WEDNESDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. health authorities Wednesday intensified pressure on makers of dietary supplements, warning individuals or companies marketing "tainted" products that they could face criminal prosecution, among other consequences.
The move comes after several reports of injury and even death from the use of illegal supplements that are deceptively labeled or contain undeclared ingredients. These include those laced with the same active ingredients as drugs already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, analogs (close copies) of those drugs or novel synthetic steroids that don't qualify as dietary ingredients.
"Some contain prescription drugs or analogs never tested in humans and the results can be tragic," said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, principal deputy commissioner at the FDA, at a Wednesday news conference. "We have received reports of serious adverse events and injuries associated with consumer use of these tainted products, including stroke, liver and kidney damage, pulmonary failure and death."
Since 2007, he added, FDA has issued alerts on 300 tainted products.
"FDA is calling attention to an important public health problem," Sharfstein said. "Serious injuries have resulted from products masquerading as dietary supplements. . . They're usually poorly labeled so consumers don't know what they're buying."
Most of the illegal products are marketed in three categories: to promote weight loss, to enhance sexual prowess and as body-building products, the agency noted.
The weight-loss products identified with problems include Slimming Beauty, Solo Slim and Slim-30, which contain sibutramine (or analogs), the active ingredient in the FDA-approved drug Merida, recently withdrawn from pharmacy shelves due to a heightened risk of heart attack and stroke.
The body-building products include Tren Xtreme, ArimaDex and
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