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Recalled Supplements Often Back in Stores in 1 Year

October 22, 2014 — When the FDA recalls dietary supplement, the products are often back on store shelves in months with the same ingredients or additional illegal ingredients, according to a study published in JAMA.

The researchers decided to investigate the effectiveness of FDA supplement recalls. Between January 2009 and December 2012, there were 274 recalls for dietary supplements that contained illegal ingredients. Many products were back on store shelves within months, but with minor changes to the packaging, brand-name, label, and/or ingredients.

They chose 27 products that were apparently identical to products that were recalled. Using the same methods as the FDA, laboratory tests found that 66.7% of supplements remained adulterated with banned ingredients at least 6 months after the recall. About 85% of recalled sports-enhancement supplements remained adulterated.

Even more shocking, 22.2% (6 out of 27) supplements returned to store shelves with 1 or more additional banned ingredients. Some products had the original adulterant plus additional pharmaceutical ingredients.

The researchers concluded:

“Action by the FDA has not been completely effective in eliminating all potentially dangerous adulterated supplements from the US marketplace. More aggressive enforcement of the law, changes to the law to increase the FDA’s enforcement powers, or both will be required if sales of these products are to be prevented in the future.”

The study was conducted by Dr. Pieter A. Cohen, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, and colleagues. This same team of researchers recently found DMBA, an illegal stimulant nearly identical to DMAA, in twelve supplements. The FDA banned supplements with DMAA in 2012.

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