Citizens for Health (CFH), a nonprofit consumer advocacy group dedicated to protecting and expanding access to dietary supplements, endorsed keepsupplementsclean.org, saying the site can help consumers avoid adulterated dietary supplements.
In a press release, CFH encouraged its 100,000 members to visit the site, which was created by the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) in August 2011 to support FDA's efforts to remove drugs illegally marketed as dietary supplements from the U.S. market. These so-call supplements actually contain prescription drugs or other illegal ingredients.
In December 2010, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, M.D., issued a letter to industry saying the agency would increase its enforcement efforts against tainted supplements, especially in the weight management, sexual health and bodybuilding categories.
While Hamburg focused on industry in her warning almost two years ago, it's good to have consumers aware of the adulteration issue for several reasons. First and foremost, consumers need to protect themselves and their families from harmful products. Keepsupplementsclean.org lists each product that has been flagged by FDA ,and links to information on where the case is in the legal process from warnings to injunctions and guilty pleas.
Keepsupplmentsclean.org also links to FDA’s consumer advice on how to avoid these products, and is updated every time FDA, or any international regulator, announces any action against a marketer of an illicit, tainted product.
CFH alerting consumers about the adulteration issue also shows that FDA is regulating the industry, which can help squash calls from lawmakers who want more regulation because they say FDA lacks authority.
Thirdly, it's good for consumers to recognize that AHPA—a trade organization—has undergone the effort to inform industry and consumers which "supplements" are actually adulterated. Good companies and trade organizations do not hide this issue. They understand that bringing a light to adulterated products will help stop it. The more consumers are aware of the actions of industry to correct this adulteration wrong, the more trust they will place in responsible companies.
"If you are a consumer of health-promoting dietary supplements, especially those in the product areas most likely to be contaminated with undeclared ingredients (e.g., weight loss, body-building or sexual enhancement), you can protect yourself from inadvertently consuming a hidden drug or steroid by staying informed through the AHPA’s KeepSupplementsClean.org," CFH's press release said. "Stay informed and stay healthy! Dietary supplement users can have confidence in the quality of the vast majority of dietary supplement products, but should also be wary when they encounter products with claims that sound too good to be true."
I applaud AHPA for creating the keepsupplementsclean.org and I applaud CFH for letting consumers know the resource is there.