The laissez faire world of dietary supplements

Every year, more than 2000 Americans experience a serious negative effect (either death or illness) from taking over-the-counter dietary supplements. Since 1994, it's been legal to sell supplements without prior safety testing. Even when someone gets sick, the burden of proof is on the FDA to prove the supplement caused it, rather than on the supplement company to prove it didn't. The Dallas Morning News reports on the lack of oversight and what it costs us.

Notable Replies

  1. 2000 a year out of 314 million is significant? I would imagine that many a day get sick from milk or canned food or whatever. How about FDA approved medicines - how many people a year die from them? I think it's better to keep the FDA (controlled, or at least heavily influenced, by the multi-national pharmaceutical corporations) out of this one.

  2. "Express flattery followed by caution and concern. Repeat just-debunked fallacy of Big Pharma vs. Little Guy. Token mention of alternatives to vitamins to deflect accusations. Scary communist EU!"

    All that, and you just signed up today. This is the most obvious astroturf I've ever seen.

  3. Indeed. So yet another example how an important right for people can harm society when naïvely applied to corporations.

    A difference is that if there were some indication I was personally selling something that poisons people, I expect it would get stopped long before I went to court.

  4. LDoBe says:

    So you'd rather have an underfunded and slow FDA prove things which are meant to be consumed are poison after the fact, than make corporations prove they're safe before they get to sell them to consumers who assume the product is safe?

  5. LDoBe says:

    By that logic we shouldn't hold restaurants to strict standards of cleanliness because it cuts into their bottom lines and creates a barrier to entry as well. Also, automakers shouldn't be held to safety standards like requiring vehicles have seat belts, headlights and windshield wipers.

    Proving that your dietary supplement isn't poisonous should absolutely be a barrier to entry, since they're marketed as if they're drugs. They're technically treated like foods, but let's be serious here, they're filling the same market niches as drugs, and people assume they're held to standards of purity, safety and effectiveness because of that association. If the producers want their supplements treated in a regulatory sense as foods, then they shouldn't be allowed to turn around and market them as drugs. It's deceptive and is harmful to the public who trusts that drugs are held to a high standard.

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