One-in-five US nutritional supplements carry illegal labels05 October 2012
Up to 20% of US weight loss and immune system supplements in the US carry illegal labels and lack scientific evidence to back up health claims, according to an investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Department surveyed 127 supplements and found some of the worst offending products to claim to cure or prevent diabetes or treat those with HIV or Aids. The report concluded that consumers could be putting their health at risk by taking certain supplements instead of prescribed drugs.
“Consumers rely on a supplement's claims to determine whether the product will provide a desired effect, such as weight loss or immune support,” said the report.
"Supplements that make disease claims could mislead consumers into using them as replacements for prescription drugs or other treatments for medical conditions, with potentially dangerous results."
The report also recommends that the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) step-up its recent clampdown on non-compliant products. The FDA agreed with the recommendations and said that it would consider asking Congress for more power to scrutinise health claims.
Trade representatives said that the report highlights a small minority of offending firms.
"This small sample of supplements shouldn't smear the entire industry," John Shaw, the Natural Products Association’s executive director.
"Nevertheless, this report puts supplement makers on further notice about their responsibilities under the law."
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