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Who’s Making the Diet Supplements You’re Taking?

Published on Dec 13, 2013 at 7:13 pm in Dangerous Drugs.

Kentucky Dangerous DrugsBack in October, I wrote a blog about the FDA cautioning people to stop using any supplement labeled OxyElite Pro. The product has been linked to cases of acute hepatitis and liver failure. Several users required liver transplants, and one died.

The supplement was marketed to target body fat by the USPlabs in Dallas. Records now show that USPlabs has run afoul with regulators before, and its head has a criminal background involving anabolic steroids.

The company has ceased U.S. distribution of OxyElite Pro, yet it is still claiming its product has nothing to do with the outbreak, even though there are at least 48 cases now of reported non-viral Hepatitis from OxyElite Pro users.

USA Today reports that the USPlabs CEO is the “second dietary supplement industry official with a criminal history whose products have come under scrutiny in recent weeks because of safety concerns.” The other is the CEO of Driven Sports Vice President, whose pre-workout powder, Craze, was found to contain a methamphetamine-like ingredient. Driven Sports response is that the scientists are wrong.

Both USPlabs and Driven Sports are members of the supplement industry group, American Herbal Products Association. Trying to probe the connection, USA Today contacted the association for comment, but it did not respond.

How Can Consumers Protect Themselves?

The U.S. government currently treats supplements more like food than as drugs. What should be disconcerting is that both USPlabs and Driven Sports have won awards from the supplements industry.

The Craze product was marketed as an “all natural” compound that gave users “unrelenting energy and focus” in workouts. Bodybuilding.com named it 2012’s “New Supplement of the Year,” and it was sold by Walmart online and in GNC stores. Apparently several tests have found an amphetamine-like compound. The tests were initially triggered after several athletes failed drug tests, after taking the Craze powder.

Perhaps the best protection for consumers is the old adage that if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. You’re no doubt safer relying on products recommended by healthcare officials or stores that you trust to know and understand the ingredients in products. One doctor says that supplement companies are developing these drugs in labs with no quality control, and the truth about what’s in them may not be known to anyone but the manufacturers.