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Tainted Supplemental Drugs May Harm Consumers

Tainted Supplemental Drugs May Harm Consumers

The New York Times: Unknown to consumers, “natural” supplemental products are tainted with hazardous drugs that may cause heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, liver damage, depression and addiction. Supplemental drugs —defined as products that only contain ingredients like vitamins and minerals — have been spiked with dosages of drugs that are sometimes 5-7 times higher than the approved legal limit and pose serious health risks.

What You Can Do & How We Can Help

The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting supplemental drug induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has been injured by supplemental drugs, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Dangerous Drug Litigation Group or call toll Free 24 hours a day at (866) 910-0753.

Tainted Supplemental Drugs: An Overview

In an August 27, 2011 article of The New York Times, it was reported that supplemental drugs — often used for weight-loss, bodybuilding and sexual enhancement — have been laced with hazardous drugs which can cause cancer, heart problems, depression, addiction, kidney failure and liver failure. A few cases have even been fatal.

“These products may work,” said Dr. Pieter Cohen in The New York Times article. “But if you take them, they could kill you.”

The sale of supplemental drugs is a big and growing business in the United States, with Americans spending $28.1 billion on supplemental drugs last year. This is up from $21.3 billion five years ago, according to market research firm Nutrition Business Journal.

While the majority of supplements are legal and safe (including products like Centrum, One a Day and Nature Made), illegal products are coming from places like China and are being filtered through the black market to consumers, now even available online through sites like Amazon and eBay.

Advertised as all natural “miracle drugs,” these supplemental drugs actually contain amphetamines, steroids, laxatives or compounds similar to those found in Viagra.

For example, dietary supplements are commonly laced with sibutramine, an appetite suppressant, which can cause heart attacks or stroke. Additionally, male sex enhancement supplements may contain sildenafil citrate, which is the active ingredient in Viagra. However, the male sex enhancement supplements have been found to contain seven times the legal recommended dosage of sildenafil citrate. Other products may not have even been tested for safety in humans.

Supplemental drugs that are spiked with these other drugs are not supplements — these are drugs, which are being sold under the guise of supplements. And currently in the US, it is illegal to market drugs as supplements.

To date, the FDA has seized more than $1 million worth of tainted supplements.

“We are removing only a fraction,” said Michael Levy, director of the FDA office of drug security, integrity and recalls.

Sadly, the FDA is struggling to stop the sale of these illegal drugs. Supplement drug makers can introduce new products to the U.S. market more easily than pharmaceutical drug makers. This is because prescription drugs have to go through premarket approval, proving their safety and effectiveness. Supplements do not have to go through premarket approval. Because these laced drugs are labeled as supplements, they may quickly and easily hit the U.S. market with few barriers.

The problem is not just contained to the black market either. Even drugs that make it to the shelves of GNC or Vitamin Shoppe are at risk. Three years ago, both stores pulled StarCaps, which was advertised as a papaya-based weight-loss supplement, from their shelves. StarCaps was found to contain diuretic, a drug commonly known as the “water pill,”  which causes increased urination.

The process of detecting and seizing drug-laced supplements is expensive and time-consuming. Unfortunately, the FDA does not have the resources to track these products and can not prevent the tainted supplements from reaching the market.

Interestingly, manufacturers of legal supplements are doing little to raise any alarms or stop the problem themselves. Instead, while corporate leaders claim they want to protect consumers, they are also worried that if they raise too much attention to the issue, consumers will be driven away from the growing marketplace as a whole.

As a result, the majority of supplement users cannot tell the difference between legal (untainted) and illegal (tainted) supplements. They are unaware of the problem and are putting themselves at risk.

Do I Have a Supplemental Drug Lawsuit?

The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting supplemental drug induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has been injured by supplemental drugs, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Dangerous Drug Litigation Group or call toll Free 24 hours a day at (866) 910-0753.

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