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“The FDA does not do any review of dietary supplements before they come onto the market. I think that all consumers need to understand this,” 

FDA acting commissioner Stephen Ostroff, M.D.

Crucial Information Consumers Need to Know 

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  • Federal law does not require dietary supplements to be proven safe to FDA's satisfaction before they are marketed.
  • Supplements can be marketed and sold without any evidence that they are safe, pure, or effective.
  • The law does not require the manufacturer or seller to prove to FDA's satisfaction that the claim is accurate or truthful before it appears on the product.
  • Unregulated supplements send thousands of people to the emergency room each year and can be contaminated with banned drugs or bacteria.
 

The FDA is only allowed to act only after a product is on the market and has caused a serious complication -- injury, liver damage, or death.  Consumers must be smart about supplement use in order to avoid a major complication.

Things to look for in a supplement before deciding it is safe

Be a Safe and Informed Consumer

 
 Sreekant Cherukuri, MD,  Clinical Assistant Professor  Indiana University School of Medicine
Look for supplements that have had ‘controlled studies’ published in medical journals. This confirms that the supplement will be effective.
Look for 3rd party testing of the supplement to guarantee that what’s on the label is in fact in the bottle, and that the supplement is not contaminated.

Sreekant Cherukuri, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor Indiana University School of Medicine

Dietary supplements aren’t always safe or harmless. Even “natural” supplements can be risky for people on certain medicines or with certain medical conditions, and some supplements have been found to be tainted with drugs or other chemicals.

— Federal Trade Commission
Do not assume that the term “natural” in relation to a product ensures that the product is wholesome or safe.

— FDA Consumer Website
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Be wary of hype and learn to spot false claims. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is, such as "Lose 30 pounds in 30 days."

 
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Consumers need to do their due diligence and speak to their health care providers and talk about what they want to take.

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What can you do?

 

  • Think a claim seems false, unsupported, or simply unbelievable? Does it promise to treat or cure a disease? Tell the FTC
  • Concerned about a statement made on a product label or other packaging, or about the content or purity of the product? Report it to the FDA.  
  • Urge the FDA to use clinical trials and NOT DEATHS as a measure of supplement safety. Sign the petition on change.org.

Dietary Supplements: Questions To Ask

While some dietary supplements have proven benefits, others don't. And some could even be risky for your health.

 

For more information:

 

Urge the FDA to use clinical trials and NOT DEATHS as a measure of supplement safety. Sign the petition on change.org.