Monday, December 31, 2007

Dietary Supplements

For those who think that FDA regulation of dietary supplements would be a bad idea, and that the current system works:

FDA: Chinese Dietary Supplements Contain Viagra []

The agency advised consumers to stay away from Shangai Chaojimengnan supplements sold under the names Super Shangai, Strong Testis, Shangai Ultra, Shangai Ultra X, Lady Shangai and Shangai Regular. The Chinese-made supplements are packaged and distributed by Shangai Distributor Inc. of Puerto Rico.

Note the "advised consumers to stay away..." Even though it contains a prescription medication, because it's sold as a "dietary supplement" the most the FDA can do (unless people start dying) is to advise people to avoid the product. Something capable of producing serious drug interactions, and that itself contains a controlled substance, cannot be removed from the market. The FDA also had no authority to test this "supplement" before it was imported and sold.

The simple fact is that we don't know what's in these quasi-regulated pills and potions. There are labelling laws, but they rely on the manufacturer, testing by the FDA is minimal and infrequent, and it's difficult to get even a proven violator taken off the market. There's a reason we have a federal agency whose purpose is to guarantee the safety of our food and drug supply.

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