Protecting Patients From Useless, Harmful Dietary Supplements a Never-Ending Challenge | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

It can be a short walk from “misleading and unsupported claim” to “dangerous” when it comes to dietary supplements. At best, a falsely advertised product will do nothing. At worst, users can get seriously injured or die.

Federal regulators sometimes work proactively to protect patients from unproven and potentially harmful dietary supplements by identifying and blocking the sale or advertising of questionable products. The most-recent example of this comes from the Federal Trade Commission. Under pressure, CVS/pharmacy has settled charges brought by the FTC about AirShield supplements CVS had touted for preventing and curing colds. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved those claims for the mix of zinc, vitamin C and echinacea.

The FTC has concluded settlements over similar unproven cough and cold products with the maker of the zinc-based supplement Airborne and with Rite Aid, which marked its own Germ Defense zinc products.

None of the dietary supplements targeted by the FTC appear to have injured users. The same cannot be said about the recently recalled bodybuilding supplement Hydroxycut or all the supplements containing ephedra that the FDA ordered off the U.S. market in 2004.

The take home messages are that patients cannot take claims about the effectiveness or safety of dietary supplements at face value. “Natural” does not mean “good.” and patient protections must remain strong.

About the Editors: Shapiro & Appleton& Duffan personal injury law firm is based in Virginia (VA), near the Northeast North Carolina (NC) border. Lawyers with the firm practice primarily in the southeastern U.S. and handle injury law cases, including car, truck and railroad accidents, medical negligence cases and more. The firm’s website is Lawyers with Shapiro & Appleton& Duffan also edit the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard and have compiled a video library covering many FAQs on personal injury subjects. The firm’s lawyers are licensed in VA, NC, SC, WV, DC and KY.