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Proposed bill would allow FDA to regulate dietary supplements

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is responsible for oversight of all prescription drugs. Their drug regulation efforts are aimed at maintaining public safety by preventing a defective medication from harming the public. A defective drug can cause injury, illness or even a wrongful death. However, the FDA has no safety regulation powers over the world of dietary supplements yet these products are also known to have the potential to cause serious problems for people who take them.

Two senators have introduced a new bill that, if passed, would give the FDA regulatory authority over dietary supplements. The bill acknowledges that supplements can be harmful and currently operate under the radar. Problems encountered with supplements are only known by the FDA once an injury or illness actually occurs. One study shows that, between 2004 and 2012, supplements accounted for more than 50% of all recalled drugs in the Class 1 category. Similarly, in a roughly five and a half year period, supplements were responsible for 6,300 serious side effects, 900 visits to an emergency room, 2,100 admissions to a hospital and 115 deaths.

Known as the Dietary Supplemental Labelling Act, the bill would require that all supplements be registered with the FDA. There are additional clauses in the bill relating to the categorization of supplements. Even basic vitamins and minerals can be hazardous as they can interact poorly with a prescription medication or even be harmful when taken in large doses.

Many St. Louis residents routinely take vitamins or other supplements to maintain health or even hopefully to correct a problem. It is wise, however, to be aware of the current lack of regulation of these items. If you experience any ill side effects while taking such products, if may be in your best interest to talk with an attorney.

Source: Food Poisoning Bulletin, “Consumers Union endorses dietary supplement labeling act,” Linda Larsen, August 6, 2013

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