Loren Israelsen, president of the Utah-based consultancy, LDI Group, said recent cases involving several pro football players who were banned by the National Football League (NFL) for taking weight loss supplements containing banned diuretics, highlighted a wider problem that was potentially damaging to industry.
The products – StarCaps and Zhen De Shou Fat Loss Capsules – contained bumetanide and sibutramine respectively.
Israelsen said industry must clamp down on such products that had the potential to sully the whole sector, especially in a climate of such great political change in the US.
“Unfortunately, this pattern continues of uninformed and almost always foreign-owned companies masquerading as dietary supplement firms selling weight loss supplements spiked with drug ingredients,” he said in an email to industry members.
“Such products are largely sold on-line, thus making enforcement very difficult. The dietary supplements industry must continue to disavow and take all steps to stop this (difficult as it may be). This kind of thing is precisely what the new Congress will point to as a weakness in DSHEA.”The 1994 Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act (DSHEA) has been lauded for creating an innovative, liberated market but critics say it does not do enough to keep unsafe or unscrupulous products from market, hence the concerns of parties like Israelsen.
But Daniel Fabricant, PhD, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Washington DC-based Natural Products Association (NPA) said the relatively speedy manner in which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had reacted to the situation reflected well on DSHEA.
“The FDA could always be better resourced but hats off to them for the prompt way they have gone and got these products off the market,” he told NutraIngredients.com. “The rotten apples are getting found out more quickly.”
He said the kinds of firms that sold such products were “criminals, not companies”.
But Marc Ullman, the legal counsel to StarCaps owner, Balanced Health Products, noted the products were voluntarily withdrawn.
"This is a voluntary recall being conducted by a US-based company that has acted responsibly as soon as it confirmed the presence of bumetanide in its product," Ullman said.
He said Balanced Health was a victim of fraud "by a manufacturer based in Peru."
The other company is Fashion Sanctruary.
This story has been amended to reflect the fact the product withdrawals were voluntary.