Dangerous Supplements Contain Drugs.

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The New York Times ran a piece the other day on supplements that have been “contaminated” with drugs.  It seems that Chinese made herbal formulas for things like erectile dysfunction may contain things like, say, Viagra.

The FDA claims it can’t keep up with policing all the new things coming out, and wants more regulation.  Meanwhile the supplement industry says there is plenty of regulation, the FDA just needs to enforce it.

Two things are lost in the argument.  The first is the idea that herbal formulas that haven’t been mixed with drugs are somehow safe.  It is really a polite way of saying herbs aren’t effective.  Anyone who works with herbs knows they can been extremely potent and potentially dangerous.  That leads to the second thing, which is that despite big pharma‘s best efforts people are flocking to alternatives in droves.  But they aren’t getting any oversight from their doctors, meaning that they are self-prescribing things that may or may not contain the ingredients on the wrapper.

We need to move forward with the idea of an educated consumer who can discuss alternatives with his or her doctor and receive an open-minded, educated response.  “Just say no,” has not worked with supplements, so we need to take the steps to make sure those consuming are getting what they think they are with oversight.


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