you should contact our Dietary Supplement Lawyersimmediately by clicking the link below or calling toll free 1-(949) 557-5800. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and we can help.