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NewsBites February 2015 Issue

Banned “Supplements” Don’t Stay Off the Market

A new study, published in JAMA, reports that products sold as “dietary supplements” that have been recalled by the FDA often find their way back onto store shelves on average only a year later. The products were found to contain powerful but undisclosed prescription drugs, anabolic steroids and banned amphetamine-like compounds. But researchers were able to purchase 27 such recalled products with identical packaging; many others, they noted, return to the market with cosmetic changes to labels or branding.

“This is the problem with supplements,” commented lead author Pieter A. Cohen, MD, of Harvard Medical School. “They can be introduced without any vetting at all by the FDA. These products are recalled, and then the companies keep selling the pills without making one iota of change to the product.”

Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), “dietary supplements” are regulated differently from medications: Companies do not require FDA approval before marketing such products, and products are considered safe until proven otherwise.

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