Dangerous dietary supplements on the market without FDA approval

Posted By Kinnard, Clayton & Beveridge || Mar 1, 2013

Every day -- day in and day out -- Tennessee residents are bombarded with advertisements for products promising lasting weight loss. These products range from exercise equipment to meal plans to dietary supplements. The reasons many give into these products are often justifiable. Maybe their doctor suggested losing some weight? Or maybe they would just feel healthier with a little more muscle mass and figure what's the harm of supplementing their hard work with a little pill?

It turns out that many of these dietary supplements may in fact be dangerous products. In fact, according to the Food and Drug Administration's classification system, dietary supplements accounted for more than 50 percent of the Class I drug recalls by the agency between 2004 and 2012. To fall into this classification, it means the supplements contained ingredients that could cause "serious adverse health consequences or death."

In looking at just what types of dietary supplements were recalled, those marketed toward weight loss, bodybuilding and sexual enhancement topped the list.

The issue with dietary supplements is that FDA approval is not needed before the products are put on store shelves. Rather, the FDA becomes involved after it is reported that a supplement supposedly contains a potentially dangerous ingredient. After hearing of this dangerous ingredient, then the FDA will try and reach out to the manufacturer.

But, due to the way the system works, getting a hold of the manufacturer is not always easy. With the FDA only having correct contact information for one-fifth of manufacturers, and how easy it is for manufacturers to change company names, locations or make small adjustments to their formulas, cracking down can be quite difficult.

To try to combat this, the FDA has initiated stronger enforcement groups and media campaigns. The thought is the more awareness regarding certain ingredients found in certain dietary supplements, the better for the consumer. However, even though this information is out there, it should be noted these dangerous supplements still find their way on to store shelves.

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