The documentary gave another example of why there is a dire need for regulations when it comes too dietary supplements. When looking at Purity First, one can see the ramifications of not having the proper regulations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Many of the patients started to feel sick, with their voice changing and beginning to have aggression. It was later examined, after a thorough review, to have steroids. The capsules were laced with two anabolic steroids, thus causing the symptoms within countless people who used their products. Some of the symptoms included changes in organs and hair growth in females, female sexual organs taking on a male organ shape. This was all due to a suspected contamination. It was due to unclean mixtures and low regulations (Docherty, Frontline).
85 thousand supplements are for sale today, and it is really shocking to know that there are no reviews of dietary supplements before they come to the market. This is different from medical drugs, who have clinical trials before they are presented in the market. If a product is claiming to have health benefits, or even contribute to health benefits, proper testing and regulation should apply.
With dietary supplements, the only testing or obligation needed, is to see if a product is effective or safe, but this is limited by the resources and information a company can provide. For example, those inspecting do not know the total number of manufacturers to inspect. This is why formal regulation is necessary. The FDA needs proof initially to do an investigation and take a supplement off the market. It’s scarier when one realizes the methods drug companies use to either get their ingredients or the actual doses given in certain dietary pills compared to recommended amount. It’s important to regulate because this can be at the cost of a person’s life, something that can easily be avoidable.
Congress should not have passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Information Act in 1994. This is because with this act, Congress said that supplements will not be treated like drugs, even though they are taken by multiple of people, hoping to either get better, or do not know the appropriate amount to take. This act said that they do not need to make sure it is effective, and they do not need to prove that the supplements are safe (Drug Regulation). This is not right, because of the so many instances talked about that have problems with diet pills. There should be more regulation, otherwise, there will be more consequences over pills that are supposed to help a person, not cause side effects. As the documentary showed, there are people with no real pharmaceutical experience, creating pills and making them for people to consume. With the Act, at the very least, they can’t make unsupported claims, and it must say that the supplements are not evaluated by the FDA, however, this is not enough, because the labels can still say it contributes to health and well-being. The supplements need to be approved by the FDA, so a different bill with stricter regulations should have been passed.
Drug Regulation: A History of Federal Government’s relationship with drugs. PowerPoint.
Supplements and Safety. Dir. Neil Docherty. Frontline, PBS, 2016. Slide program.