“As a paid-for testing program, ConsumerLab has a lot of influence over public perception of the supplements they test; however, transparency is a pillar of good science,” said NPA scientific and regulatory affairs manager, Cara Welch, PhD.
“Solid scientific results require labs to be operating under appropriate GMP procedures as well as utilizing scientifically valid testing; without providing this information, ConsumerLab makes it impossible to comment on the report’s validity or accuracy.”
The report in question being ConsumerLab’s recent survey of DHEA products.
Publication of standards
But ConsumerLab president Tod Cooperman, MD responded by saying his company published its standards with each product review – including the DHEA survey that prompted NPA’s comments.
“ConsumerLab always provides testing information free to the public for every review,” Cooperman said, noting such information for the DHEA survey could be found here.
“In fact, ours is the only testing group that provides that transparency. In addition, as clearly noted in our release, the majority of products in the report were selected by ConsumerLab.”
“Two products, clearly noted as having been certified through testing in our Voluntary Certification Program, are included in the report. Those products undergo the same testing as the products that we select.”
Cooperman invited the NPA or other parties to contact his company if they had further questions about its methods, adding the ConsumerLab website notes all products it surveyed are, “tested at nationally and internationally recognized independent commercial and academic laboratories that are qualified and selected by CL based on their expertise for the type of specific testing needed for each product.”
ConsumerLab’s reference testing methods and measurements were questioned recently by American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) in regard to a survey ConsumerLab conducted of valerian products.
The issue there was the measurement of various valerenic acids, their sources (dried versus fresh for instance), and the manner in which European Pharmacopeia (EP) standards had been applied.
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) survey
The DHEA product survey found 11 of 12 products in the $55m category met their label claims, but one provided only 14.7 percent of its on-label amount. ConsumerLab also raised questions about the steroid hormone's purported health benefits.
"Levels of DHEA decrease with age, which is why it has been promoted as a 'fountain of youth,' Cooperman said. ”Several studies have shown that it does not improve strength or general well-being in seniors. But DHEA may improve skin condition, sexual function and libido, and osteoporosis in older individuals."