Dietary Supplement Industry is Its Own Worst Enemy

Product liability and dietary supplements

Fallout from ongoing negative reports

The dietary supplement industry’s gaffs continue to add up. I have written several blog posts about the dietary supplement industry and, unfortunately, nothing has been very positive.

One of my first posts was about how testing revealed that 25% of all supplements contained undeclared substances. Another was about how half of the 450 dietary supplement firms inspected by the FDA failed inspection. Violations included no verification of product ingredients, no inspection of finished batches and unsanitary factories. These FDA inspections of supplement manufacturers also revealed that two-thirds of the manufacturers were found to have violated good manufacturing practices.

Obviously, these are very bad reports. But they just seem to get worse and worse.

A recent inspection by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office of the dietary supplements being sold by four of the largest retailers (Walmart, Walgreens, GNC and Target) found that 79% of the supplements tested did not contain the primary ingredients listed on the labels. In other words, the gingko biloba, St. John’s wort, ginseng, garlic, enchinacea and saw palmetto were more likely to contain ground-up rice and house plants than the ingredient the consumer was paying for.

What’s next?

I am going predict what is getting ready to happen to the industry as a result of this horrific lack of quality control and regulation: Players in the dietary supplement industry are about to get their behinds sued off.

Why? Because these kind of abuses make it an easy target for shills and con artists.

A set-up has to be in the works because it’s simply too easy to pull off a Product Liability lawsuit. Anyone can go to their local Walmart, Target, Walgreens or GNC and buy about 80 bottles of supplements,  do some DNA sequencing to test them and then identify those that have foreign ingredients that aren’t listed on the label. Then they can find individuals who have allergies to the specific foreign substances and give them the supplement. Here come the Product Liability lawsuits.  I know this is an oversimplification, but I think you get where I am coming from. We all know of ambulance chasing law firms that have networks of doctors and experts ready to testify on a moment’s notice. Working out the details of how to make a Product Liability Lawsuit happen appear all too easy.

I admit to having mixed feelings about these impending Product Liability lawsuits. One the one hand, they’re going to hurt all the dietary supplement companies in the industry by causing Product Liability Insurance premiums to skyrocket which will prevent start-ups from entering the industry. On the other hand, insurance companies and agencies will stand to profit from high Product Liability premiums.

Looking ahead

At the end of the day, the dietary supplement industry will only have itself to blame. The dietary supplement industry  cannot expect to continue business as usual with constant negative press. It’s time for those in the dietary supplement industry to react and start building trust with the consumers. If it doesn’t, the government is going to step in and take over regulation of the industry.  The industry is likely only one or two disasters away from having this happen. Given the overall lax state of quality control , it only appears a matter of when, rather than if, there will be a major disaster.

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