AHPA: JAMA misidentifies illegal drugs as supplements

AHPA says the letter authors "confuse illegal, adulterated drugs marketed as supplements with regulated dietary supplements in order to jump to the nonsensical conclusion that changes to supplement laws are needed."

The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) responded to a research letter, "Presence of Banned Drugs in Dietary Supplements Following FDA Recalls," published Oct. 21 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), to correct the letter for falsely identifying illegal, adulterated drugs as dietary supplements.

The authors of the letter confuse illegal, adulterated drugs that were marketed as supplements with regulated dietary supplements in order to jump to the nonsensical conclusion that changes to supplement laws are needed.

"The authors' latest effort to convince the public and policymakers to change the laws that regulate dietary supplements misses the mark because the products used in their study are not dietary supplements, they are illegal, adulterated drugs," said AHPA President Michael McGuffin. "These are not cases of enterprising individuals or organizations exploiting a loophole in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). These are cases of criminals breaking existing law. Passing new laws won't make these activities any more illegal."

Products that contain illegal and undeclared pharmaceutical ingredients present a worldwide problem and the supplement industry works with regulatory agencies to support enforcement of current laws against those who prey on the public by peddling illegal drug products.

"By falsely identifying these products, the authors also missed an opportunity to align with the responsible supplement industry which strongly agrees with the authors' call for more aggressive enforcement of current laws," McGuffin said. "AHPA is pleased that the authors have now joined the position that the supplement industry has advocated for years."

The authors also cite another research letter printed in a sister publication in 2013 that also erroneously identified drug-spiked products as 'dietary supplements.' But a letter to the editor submitted by AHPA was subsequently published to correct this error.

AHPA will be submitting letters to the editors of JAMA and other publications that misidentify illegal products as regulated supplements.

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