FDA Spikes Concerns Over Dangerous Dietary Supplements

April 8th, 2015 No comments »

Anahad O’Connor, writing in the New York Times, discloses an upsetting picture of the Food and Drug Administration inaction on policing an amphetamine-like substance in dietary supplements. The article describes how the leadership of the FDA division responsible for policing dietary supplements has been and is led by highlevel executives from the Natural Products Association, the trade association representing dietary supplement makers.


Senators Scold Dr. Oz

June 17th, 2014 No comments »

Senators took Dr. Oz over the coals today for his promoting “miracle” weight loss products. NBS News reports that Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, chair of the Senate Subcommittee on consumer protection asked, “So why, when you have this amazing megaphone…why would you cheapen your show by saying things like that?” She said Oz plays a role in perpetuating weight loss scams. Oz stated, “I concede to my colleagues (sic) at the FTC that I am making their job more difficult.” Oz said he thinks these products give people hope to keep trying to lose weight.

In fact, these fraudulent operators are selling false hope. They take money from people desperate to lose weight.  The products fails, of course, but because of the advertising messages,  overweight consumers believe that there is something wrong with them which make the product ineffective.

CBSNews reports that Dr. Oz said he did his own randomized clinical trial on green coffee bean extract. He described his clinical trial (probably not registered on ClinicalTrials.gov). He took 100 women in the studio audience; half took green tea extract and half had a placebo. After two weeks, the women on the supplement lost an average of two pounds while the placebo group lost an average of one pound.  The program aired in September 2012. Can’t wait to read the publication!

For those interested in actual factual information on weight loss scams, their prevalence and costs, check out the testimony by Mary Engle from the Federal Trade Commission at today’s hearing.

Politicians Beware of Dietary Supplement Businessmen

January 23rd, 2014 No comments »

Source: Politico.com

Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell and his wife for accepting gifts from a dietary supplement businessman. McDonnell had state health officials meet with Star Scientific Inc. representatives who wanted its supplement, Anatabloc, included in the basic health plan for state employees. The Governor and his wife openly endorsed Anatabloc.

Jonnie R. Williams, head of Star Scientific Inc., gave over $100,000 in corporate jet travel to the governor and personal gifts to the McDonnell’s over $145,000. Williams had run afoul of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which forced him to pay back nearly $300,000 for using research with false claims to promote a medical business. Star Scientific has three shareholder lawsuits against it alleging the company made false or misleading statements to boost Anatabloc.

Like all other dietary supplements, approval by the Food and Drug Administration before sale is not required. The company claims that Anatabloc helps “reduce inflammation and support a health metabolism.” However, as reported by the Richmond (VA) Times Dispatch, the company has put out at least 15 press releases on scientific studies it commissioned implying Anatabloc might mitigate the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, thyroiditis and traumatic brain injuries. It’s advertising also promotes Anatabloc for joint pain and inflammation, even though the active ingredient has only been tested in pre-clinical, animal studies. In December 2013, the FDA informed Star Scientific that it was improperly selling Anatabloc and the company needed FDA approval to sell it as a drug.

Somewhat ironically (or not) Governor McDonnell received a combined M.A./J.D. degree from Christian Broadcasting Network University (now called Regent University). Christian Broadcasting Network University was founded by Pat Robertson, conservative religious broadcaster and one time Presidential candidate. Robertson sold another dietary supplement, described as an “age defying shake” and was accused of using his tax-deductible contributions to the school  to promote a commercial product.  In one of his promotions, Robertson, then 76 years old, claimed that he could leg-press 1,000 pounds, more than the world record.

McDonnell should have seen in coming. In 2002, Tony Blair was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. His wife, Cherie Blair, became involved with another dietary supplement businessman, Peter Foster. Foster was an Australian who had been convicted and jailed on three continents for offences involving weight loss products and property transactions. Foster became a financial advisor to Blair and assisted her with the purchase of two apartments. Cherie Blair denied the involvement but evidence came out to the contrary.

As long as the dietary supplement industry can operate without showing scientific basis for its products, it will remain an easy arena for scam artists who can pocket millions, often from weight loss products. The FDA and Federal Trade Commission can do a lot more enforcement of current laws but eventually Congress will have to bring the dietary supplement industry under tougher supervision.


Complementary Therapies

September 27th, 2009 No comments »

Complementary therapies for reducing body weight: …[Int J Obes (Lond). 2005] – PubMed Result

Dietary supplements for body-weight reduction: a s…[Am J Clin Nutr. 2004] – PubMed Result

Adverse events of herbal food supplements for body…[Obes Rev. 2005] – PubMed Result

Chromium picolinate for reducing body weight: meta…[Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003] – PubMed Result

Dietary supplements for body-weight reduction: a s…[Am J Clin Nutr. 2004] – PubMed Result

Adverse events of herbal food supplements for body…[Obes Rev. 2005] – PubMed Result