About 150 million people in the U.S., nearly half the total population, take dietary supplements, vitamins, herbal remedies or weight-loss compounds. About 450 companies that produce these items enjoy their share of a $28 billion industry. Under law, these supplements are categorized as "food," so they are not subject to the strict regulations that govern pharmaceuticals.
Now, officials at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are concerned with numerous irregularities and potentially harmful practices that are cropping up in the manufacture of supplements. They have found pesticides in herbal remedies, unsanitary manufacturing conditions, bacteria in vitamins for children and even supplements tainted with drugs and hazardous materials. An FDA spokesperson says that 70 percent of supplement manufacturers have broken the agency's safety rules. The FDA says that these violations put consumers at risk.
Last year, about 3,500 products were recalled. Just in the last month, vitamins containing dangerous steroids were recalled along with 15 other products. FDA officials describe numerous cases of negligence at many supplement manufacturing facilities, such as failure to clean out vats between batches of various products and the absence of written recipes for many supplements. They say dangerous drugs are showing up in all kinds of supplements. A recent report in the Journal of the American Medical Association said that drugs are often added intentionally to boost the potency of some additives.
A list of recent recalls and seizures found supplements contaminated with drugs to induce, psychoactive drugs, laxatives, suspected carcinogens and drugs that can provoke heart attacks. The contaminants that taint some supplements can cause illness or even death. Families of victims might seek the opinion of an attorney to see if it is possible to receive compensation for lost wages, medical expenses and suffering after ingesting a dangerous supplement or other product.
Source: The Denver Channel, "FDA official: 70 percent of supplement companies violate rules", Delthia Ricks, August 23, 2013