Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Hundreds of dietary supplements are tainted with unlisted drugs

Study Nearly 800 dietary supplements contained unapproved drug ingredients Study Nearly 800 dietary supplements contained unapproved drug ingredients
Anna Jefferson | 18 October, 2018, 07:43

Most of the adulterated dietary supplements were marketed for sexual enhancement, weight loss, and muscle building.

A dietary supplement that promises to make consumers skinny, without dieting or exercise.

More than 50% of adults use dietary supplements, a $35 billion industry, notes the study.

Furthermore, of the 746 products found to be contaminated, less than half (48%) were recalled as a result, leaving the majority of adulterated supplements available for sale. "Now it's clear that there are well over 1,000 brands of supplements that contain active drugs".

Dietary supplements promising enhanced sexual pleasure, weight loss, and muscle gain secretly contain risky pharmaceuticals, researchers warn.

For sexual enhancement supplements, the most commonly found unapproved drug in the tainted products was sildenafil, better known as the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra. One of the substances found in the supplements was dapoxetine, an antidepressant that is not approved in the United States.

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The FDA has identified the tainted over-the-counter products, but according to new research published Friday in JAMA Network Open, over half the time, the study found, the FDA doesn't enforce recalls of supplements that knowingly include unapproved prescription drug ingredients.

You can read about the methodology and specifics of the report here, Unapproved Pharmaceutical Ingredients Included in Dietary Supplements Associated With US Food and Drug Administration Warnings.

Still, given that none of these products are actually subjected to the same stringent tests reserved for pharmaceutical drugs, it's possible any supplement could contain anything - which is why Cohen advises choosing products that only contain a single ingredient and avoiding products that purport to offer spurious, medical-sounding benefits.

Dr. Pieter A. Cohen of Cambridge Health Alliance in MA said that although the FDA discovered 746 adulterated supplements, it announced voluntary recalls for fewer than half of these products. And nearly all of the muscle-building supps contained synthetic steroids or steroid-like ingredients - the long-term side effects of overuse include liver, kidney, and mental health issues to name just three. "Supplements are not vetted by the FDA, and do not require that any evidence of safety or efficacy is presented to the agency before they are sold to consumers". But the study found that the FDA rarely employed such tools; out of the 146 companies involved in the making of the tainted supplements, the FDA issued just seven warning letters; and did not issue any mandatory recalls. Approximately one-fifth (157) of the products contained more than one adulterant and in two cases, up to six contaminants were identified.

Even after taking action against companies, the FDA sometimes "faces several challenges in deterring fraudulent marketing of these types of products", including relabeling of products to evade detection, Haake wrote.

"These products have the potential to cause severe adverse health effects owing to accidental misuse, overuse, or interaction with other medications, underlying health conditions, or other drugs within the same dietary supplement", wrote the authors, led by Madhur Kumar of the California Department of Public Health Food and Drug branch.

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