Dr. Pieter Cohen this month wrote an article  on contaminated supplements that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, outlining the concers many healthcare professionals have regarding the use of over the counter supplements. He will be a guest with Dr. Joe Galati this week on Your Health First.
In one of the most dangerous cities in the United States, one portly police sergeant has more to worry about than crime. His doctor had been encouraging him for years to lose weight, and like millions of other Americans, he decided to try a weight-loss supplement to help him shed his extra pounds. But instead of losing weight, he lost his job. According to the label, his diet pills, which were imported from Brazil and sold in the United States, contained vitamin E, centella, senna, and cascara, among other "natural" ingredients. Not included on the label was the amphetamine detected in his urine drug screen. The now-unemployed sergeant is not alone. Such contaminated supplements represent an emerging risk to public health.

In August 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discovered more products, most of them labeled as dietary supplements, that contain a wide variety of undeclared active pharmaceutical ingredients. Now, more than 140 contaminated products have been identified, but these represent only a fraction of the contaminated supplements on the market. Unfortunately, lenient regulatory oversight of dietary supplements, combined with the FDA's lack of resources, has created a marketplace in which manufacturers can introduce hazardous new products with virtual impunity. Although manufacturers have since 2007 been required to report serious supplement-related adverse events to the FDA, the great majority of the estimated 50,000 adverse events that occur annually remain unreported.

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