HHS finds many dietary supplements making illegal health benefits claims

A new federal review of the wide array of dietary supplements and products purported to boost a person’s immune system are often illegally labeled, making claims that a manufacturer can not back with scientific evidence.

According to an Associated Press report on a new report from the Dept. of Health and Human Services, consumers are often being misled by claims made about dietary supplements that are supposed to help a person lose weight rapidly or about immune boosters that can purportedly help a person prevent illness or disease.

The HHS report included a review of safety labels and other claims made about 127 weight-loss and immune-boosting supplements commonly available at the retail level or through online merchants. Of those products, the report found that 20 of them had illegal labels, boasting claims the manufacturer couldn’t back with any scientific evidence.

Any product available to consumers that makes a medical or scientific claim must be backed by clinical data to support those claims. These supplements, the HHS found, failed to meet that standard. Some labels and products promoted their abilities to prevent or cure diseases like diabetes and AIDS.

“Consumers rely on a supplement’s claims to determine whether the product will provide a desired effect, such as weight loss or immune support,” HHS states in its report released this week. “Supplements that make disease claims could mislead consumers into using them as replacements for prescription drugs or other treatments for medical conditions, with potentially dangerous results.”

Dietary supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration the way other pharmaceutical products are subject to the agency’s rules. A producer of a dietary supplement is not required to provide pre-market data that supports claims it makes on their products.

In recent years however, the FDA has raided several makers of supplements after they were found to contain pharmaceutical products

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