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Dangerous supplements: LegitScript global program helps consumers, companies assess products

Supplements and other healthcare products that claim to help with weight loss, erectile dysfunction, bodybuilding or even cancer treatment are a big business. They are also a dangerous business. Products that have not been approved as safe and effective and that seem benign but contain hidden active pharmaceutical ingredients can be life-threatening, but not all of them are being kept out of the marketplace. Only 222 of 332 adulterated dietary supplements identified by the Food and Drug Administration as containing APIs have been the subject of a recall, according to a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. This means that more than 30 percent of the products the FDA identified as potentially dangerous because they contained undeclared drugs — 110 different products — remained available for purchase.

Indeed, LegitScript has found that a large percentage of the products — for example, the weight loss supplements meizitang and fruta planta — are still available to buy online. Moreover, this article suggests that additional products, like Sex Plus, that were found to contain pharmaceuticals by independent lab tests that were provided to the FDA have yet to be the subject of a public warning by the agency. As a result, a consumer might not be aware that a supplement they’re about to use could be unsafe and potentially harmful. LegitScript is trying to change that.

LegitScript’s Problematic Healthcare Products Program

LegitScript tracks warnings from more than 60 government agencies worldwide to identify potentially unsafe dietary supplements and other healthcare products. In an effort to protect consumers from the dangers that might lurk in seemingly safe products, LegitScript makes the warnings publicly available via the Check Healthcare Product Legitimacy search feature on its home page. For some examples, see the entries for meizitang and fruta planta, which contain links to government-issued warnings.

Through its Problematic Healthcare Products program, endorsed by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, LegitScript monitors and classifies warnings issued by healthcare and consumer protection authorities around the world. The program documents similar, clear-cut cases of fraudulent or dangerous healthcare product sales worldwide and is the only one of its kind recognized by the NABP, which represents pharmacy licensing boards in the US and Canada.

Many of the world’s biggest Internet search platforms and social media outlets rely on LegitScript’s program for monitoring and classifying dietary supplements, designer drugs and similar products. Basic information about product safety is provided to Internet users for free through the LegitScript home page, with monitoring, bulk searching and extended information available for a subscription fee.