AirTalk for November 18, 2013

Should children’s hospital patients be allowed to take herbs and supplements?

Controversial EU Ruling On Vitamins Maybe Overturned

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Will the ban drive parents to give supplements to their children in secret, putting them a further risk of problems?

Doctors usually ask you to disclose any herbs or supplements you may be taking because certain ones can interact negatively with traditional medicine. Now, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is taking an extra step by banning the use of herbs and supplements by their patients over concerns that they may interact negatively with treatment.

The hospital has created a list of herbs that will be allowed but it's aim is to "discourage" the use of supplements by patients.  If families want the patient to continue taking any herb, vitamin or supplement they will now be required to sign a waiver taking full responsibility for the outcome. The hospital will not administer them or order them through the pharmacy.

Is the hospital going too far in preventing families from making their own decisions about herbs and supplements? Will this make sure children get the best care possible without the added risk of complications from unregulated supplements? Will the ban drive parents  to give supplements to their children in secret, putting them a further risk of problems?

Guests:

Dr. Michael Carome,director of the Health Research Group at Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization in D.C.

Cara Welch, Ph.D., Senior VP of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs at the Natural Products Association, a nonprofit organization representing the supplement and natural product industry in D.C.


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