April 24, 2000 |
Dietary supplements have become big business, no small thanks to the World Wide Web. Those vitamins, minerals, herbs and chemical concoctions are for sale on innumerable Web sites. The problem is that this catch-all category has come to include everything from so-called date-rape drugs, to products that can cause heart attacks and strokes, to modern-day snake oil. And sorting the healthful from the harmful or worthless can be tough in cyberspace, where high-tech tricks and convincing-sounding "scientific research" can make incredible claims seem reasonable.
March 1, 2009 |
A year later, the message was different. Instead of telling Phillies players that they should be safe taking over-the-counter dietary supplements, officials from the Major League Baseball Players Association yesterday told the team to beware. The warning came after Phillies reliever J.C. Romero tested positive for a banned substance last summer and was slapped with a 50-game suspension that begins on opening day. Romero tested positive for androstenedione after taking 6-OXO Extreme, an over-the-counter supplement that he purchased in New Jersey.
November 14, 2005 |
It's official: Two dietary supplements that millions of senior citizens and baby boomers already swear by for creaky knees finally have some real science behind them. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, taken together, may help reduce moderate to severe knee pain caused by osteoarthritis, the leading cause of disability in the United States, according to research to be presented this week at the American College of Rheumatology's annual meeting in San Diego. Manufacturers, who sold $734 million worth of glucosamine/chondroitin last year in this country, have eagerly awaited the results of the first large-scale, rigorously designed clinical trial of the supplements to be funded by the federal government rather than private industry.
November 7, 1997 |
Cracking down on manufacturers of the diet supplement "herbal fen-phen," the government warned consumers yesterday that some products being sold as substitutes for recently banned diet drugs may be dangerous. The Food and Drug Administration warned a Bucks County company this week that its products violate federal law and may be seized as illegal drugs. FDA officials said they were considering similar action against other companies. The diet drugs fenfluramine - the "fen" in the popular fen-phen diet combination - and its close cousin Redux were banned in September after doctors discovered the medicines may damage dieters' heart valves.
January 19, 2009 |
Before going to a hotel with his new girlfriend, Michael Murtha, 68, took a special "love potion" from a vitamin store to enhance the moment. "I looked at the bottle and there was some vague reference to be careful about potential interactions," said Murtha, who was on drugs for high blood pressure and mild diabetes. "But she was eager and I was eager so I threw it down. " It was New Year's Eve 2006. And far from the fireworks of a new love, Murtha got a queasy stomach. His heart raced.
April 9, 2013 |
The wide use of dietary supplements and the relatively few reports of bad reactions suggest these pills, powders, and potions are generally safe. The problem, said Victor J. Navarro, is that when a supplement is linked to an injury - or even death - it raises questions that rarely get answered. What ingredient (or mix) was toxic? At what dosage? Was the product contaminated? Compared with pharmaceuticals, supplements aren't nearly as closely regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and makers don't have to prove their products are safe or effective.
January 18, 2009 |
The supplement that snared J.C. Romero, 6-OXO Extreme, isn't representative of a huge and complex industry that makes many reputable and useful products. But it also isn't the industry's only controversial product. In 2004, after the Food and Drug Administration banned ephedra, Consumers Union named a "Dirty Dozen" of supplements remaining on the market. Almost all still are. Topping the list was aristolochic acid, which it said is a potent carcinogen and has been linked to kidney failure.
April 11, 1996 |
They are marketed under names like Herbal Ecstacy and Cloud 9, and they promise to boost your energy, heighten sexual sensations and deliver the same sort of euphoria as illegal drugs. But yesterday, the federal Food and Drug Administration warned consumers not to buy such dietary supplements containing the stimulant ephedrine because they can cause heart attacks, strokes, seizures and even death. The warning came after the FDA received reports in recent years on nearly 400 people who became sick after taking the supplements, including 15 who died, according to Arthur Whitmore, an agency spokesman.
January 2, 2004
The Food and Drug Administration's ban this week of the herbal stimulant ephedra is a good move, long overdue. But hold the applause. If not for a law that prevents the FDA from toughly regulating dietary supplements - a law still very much on the books - ephedra could have been yanked years ago or been prevented from being sold in the first place. Lives would have been saved. It will take a change in the law, and not just a ban, to stop more ephedra-like tragedies in the future.