Dietary Supplements

Is regulation of the industry too lax?


Dietary supplements, which are sold without prescriptions and include vitamins, energy boosters, herbal preparations and weight-loss aids, have mushroomed into a $37 billion industry, with as many as half of American adults using them. But critics argue that many supplements are ineffective or dangerous and that federal oversight of the industry is too lax. Supplements cause more than 20,000 emergency room visits annually, and since 2007 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has identified more than 600 supplements tainted with substances such as steroids that are illegal or available only by prescription. The New York State Attorney General's Office this year found that many herbal supplements sold by major retailers contained none of the ingredients listed on their labels. The industry, aided by powerful lawmakers ...

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