Government Warns of Dietary Supplement Danger

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The federal government is calling attention to the potential dangers of dietary supplements following a series of legal actions against more than 100 manufacturers and marketers.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and other federal agencies announced the civil and criminal actions Tuesday.

They resulted from a year-long, multiagency effort that focused on a segment of the dietary supplement market that “is causing increasing concern among health officials nationwide,” the DOJ explains in a news release:

In each case, the [DOJ] or one of its federal partners allege the sale of supplements that contain ingredients other than those listed on the product label or the sale of products that make health or disease treatment claims that are unsupported by adequate scientific evidence.

One of those cases resulted in criminal charges against USPlabs and several of that company’s corporate officers, who were indicted by a grand jury and either arrested or turned themselves in on Tuesday, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

USPlabs sold widely popular workout and weight-loss supplements under names like “Jack3d” and “OxyElite Pro,” the latter of which was sold at dietary supplement stores nationwide. Among other things, the FDA says USPlabs is accused of:

  • Using illegal methods to import ingredients from China.
  • Telling retailers and wholesalers it was using natural plant extracts in products rather than a synthetic stimulant.
  • Selling some products before establishing their safety.

Benjamin C. Mizer, principal deputy assistant attorney general for the DOJ Civil Division, says in the FDA announcement:

“The USPlabs case and others brought as part of this sweep illustrate alarming practices the Department found — practices that must be brought to the public’s attention so consumers know the serious health risks of untested products.”

The FDA regulates supplements but not in the same way it oversees foods and pharmaceutical drugs. According to the agency’s website, supplement manufacturers must register their facilities with the FDA but are not required to get FDA approval before producing or selling supplements.

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