Press Release: FDA Protects Supplement Consumers From Drug-Spiked Tainted Products

Citizens for Health Supporters Urged to Visit


Contact: James Turner, 202-462-8800
James Gormley, 202-695-2027

Washington, D.C., November 1, 2012 – Citizens for Health (CFH) believes that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should provide, and avoid blocking, useful information that consumers can use to make their own health choices.

In this spirit, Citizen for Health calls attention to an effort by the FDA that we support wholeheartedly. When it comes to protecting consumers from products that masquerade as dietary supplements, but that actually contain undeclared drugs, drug analogs, or steroids, by informing consumers FDA is serving as the safety agency that we as consumers urge it to be.

Under U.S. law, dietary supplements may contain a wide variety of ingredients, from nutritional substances such as vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, to botanical ingredients and a range of other ingredients that are used to supplement the diet. Although we do not always see eye-to-eye with FDA on where the exact boundary for allowable dietary ingredients lies, we agree with the agency that neither pharmaceutical drugs nor steroids are allowed in lawfully marketed supplement products.

Unfortunately, there are marketers who have placed their own profits before the health of those who use their products, and FDA has identified over 400 products since 2008 that were found through the agency’s analysis to be spiked with an undeclared drug or steroid ingredient. Most of these products have been marketed either for weight loss, body building, or sexual enhancement. FDA’s enforcement actions have included consumer advisories, product recalls, and in a few cases criminal indictments, and regulatory agencies in many other countries are also confronting these same illegal products.

In its efforts to combat this problem, FDA has also reached out to the trade associations that represent responsible marketers of dietary supplements to ask for their assistance to educate the industry about this problem and to develop strategies to combat it. One of these organizations, the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), has developed a website that can keep you informed on this issue.

This site,, links to FDA’s consumer advice on how to avoid these products, and is updated every time FDA, or any international regulator, announces any action against a marketer of an illicit, tainted product.

If you are a consumer of health-promoting dietary supplements, especially those in the product areas most likely to be contaminated with undeclared ingredients (e.g., weight loss, body-building or sexual enhancement) you can protect yourself from inadvertently consuming a hidden drug or steroid by staying informed through the AHPA’s

From that site you can find the specific names of tainted and drug-spiked products identified by regulators around the world, sign up for an FDA RSS feed for future updates, and learn how to report suspicious products to FDA.

Stay informed and stay healthy! Dietary supplement users can have confidence in the quality of the vast majority of dietary supplement products, but should also be wary when they encounter products with claims that sound too good to be true.

About Citizens for Health

Founded in 1992 Citizens for Health (or CFH), The Consumer Voice of the Natural Health Community,  is one of the nation’s most respected and powerful non-profit consumer action groups dedicated to providing a voice and a platform for informed and effective health activism. CFH provides nearly 100,000 supporters with credible and well-researched consumer news, action alerts, and opportunities to protect and expand access to innovative dietary supplements, healthy food, non-toxic products and integrative healthcare.

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Comments (3)

I’m glad to see they should provide information and avoid blocking supplements. However, I believe this should be brought to the next level. Some supplements, specifically supplements including steroids, should be legal and marketed as such. Provide the customer with all correct information (rather than hiding behind misinformed labels due to fear of legal ramifications), and allow the customer to make their choices on their own. Provide all the warnings clearly, and if they want to run a steroid cycle, provide information on how to do so properly and as safely as possible. Everything in life can cause harm, but the risks can be greatly reduced when educated. You aren’t born knowing to look both ways before you cross the street. You are taught to do so. This is just my opinion however, thanks.

What a fantastic article. Thanks, James. Commending FDA for what they are doing right is just as important, if not more so, than pointing out what they’re doing wrong. Well done!!!

Public should always choose safe and effective supplements from reputable companies.

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