Dr. Oz calls spiked supplements an 'American scandal'

Dr. Oz claims spiked, dangerous supplements are an "American health scandal" and is calling for more regulation.

Sandy Almendarez, VP of Content

January 18, 2012

3 Min Read
Dr. Oz calls spiked supplements an 'American scandal'

Dr. Mehmet Oz has been a healthy addition to the dietary supplement industry. He mentioned krill oil on his show and sales spiked. Similar results were seen after he touted astaxanthin. Certainly, industry loved him for this, but on Monday's show, Dr. Oz seemed to turn on us.

In a show segment titled "Who's Spiking Your Supplements," Dr. Oz said his show tested six over-the-counter weight-loss dietary supplements and found all of them contained prescription drugs. One supplement he called out by nameQue Shehad five prescriptions in it: sibutramine, fenfluramine, ephedrine and propranolol.

But, as reported by Natural Products Insider, FDA issued a warning against Que She in 2010 after the agency found the supplement was adulterated. Dr. Oz didn't call out the other ingredients he tested by name, but my best guess is that the show knew the products would most likely be adulterated based on previous FDA warnings.

Dr. Oz said all the products contained sibutramine (a prescription weight-loss ingredient) and said another one contained the antibiotic ciprofloxacin (cipro).

He furthered his scare tactics by telling his audience this was "America's hidden health scandal." He said, "These over-the-counter supplements are still everyone, in corner and health food stores, in big cities, in small towns and online. Unregulated, illegal. But where are they coming from? We sent our samples off to an independent lab.  Today, the results are in, and they will shock you."

In passing, he did say, "Most supplements are safe," but that was easily overshadowed by his "Top Three Supplement Secrets":

  1. They can be spiked with recalled prescription drugs

  2. Some of them contain not just one, but multiple prescription drugs

  3. Spiked supplements are available everywhere.

To number three, he added that they are even available in Lawrence, KS. "This is not an urban problem," he said.

While industry may cringe at Dr. Oz's behavior of scaring consumers while even acknowledging that most supplements are safe, I haven't even mentioned the worst of it yet. One expert he had on called foryes, you guessed itnew laws to fix the problem. Pieter Cohen, M.D., Cambridge Health Alliance and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, said, "In order to make sure our herbal supplements are safe, were going to have to ask Congress to change the law to require supplement manufactures demonstrate safety to FDA prior to products going on the store shelves."

During the 15-mintue segment, they never mentioned the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) or the fact that legislation is already in place that gives FDA the authority to pull all these products off the shelves. Again, I'll say it, regulation does not equal enforcement. And it seems FDA doesn't have the ability to stop every illegal sale. Adding more laws isn't going to change that.

FDA has increased enforcement lately with more warning letters and GMP (good manufacturing practice) inspections, which is helping to clean up the industry and make products safer for consumers. But that's not a sexy "dietary supplement secret" or scare tactic Dr. Oz can use with a backdrop of dramatic music.

About the Author(s)

Sandy Almendarez

VP of Content, Informa


• Well-known subject matter expert within the health & nutrition industry with more than 15 years’ experience reporting on natural products.

• She cares a lot about how healthy products are made, where their ingredients are sourced and how they affect human health.

• She knows that it’s the people behind the businesses — their motivations, feelings and emotions — drive industry growth, so that’s where she looks for content opportunities.

Sandy Almendarez is VP of Content for SupplySide and an award-winning journalist. She oversees the editorial and content marketing teams for the B2B media brands Natural Products Insider and Food and Beverage Insider, the education programming for the health and nutrition trade shows SupplySide East and SupplySide West, and community engagement across the SupplySide portfolio. She is a seasoned content strategist with a passion for health, good nutrition, sustainability and inclusion. With over 15 years of experience in the health and nutrition industry, Sandy brings a wealth of knowledge to her role as a content-focused business leader. With specialization in topics ranging from product development to content engagement, creative marketing and c-suite decision making, her work is known for its engaging style and its relevance for business leaders in the health and nutrition industry.

In her free time, Sandy loves running, drinking hot tea and watching her two kids grow up. She brews her own “Sandbucha” homemade kombucha; she’s happy to share if you’re ever in Phoenix!


Speaker credentials

Resides in

  • Phoenix, AZ


  • Arizona State University


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