Is your dietary supplement laced with an illegal drug?

You know that dietary supplement claims are often bogus. And about a third have something wrong with the quality of their contents or labeling.

But did you know that scores are also contaminated with prescription drugs, including some drugs banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because they’re not safe?

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Since the beginning of 2015, FDA testing has identified 145 different dietary supplement brands that contain drugs that are not supposed to be there and that aren’t listed on the labels. That’s an average of a new one every three days.

About half are weight-loss supplements with names like Eradicate Capsules, La Trim Plus, Natural Max Slimming, and Xtreme Fat Burner. Many contain sibutramine, a weight-loss drug banned six years ago because it can cause heart attacks and strokes.

The other half are sexual enhancement products with names like Herb Viagra, King of Romance, and Sextra. Most contain real Viagra, Cialis, or modified versions of these drugs whose safety is unknown.

May be only the tip of the iceberg

FDA’s testing “only includes a small fraction of the potentially hazardous products with hidden ingredients marketed to consumers on the internet and in retail establishments,” the agency warns. “FDA is unable to test and identify all products marketed as dietary supplements on the market that have potentially harmful hidden ingredients.”

You’re on your own, in other words. “Consumers should avoid products marketed as supplements that claim to have effects similar to prescription drugs,” FDA advises.

These hidden drugs could be present in dangerous amounts in the supplements. There’s no information on the labels about interactions with other drugs. And consumers are not warned about potentially dangerous side effects, which they wouldn’t be expecting because many of these products are marketed as “natural.”

Here’s a link to FDA’s database of “Tainted Products Marketed as Dietary Supplements.”

And here’s FDA’s page of advice for consumers about products that might be tainted with drugs.

 

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