Hundreds of dietary supplements shown to contain unapproved drugs

Weight loss & sex supplements are hiding dangerous substances inside – study

For the study, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, Kumar and his co-authors reviewed the FDA's Tainted Products Marketed as Dietary Supplements-CDER database for 2007 through 2016.

Despite these findings, more than half the time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not enforce recalls of supplements that knowingly contained potentially unsafe ingredients.

Cohen is the author an editorial that accompanies the new analysis, which was published online October 12 in JAMA Network Open.

Viagra, steroids, and appetite suppressant drugs may be helping your supplements do their job - here's where to see the list.

Almost 800 dietary supplements sold in the United States were found to be contaminated with unapproved ingredients - in some cases, drugs that have been banned by the Food and Drug Administration - in an industry analysis by California public health scientists.

Meanwhile, over half of American adults say they take dietary supplements.

The agency classifies dietary supplements - including vitamins, minerals, botanicals, amino acids and enzymes - under the category of food, rather than drugs.

Among the drugs found in sexual enhancement products were sildenafil, tadalafil and vardenafil, all active ingredients in prescription medications intended for erectile dysfunction, which, when overused, can potentially cause serious damage to the blood vessels.

Most of the adulterated dietary supplements were marketed for sexual enhancement, weight loss, and muscle building.

Among them were dapoxetine, an antidepressant that is not approved in the United States, and sibutramine, an appetite suppressant that was banned from the USA market in 2010 because of cardiovascular risks.

Now, medical experts are calling on the FDA to take more urgent action to remove these tainted supplements from the market. Gizmodo notes that the FDA does regularly screen supplement products for unapproved pharmaceutical ingredients, usually added to enhance the product's advertised effects.

The FDA's Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 essentially places the burden for evaluating supplement safety, content and labeling primarily on the shoulders of the manufacturers.

When a company refuses to voluntarily recall its products, the FDA has a number of tools it can use to get the product off the market: the agency can send a warning letter to the company, visit the factory for an inspection or issue a mandatory recall. The appetite suppressant, previously sold as Meridia, has been pulled from the market in the USA over concerns about an increased risk for cardiovascular events.

"It's mind-boggling to imagine what's happening here", said Dr. Pieter Cohen, an associate professor of medicine at the Cambridge Health Alliance in MA. And nearly all of the muscle-building supps contained synthetic steroids or steroid-like ingredients - the long-term side effects of overuse include liver, kidney, and mental health issues to name just three. "The FDA data show that anyone consuming sexual enhancement dietary supplements has the potential to be unknowingly consuming PDE5 inhibitors or SSRIs, risking interaction with other medications or pre-existing health conditions", Kumar and colleagues write. Cohen advises consumers to speak with their doctor before they start taking a supplement.

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