WSJ: The Illegal Ingredients in Your Dietary Supplements
Below is an excerpt from the Wall Street Journal on the dangers of untested and unregulated supplements (and the drugs they might contain!) This is an issue Boscumin inventor Dr. Cherukuri has been talking about for some time and is delighted to have been included in this important piece.
The WSJ says:
FDA issued public warnings about the potential danger of these experimental stimulants
Consumers are taking dietary supplements with illegal -- and potentially harmful --ingredients, a growing body of evidence shows.
A new study published online in JAMA Internal Medicine this week found experimental stimulants in dietary supplements both before and after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued public warnings about the stimulants.
The stimulants aren't approved for human use and are believed to increase blood pressure and heart rates potentially, says Pieter Cohen, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and general internist at Cambridge Health Alliance who conducted the study with researchers from the University of California, San Francisco. "They do things we are concerned could lead to serious health effects like heart attacks and strokes," he says.
The FDA Is Powerless To Protect You
The article later notes:
Once the FDA issues a public warning, the expectation is that supplements containing prohibited ingredients will be removed from the market and new products won't be added, Dr. Cohen says. But he adds that in practice, that doesn't always happen and there is a lack of clarity over what actions must be taken and what the consequences are.
Are You Taking Unapproved Ingredients?
The California Department of Public Health analyzed the FDA's supplement warnings from 2007 to 2016 and found that prescription-drug ingredients were in 776 dietary supplements, many even after the FDA issued public warnings about the products. There were 157 products containing more than one unapproved ingredient. The analysis found that the FDA recalled the products less than half the time.
More than 50% of U.S. adults take dietary supplements such as vitamins, botanicals and enzymes.
* Supplements are classified as a category of food and aren't tightly regulated like prescription drugs.
* Supplement manufacturers don't have to demonstrate safety or effectiveness to the FDA before their products go on the market.
* Drug ingredients [in supplements] have the potential to cause serious adverse health effects due to misuse, overuse or interaction with other medications, underlying health conditions, or other pharmaceuticals within the supplement.
* Even when the FDA issues a recall or takes enforcement action against a distributor, other distributors often continue to sell the recalled product, or distributors relabel products to evade detection, Mr. Kahn says.
A Washington, D.C.-based trade group of dietary supplements and functional food manufacturers sides with researchers. Duffy MacKay, senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition, says the examples in the studies are products that are a "menace."
"We share disdain for this type of behavior," Mr. MacKay says. "A responsible manufacturer with a big brand name, none of this ever happens."
How to Find Trustworthy Supplements
WSJ also quotes the creator of Boscumin:
Sreek Cherukuri, a clinician and surgeon in Indiana, says in recent years more patients are asking about dietary supplements. Many aren't properly informed.
He asks patients before surgery what supplements, vitamins and herbal products they take, because these can interfere with surgery and cause thinning of the blood, he says. To help educate consumers about supplements, he started a website about a year ago.
"The vast majority of supplements don't have any strong scientific data to validate their use," Dr. Cherukuri says. "At best, they may not be doing what we think. At worst, they can be fraudulent or tainted and could put you in the hospital or emergency room."