NPA to FDA: Consumer Advisory on Supplements, Drugs Is Misleading

NPA appears concerned that FDA suggested to consumers in the Oct. 27 advisory that dietary supplements should carry a warning label that relate to their interactions with pharmaceuticals.

WASHINGTON—The Natural Products Association on Friday expressed concern over a recent FDA consumer update, which warned consumers that there are risks associated with taking dietary supplements and medications at the same time.

“We are disappointed to see this type of communication from the agency, as it seems sensational in nature, and provides misleading information related to dietary supplements as compared to other foods," NPA’s VP of Public Relations & Communications, Lauren Cohen, wrote in a letter to an FDA official, Steven Immergut.

The letter requested that FDA clarify its Oct. 27 advisory to consumers, “Mixing Medications and Dietary Supplements Can Endanger Your Health."

NPA appears concerned that FDA suggested to consumers that dietary supplements should carry a warning label that relate to their interactions with pharmaceuticals. FDA has never required dietary supplements carry such a label, and medications already must include warning statements “regarding potentially dangerous combinations with that particular drug product," Cohen wrote.

She noted “it is unclear as to why the FDA positioned its communication that dietary supplements pose more risk or harm than other foods when used with pharmaceuticals. If the FDA seeks to make such a statement, it must have compelling evidence."

In the consumer update, FDA explained certain supplements can change absorption, metabolism or excretion of a medication, impacting the potency of the over-the-counter or prescription medication. FDA warned that mixing dietary supplements and medications could be dangerous and even life-threatening.

Robert Mozersky, a medical officer at FDA, recommended consumers consult their healthcare professional before taking any dietary supplement or medication.

“NPA supports the position that consumers should consult their physician any time they are supplementing their diet, making a change in their diet, or seeking advice on a medication," Cohen stated in the letter to FDA. “A more important focus for this consumer update would have been to emphasize the importance of talking with a doctor before starting any medication or dietary supplement or making any changes to one’s health care regimen."

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