AirTalk for April 17, 2013

Should FDA regulate dietary supplements?

Vitamin Sales Go Up As Consumers Struggle With Cost Of Health Care

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The American Medical Association recently published a letter online calling for more FDA oversight of dietary supplements, which are highly recalled.

New research shows the majority of drug recalls by the FDA are for dietary supplements rather than pharmaceutical drugs. The popular products used for everything from weight loss to sexual enhancement sometimes contain unapproved ingredients, including trace amounts of pharmaceuticals.

Americans spend billions a year on supplements, but the products are not required to go through any approval process by the Food and Drug Administration. Should that change? Would the FDA process unfairly slow or inhibit development of supplements? No adverse events were noted in the list of recalls, but are side effects too hard to track?


Dr. Sidney Wolfe, M.D., Founder and Director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group; Member of the Food and Drug Administration's Drug Safety and Risk Management Committee since August 2008

Marc Ullman, Attorney specializing in food and drug law with a concentration on natural products; his firm Ullman, Shapiro & Ullman, represents several supplements companies

Muhammad Mamdani, Researcher on the JAMA study; Researcher, St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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