Monday, February 9, 2015

What's In That Bottle?

What's In That Bottle??
In the news recently, there have been reports that the New York State attorney general’s office has sent cease-and desist orders against GNC, Target, Walgreens, & Walmart.  Testing revealed that four out of five supplements purchased , did not contain the labeled product.  The impetus was a 2013 investigation by Canadian investigators reported by the  New York Times.

DSHEA 1994   How can this happen in 2015?  The reason is that herbal products are classified as dietary supplements, and are exempt from the FDA oversight that applies to prescription medications.  The Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act (DSHEA) 1994 was gutted by the heavy lobbying by the supplements industry.

The result is that these products - food supplements -  can be pulled only after numerous complaints that show “significant or unreasonable risk”,  according to David Kessler, then commissioner of the FDA.  Companies are only required to adhere to a set of good manufacturing  practices, which insure that there is no adulteration.  No proof of efficacy or safety is needed, since these products are classified as foods instead of drugs.  FDA approval is NOT needed before manufacturing or marketing.

Bottom lineBuyer Beware!  When the herbal equivalent of a prescription drug (red rice yeast for a cholesterol lowering statin) can be marketed freely, there’s a problem with the regulation.  Hopefully, the NY State Attorney General’s actions will lead to changes in the legislation that will spread to other states.

Verify As Much As You Can  Granted there are some herbal products that might be helpful for certain conditions.  What to do?  Look for third party verification from or another party.  This is a subscription site, but worth the money if you take supplements regularly.  ConsumerLab tests products and reviews whatever scientific studies there are. Their supplement reports will tell you what, if any, supporting evidence there is for the usage and how strong that evidence is.  They accept no advertising, but will accept fees for use of their CL Tested logo, if a product is deemed acceptable.

References:  NYTimes 2013 Article
©Feb, 2015, Fitness Spark Personal Training

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