St. Petersburg Times Online: World&Nation
TampaBay.com
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
tampabay.com
Back
Print story Subscribe to the Times

FDA proposes dietary supplement standards

©Associated Press
March 8, 2003

WASHINGTON -- Millions of users of St. John's wort, calcium and other dietary supplements may soon know for sure they're getting what they pay for: The government proposed the first manufacturing standards for the $19-billion supplement industry Friday in an attempt to cut fraud and contamination.

There will be no guarantee that the pills and powders deliver the health benefits advertised or are even safe to swallow. Unlike drugs, supplements can be sold without any scientific proof of safety or effectiveness.

But the Food and Drug Administration's long-awaited factory rules aim to ensure that the ingredients and dosages promised on a supplement's bottle really are inside -- without dangerous contaminants like bacteria and brain-damaging lead that have been found in some.

"Millions of Americans use dietary supplements every day, and we need to make sure they're getting the products they pay for . . . that are accurately labeled and free from contaminants," FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan said.

There are more than 1,000 makers of dietary supplements, products that range from mainstream vitamins to herbs to controversial hormones and stimulants. Ephedra, an herbal stimulant blamed for dozens of heart attacks, strokes and deaths, is the most notorious, drawing an FDA warning last week.

Supplement makers are exempt from most safety oversight, thanks to a 1994 law. Nor has there even been federal quality control: Over and over in recent years, scientists and consumer groups have uncovered fraud when testing various types and brands.

The FDA cited a bee product found to be contaminated with lead, and a brand of folic acid, required during pregnancy to reduce birth defects, that contained only a third of the promised dose.

The new manufacturing standards aim to prevent such problems with certain quality-control steps that require company testing of ingredients and finished products to verify purity and dose. Also required would be improvements in labeling and ways to handle consumer complaints.

The rules are open for public comment for three months. Final regulations are expected next year, and manufacturers then would have time to start complying: up to three years for the smallest companies. McClellan promised inspections of supplement factories, with special focus on "potential bad actors."

Print story Subscribe to the Times

Back to World & National news
Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
 
Special Links
Susan Taylor Martin


From the Times wire desk
  • Iraq: U.S. pilots report fire from Iraqis is heating up
  • Iraq: Where council members stand
  • Iraq: Iraq to Security Council: Stand up to 'law of jungle'
  • Iraq: Report solves little as U.S. seeks ultimatum
  • Dispatch from the 101st: Over the desert, through the sand
  • Cadets: Assaults destroyed dreams
  • Palestinians kill Israeli couple
  • World in brief: N. Korea may fire 2nd missile
  • Races agree on diversity, differ on method, poll finds
  • Analysts predict $1.82-trillion budget deficit
  • Obituaries of note
  • Panel rejects registration for toy recalls
  • Court cancels ADA case hearing
  • FDA proposes dietary supplement standards
  • ation in brief: 5 hopefuls will take public financing
  • raq: Divided Senate debates need for war now
  • Group urges release of detainees
  • Spanish tourney hosts best in chess

  • From the AP
    national wire
    From the AP
    world desk