Wednesday, April 8, 2015

FDA Fails To Supervise Dietary Supplement Industry

The dietary supplement industry is a $33 billion industry in the US that has a license to steal from naive consumers.  They do not have to support the claims that they make for the benefits from the supplements that they sell;  many of the supplements do not even have the ingredients that they place on the product labels, and some of their products present health hazards.  One of the health hazards comes from BMPE which is a substitute for amphetamine.  Canada has banned products containing BMPE, but the Federal Drug Agency in the US has not warned consumers about these products and it has made no effort to remove them from the market.

We should not be too surprised about the state of this $33 billion market in the US.  The 1994 law that applies to the industry was developed by Orrin Hatch, who is the senior US Senator from Utah  in which many of the producers are headquartered.  Hatch's son Scott is a partner in a lobbying firm that represents the industry in Washington.  The FDA, which is supposed to protect consumers, is a toothless tiger.  The top FDA officials, in charge of the supplement industry, move back and forth between the FDA and the industry's official trade organization.  Just another example of the revolving door between US regulatory agencies and the industries that they are supposed to regulate.

Its hard to imagine a more profitable business to enter.  The list of purported benefits from the supplements is marketers dream.  They will improve your sex life;  help you to develop a powerful body; allow you to lose weight without having to diet; help you to get a good nights sleep, and they will cure some of our most common ailments.  The advertised claims that they make for their products do not have to supported with evidence.  Apparently, its sufficient to tell consumers that they are "natural" products and to show pictures of unidentified people who have benefited from the product.  The products are also very cheap to produce.  Studies have shown that they seldom have the "natural" ingredients that they advertise.  Cheap fillers are the primary ingredient in the products.  To make things even better, the prices that they charge for the products has little relation to the cost of producing the products.  Their major expense is marketing and the cost of distribution. Organized crime organizations in the US should be jealous.  They have to deal with violence and the risk of imprisonment.  The dietary supplement industry only makes a relatively minor contribution to public officials in relation to their revenues and profits. 

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