Medicine

Hundreds of dietary supplements are tainted with unlisted drugs

Hundreds of dietary supplements are tainted with unlisted drugs

If you choose to take an over-the-counter supplement for weight loss, muscle-building, or even sexual enhancement, you probably trust what it says on the bottle.

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

Kumar's team noted that more than half of all American adults routinely take some form of dietary supplement, with estimated annual sales of $35 billion.

Nearly all the muscle building supplements, 82 out of 92 products, contained synthetic steroids or steroid-like ingredients, which, when abused, can lead to mental health problems, kidney and heart problems, and liver damage.

Dietary supplements promising enhanced sexual pleasure, weight loss, and muscle gain secretly contain unsafe pharmaceuticals, researchers warn. Weight loss - unapproved drugs As for the many weight-loss supplements on the market, Kumar and his colleagues found that sibutramine, a drug removed from the United States market in 2010 because of cardiovascular risks was identified in 85 percent of the supplements. fluoxetine, a prescription antidepressant, was found in 5.4 percent of the products.

Other drugs found in the adulterated supplements include antidepressants and antihistamines, both of which may have side effects and interact with other medications.

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As reported in the journal JAMA Network Open, researchers from the California Department of Food and Agriculture extracted data from the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Tainted Products Marketed as Dietary Supplements_CDER database. Unlike drugs, which are regulated by the FDA, the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act classifies dietary supplements as food and are therefore not required to be subjected to the same testing by the agency. Meanwhile, muscle building supplements were found to contain synthetic steroids.

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.

"It's mind-boggling to imagine what's happening here", said Dr. Pieter Cohen, an associate professor of medicine at the Cambridge Health Alliance in MA.

"Only 360 of 746 (48%) were recalled, leaving the majority of adulterated supplements, more than 350 products, available for sale", Cohen wrote in an editorial published with the study. One would require manufacturers to register products with the FDA before they go on the market. 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. The supplements aren't classified by the FDA as drugs, but are considered foods. "How could it be that our premier public health agency spends the time and money to detect these hidden ingredients and then doesn't take the next obvious step, which is to ensure that they are removed from the marketplace?"

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. Some of the drugs found, like steroids, stimulants and anti-depressants, can have serious adverse effects, causing symptoms issues that medical professionals wouldn't suspect a supplement of causing.