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Even after FDA recalls, many dietary supplements still contain banned drugs


It's no secret that many dietary supplements - especially those intended for weight loss - can contain harmful ingredients, yet even FDA intervention may not be enough to keep these dangerous substances out of products on store shelves.

A recent study published in JAMA found that about two-thirds of FDA-recalled dietary supplements still contained banned drugs at least 6 months after being recalled.

Recalls are put in place when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration deems that a product has a "reasonable possibility" of causing serious adverse health outcomes or death.

Before this study, it was not known whether FDA recalls impacted ingredients in the products that were made and sold afterwards. Most of the questionable ingredients in dietary supplements are pharmaceutical adulterants like sibutramine, sildenafil, fluoxetine, phenolphthalein and various anabolic steroids.

U.S. Manufacturers to blame

A whopping 74 percent of the supplements analyzed in the study came from U.S. manufacturers. One or more pharmaceutical adulterants were identified in 66.7 percent of recalled supplements still available for purchase, the study found.

"Sixty-three percent of analyzed supplements contained the same adulterant identified by the FDA," a press release on the study stated. "Six (22.2 percent) supplements contained 1 or more additional banned ingredients not identified by the FDA. Some supplements contained both the previously identified adulterant as well as additional pharmaceutical ingredients."

Dietary supplements, like certain laxatives or herbal weight loss products, have been known to cause a range of symptoms: rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, allergic reactions and even death, in some cases.

The main takeaway from the study is that the FDA hasn't been entirely effective at ensuring the safety of dietary supplements, the study authors said. Better enforcement of the law is required to keep consumers safe and prevent the sale of tainted products in the future, they concluded.

Source: JAMA