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Don Greiwe
Don Greiwe
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Hydroxycut: The Latest Gun in DSHEA’s Wild West

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As you probably have heard, hydroxycut has been taken off the market. On April 30th the FDA warned consumers to immediately stop using all 14 Hydroxycut products. This comes after the FDA compiled a report detailing 23 complaints of serious liver problems ranging from jaundice to liver failure requiring transplant. In one case, a 19-year-old died as a result of the associated liver damage. The manufacturers of Hydroxycut (Iovate Health Sciences) has since recalled all Hydroxycut products from retailers nationwide.

The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, or DSHEA, was brought into law the in 1990s under the Clinton administration. Most dangerously, it allows dietary supplements to enter the over-the-counter market without any formal review by the FDA. It even limits the FDA’s power to ensure honest advertising; that duty is delegated the Federal Trade Commission. So despite that 8 pt font statement that “these claims have not been evaluated by the FDA” that’s onscreen when a dietary drug claims it’s a panacea, the FDA doesn’t even yield the power to sue the manufacturers who mislead a gullible consumer base via their the supplement’s advertising. Many Americans would be shocked to know of how little regulatory power the FDA has over the dietary supplement market.

Without formal testing of these products, the dangerous propensity of certain dietary ingredients is usually not found until after enough deaths or injuries have occurred to make such a causal link. This could take years, as is the case with Hydroxycut and Ephedrine (now only legal for limited uses).

Some call it a cycle, and would expect another product in the near future to take Hydroxycut’s place in the market. Without change, this product will be untested and unproven. Now is the time for Congress to take action to amend the DSHEA. In the least, the FDA must be given the authority to more closely monitor and regulate the dietary supplement industry.

For more information, see this article. It gives more frightening details into how this latest recall is unfolding. As George Blackburn, M.D., Ph.D. states, "Every time we put a lid on it, as we did when we got rid of ephedra, now comes another round of adulterated products," he said. "Now with Hydroxycut, we have the same type of organ injury and illness, if not mortality, that comes from some unknown ingredient."

Patients should always tell their doctors of any supplements they are taking even if it is not known to be dangerous, because known injury may occur when combined with certain prescription medicines.