Prescription drugs keep popping up in dietary supplements

Maricruz Casares
Octubre 18, 2018

More than one unapproved pharmaceutical ingredient was found in 20 per cent of those supplements.

Most of the adulterated dietary supplements were marketed for sexual enhancement, weight loss, and muscle building.

Another strategy could be to get Congress to change dietary-supplement regulations so that companies are required to register supplements with the FDA before they can sell them.

With an estimated 50 percent of Americans consuming some type of supplement, researchers note that the $35 billion industry is a big business.

Nearly all the muscle building supplements, 82 out of 92 products, contained synthetic steroids or steroid-like ingredients, which, when abused, can lead to mental health problems, kidney and heart problems, and liver damage.

Viagra, steroids, and appetite suppressant drugs may be helping your supplements do their job - here's where to see the list.

The products were marketed as dietary supplements from 2007 to 2016. Weight loss - unapproved drugs As for the many weight-loss supplements on the market, Kumar and his colleagues found that sibutramine, a drug removed from the U.S. market in 2010 because of cardiovascular risks was identified in 85 percent of the supplements. fluoxetine, a prescription antidepressant, was found in 5.4 percent of the products.

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You can read about the methodology and specifics of the report here, Unapproved Pharmaceutical Ingredients Included in Dietary Supplements Associated With US Food and Drug Administration Warnings.

Dietary supplements aren't regulated like pharmaceutical drugs, so that means they shouldn't contain pharmaceutical drugs. At least 19 of these products contained new unapproved ingredients in the second or third warning, consistent with the assumption that the FDA found the product to be adulterated a couple of times. Among them, dapoxetine, an antidepressant that is not approved in the United States, and sibutramine, which was included in some weight-loss supplements but was banned from the US market in 2010 because of cardiovascular risks.

According to the study, more than half of the time, the FDA fails to enforce the recalls of supplements it has identified as containing unapproved drug ingredients. These issues generally draw FDA warning letters and agency requests for voluntary recalls by the manufacturer. Meanwhile, muscle building supplements were found to contain synthetic steroids.

"Only 360 of 746 (48%) were recalled, leaving the majority of adulterated supplements, more than 350 products, available for sale", Cohen wrote in an editorial published with the study. The database contains supplements that the FDA has purchased, tested and found to be adulterated.

FDA spokeswoman Lindsay Haake wrote in an email that "the FDA recognizes the seriousness of this problem and continues to act within its resources and authorities to address this problem as best it can". Such products pose serious health risks, especially to users who are unaware that the supplements they are taking are actually adulterated with drugs.

The illicit drugs found in the supplements "have the potential to cause serious adverse health effects owing to accidental misuse, overuse, or interaction with other medications, underlying health conditions, or other pharmaceuticals within the supplement", the study warns.

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