Last week I wrote about some of the side effects that consumers face when using unregulated dietary and herbal supplements, side effects which can tragically lead to loss of life.
Three weeks after Schneiderman’s commissioned DNA testing of six major herbal supplements, he sent out letters to Nature’s Way Products Inc. (Nature’s Way), Nutraceutical Corp. (Herbs for Kids), NBTY Inc. (Sundown Naturals, Solgar, Nature’s Bounty, Vitamin World), and Pharmavite LLC (Nature Made) – who also manufacture store-brand dietary supplements for Walgreens, Walmart, GNC, and Target – demanding their co-operation in providing detailed information regarding the ingredients in all of their herbal supplement products which are sold in New York state, along with evidence of their quality control methods. The companies will also have to disclose which other brands they manufacture herbal and dietary supplements for, which in some cases, can account for around a third of their revenue.
The letter, which gave the supplement manufacturers until last week (March 13) to comply, informed them that;
“As part of a broader investigation, NYAG is reviewing the sufficiency of the measures manufacturers and retailers are taking to independently assess the validity of their representations and advertising in connection with the sale of herbal supplements.”
Evidence of Herbal Supplement Ingredients
Regarding the ingredients in the supplements, Schneiderman wants definitive evidence of the names and countries of origin, which extraction processes are used, and the concentration used in each of the supplements’ components. He has also demanded complete descriptions of the analysis tests which are used for quality control of not only the final product but of each ingredient as well. In addition, the AG wants details of quality assurance from one end of the supply chain to the other. Finally, the manufacturers have been instructed to test and provide evidence that the health and safety claims on product labels (e.g. hypoallergenic, gluten free, etc.) are genuine, and he wants copies of all the documentation relating to possible side effects, allergic reactions, and other adverse consequences arising from use of the herbal supplements.
Speaking about the initiative, a spokesman for Schneiderman, Matt Mittenthal said;
“Attorney General Schneiderman is committed to ensuring that the roughly 150 million Americans who use herbal supplements know what is in the products they are consuming. It’s important for both retailers and manufacturers to verify the contents of the products they sell so consumers can be protected against deceptive claims on packaging, and against potentially dangerous reactions to undisclosed ingredients.”
According to the American Botanical Council, the herbal supplements industry in the US is worth around six billion dollars a year. Around 50% of the American population consumes herbal supplements, of which there are approximately 65,000 different products on sale – all unregulated by the FDA, which can only take action against supplements manufacturers after their products have been proved to be unsafe.
Attorneys General Coalition To Investigate More Herbal Supplements
Schneiderman is not the only AG concerned for the welfare of the American public, others from Indiana, Connecticut, and Puerto Rico have formed a coalition with NYAG, and are now pushing to ensure that all American manufacturers of dietary and herbal supplements are able to validate the claims they make, particularly with regard to their marketing materials and product labelling.
For example, although the packaging for ABC Dophilus (mentioned last week) makes the claim that its product supports good health in children and infants by helping to maintain a healthy and balanced microbial ecology within the intestine, further down the label in small print is the following disclaimer;
“These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”
According to the American Gastroenterological Association;
“Overall, more research is necessary before blanket statements about the safety of probiotics in general or about individual probiotic groups and strains can be made.”
The AGA has also issued this advice to consumers;
“Keep in mind that probiotics are considered dietary supplements and are not FDA-regulated like drugs. They are not standardized, meaning they are made in different ways by different companies and have different additives. How well a probiotic works may differ from brand to brand and even from batch to batch within the same brand. Probiotics also vary tremendously in their cost, and cost does not necessarily reflect higher quality.”
New York personal injury lawyers, Antin, Ehrlich, and Epstein LLP are currently accepting personal injury cases relating to dietary and herbal supplements; if you, or somebody you know, has suffered a personal injury caused by a dietary or herbal supplement, you should contact us as soon as possible to schedule a free consultation. Call New York personal injury lawyers, Antin, Ehrlich, and Epstein today on 212-221-5999