A series of recent articles in The New York Times, including a hard-hitting editorial (Conflict of Interest at the F.D.A., April 13, 2015), uncovers how the Food and Drug Administration has been reluctant to regulate popular health supplements that were revealed to contain dangerous ingredients.
In question are Popular weight-loss and workout supplements sold nationally containing a chemical – BMPEA – that is nearly identical to amphetamines. This powerful stimulant is suspected to be a serious health risk and in December 2014, Canadian health authorities pulled all supplements containing BMPEA from shelves.
The FDA identified nine popular supplements in 2013 that contained the chemical, but never made the information public. Despite broad concerns over the safety of BPMEA the FDA continues to insist that it “does not identify a specific safety concern at this time,” with regards to the stimulant.
What The New York Times discovered, and other experts have long suspected is that is reluctant to police the health supplement industry because top agency regulators themselves come from the industry and have conflicts of interest. In recent years, two of the agency’s top officials overseeing supplements — including one currently on the job — were former leaders of the largest supplement industry trade and lobbying group.
The health risks of the amphetamine-like stimulant are unclear, and the FDA has yet to do any testing, in spite of demands for testing from such notable organizations as The Council for Responsible Nutrition and The Journal of the American Medical Association. In a paper published recently, Dr. Pieter Cohen of Harvard Medical School and other academics urged an immediate recall of all supplements containing BMPEA.
Formerly Dr. Daniel Fabricant headed the FDA’s division of dietary supplements until he returned in 2014 to a senior position at the Natural Products Association, a trade group for supplement makers and sellers. The current director is Cara Welch, who is from the same trade group. Neither directer showed any inclination to act on BMPEA.
Perhaps they are more concerned of damaging the $33 billion dollar industry they were part of, because at present they show no indication of being concerned for the consumers whom they are charged with protecting.
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