Several States are Collaborating in a Joint Effort to investigate Bogus Herbal Supplements; Industry Furios

Several states’ attorneys general will work together to thoroughly investigate the business practices of the herbal supplement industry following a New York investigation that found problems with a number of products, they announced Tuesday.

The decision raised the ire or anger of industry groups, which criticized New York’s findings as inaccurate saying that these supplements are safe, useful and already subject to Food and Drug Administration scrutiny, industry groups said.

The attorneys general of New York, Connecticut, Indiana and Puerto Rico plan to work together to ensure that herbal supplement makers take the necessary steps to validate their marketing claims regarding authenticity and purity, according to a news release from the New York attorney general’s office.

A recent analysis commissioned by the said office found contaminants and other impurities, unlabeled plant species and other substances in some store-brand supplements. It has also found that in some supplements the genetic material of the original plant source was either undetectable or not present at all.

New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, said in a statement that, “New Yorkers and consumers nationwide deserve confidence that when an herbal supplement is represented as authentic, pure and natural, it should really is. Clearly, the questions we raised about the herbal supplements sold in New York resonate with those outside of our borders. By joining together, we can go further in investigating this industry and, as needed, in achieving reform.”

But this move is unfavorably criticized by the industry groups. In a statement released by Steve Mister, president and CEO of the trade group Council for Responsible Nutrition,  “it’s ironic that Schneiderman is calling for transparency when his office refuses to release its test results and methodology, which scientists familiar with botanicals and DNA testing say is inaccurate.”

Mister added that, “the New York attorney general’s office continues to ignore the scientific facts of his investigation, as well as the fact that botanical supplements are already properly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. It’s unfortunate that he has pulled other states into this misguided effort, because clearly these supplements are products that consumers find beneficial. There’s no safety issue that warrants this high-level investigation and misuse of taxpayers’ money.”

Natural Products Association CEO Daniel Fabricant also said the tests used by the New York attorney general’s office were inappropriate.

“We think this is purely politically motivated,” said Fabricant, who is also a former director of the FDA’s Division of Dietary Supplement Programs. The FDA has already been active in bringing cases against supplement makers that don’t meet requirements.  “Given the fact that the FDA has been so active, I’m not sure what benefit these efforts of the attorneys general could give to the consumer,” he concluded.

 

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