Thursday, May 27, 2010

Congress and Supplements

The Special Senate Committee on Aging held a hearing May 25 on Capitol Hill to hear testimony on the current state of regulations for dietary supplements, which have long been a growing part of the health regimens of senior Americans.

The first phase of the hearing kicked off with a review of GAO’s recent investigation into deceptive supplement marketing practices provided by Gregory D. Kutz, managing director of the Forensic Audits and Special Investigations, GAO. Kutz explained how, repsonding to a request from Sen. Kohl to look into supplement marketing concerns, GAO undertook a two-part investigation. First it engaged (visited or called) 22 storefront and mail order retailers in DC and Florida, posing as elderly customers. He reported disease claims found and misleading advice was given both in product literature and in retailer dialogue. He played a video of some such communications with retailers, and showed the panel two products with illegal claims on the labels.

Next, GAO purchased 40 single-herb supplements from manufacturers and had them tested by an independent lab recommended by FDA. They found trace amounts of various heavy metals in 37 of the products, but Kutz reported upon referring them to FDA and FTC, neither agency found the levels of concern relative to the public’s health and safety. However, Kutz said GAO was concerned that many retailers and marketers were aggressively marketing supplements, often using disease claims or suggesting customers swap their meds for supplements.

For the rest of the detailed report, go here, the source.

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