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The FDA Flagged Almost 800 Supplements – Here’s Why - Carlos Gamino
News from Attorney Carlos Gamino

Supplements May Contain Dangerous Drugs

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By Carlos Gamino

If you’re like most Americans, you’ve taken your share of supplements – vitamins, weight loss pills and muscle-building powders, and other over-the-counter dietary supplements.

But between 2007 and 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration flagged about 800 of these supplements because they were tainted with potentially harmful drugs. The FDA maintains a public database of tainted supplements and details the “hidden ingredients” in each.

Fewer than half of these tainted supplements were recalled. The rest remained on the market.

Now, the FDA says there are more than 85,000 supplements available in the U.S. and the agency can’t test them all. And even if the FDA could test all of them, supplements aren’t subject to the same regulations that pharmaceutical drugs are. All the FDA can do when it finds tainted supplements is issue a public warning and suggest the manufacturer voluntarily recall the product.

Some supplements are more dangerous than others are. In fact, a study published in 2015 estimated that there are about 23,000 emergency room visits every year associated with dietary supplement use. The Drug-Induced Livery Injury Network runs a registry that claims that dietary supplements cause about 20 percent of those types of injuries.

“The law allows companies to advertise supplements as if they’re good for your health, even if there’s no evidence in humans that that’s the case,” says general internist Pieter Cohen of Cambridge Health Alliance. He advises steering clear of any supplements that make promises.

The problem: Dietary supplements can contain Viagra, steroids and more. The FDA has found them tainted with antidepressants, generic prescription weight loss drugs, and other dangerous drugs that you should never use without consulting your doctor. 

What Do You Think?

Do you take supplements? Have you ever checked the FDA’s database to find out if the supplements you take are tainted? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to share them on  my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino