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Tainted Supplements Galore: FDA Warns Public About Risky Products

In the past 10 days, the FDA has issued more than 25 public notifications regarding tainted supplements — all of which contain one or more undeclared ingredients designed to assist in weight loss or solve erectile woes. Shockingly, two of these tainted supplements contain phenolphthalein, a genotoxic (i.e., it can damage or cause mutations to your DNA) and suspected carcinogen.

These 25 notifications within the span of 10 days should make you wonder: just how popular are weight-loss and erectile-dysfunction supplements in the US, and why are they finding so many now?

I have some theories. Maybe Valentine’s Day was a bust: a day filled with roses, chocolates, and a dinner for two at a five-star (and two-paycheck) restaurant ended in bedroom troubles. Purchasing illegal ED supplements, such as African Superman and Male Silkworm Moth Nourishing Oral Liquid (side note: Ew!), appeared to be a quicker solution than speaking to a licensed physician. Or perhaps a New Year’s resolution to shed some holiday weight failed miserably when Cinnabon set up shop next door and popping a few pills of Seven Slim seemed like a better solution than avoiding the 1,080 calories of the Caramel Pecanbon on a daily basis.

Whatever the case may be, the FDA’s recent push is a clear indication that the illicit supplement market is alive and well. One of the best ways to combat the sale of these drugs is through the spread of information about their potential to cause serious harm. We at LegitScript strive to maintain and update a publicly available database that anyone can use to check if a product contains any hidden ingredients that may pose a threat to one’s health.

Additionally, the FDA recently released a statement regarding weight-loss supplements and listed several warning signs to look for on product labels that can indicate a possible tainted product. These include:

  • promises of a quick fix, for example, “lose 10 pounds in one week.”
  • use of the words “guaranteed” or “scientific breakthrough.”
  • products marketed in a foreign language.
  • products marketed through mass emails.
  • products marketed as herbal alternatives to an FDA-approved drug or as having effects similar to prescription drugs.

If you’re feeling pressure to reach a target weight or to perfect a date night, remember that quick-fix supplements are misleading and, oftentimes, dangerous.