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Study Misidentifies Unnamed Illegal Drug Product as Dietary Supplement

(January 16, 2008, Silver Spring, MD) - - Physician researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have misidentified an illegal drug product as a dietary supplement, and released a sensational press release yesterday that erroneously claims that “hormonal dietary supplements” may “promote the progression of prostate cancer.” The researchers were looking into two cases of men who developed “aggressive prostate cancer” after taking an unnamed product that was found to contain unlisted ingredients, including testosterone and estradiol. Both of these hormone ingredients are drugs that are not lawful ingredients in dietary supplements. The researchers refused to name the products.

The press release was issued by the medical center to publicize an article that is pending publication in the journal Clinical Cancer Research. As of this morning, the article is not yet available at the journal’s website. The press release also notes that the researchers notified the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of their findings, and that FDA subsequently forced the product to be removed from the market.

Dr. Shahrokh Shariat, the lead author of the pending article, was quoted in the press release as stating that the current U.S. regulations provide “little oversight or assurances” that dietary supplement labels “provide accurate information for consumers.” This is not accurate, however, since dietary supplement labels are required by law to declare all product ingredients. Those who market illegal drugs, whether as prescription drug counterfeits or by calling them dietary supplements, do not observe these laws.

“I can think of no reason why scientists who do not know the difference between a dietary supplement and an illegal drug insist on protecting the product’s marketer and increasing consumer risk by refusing to identify the specific brand” said Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA).

An accurate description of the unidentified product, if the researchers’ analysis was accurate, is that it is an illegal drug that was misrepresented as a dietary supplement. AHPA decries the presence of such products in the marketplace and applauds any and all efforts by FDA, the medical community and consumers to see that they are promptly removed and that marketers of such unlawful drugs are dealt with severely.

“AHPA has a long-standing policy of encouraging consumers of herbal supplements inform their healthcare provider of such use,” added AHPA’s McGuffin, “and I note that Dr. Shariat and his colleagues are now suggesting that physicians ask their patients about supplement use. But AHPA has also long encouraged healthcare providers to seek out accurate and truthful information about herbs and their regulation, and this press release will do nothing to help meet this goal.”


The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) is the only national trade association devoted to herbal issues. Representing the core of the botanical trade—comprised of the finest growers, processors, manufacturers and marketers of herbal products—our mission is to promote the responsible commerce of herbal products. AHPA committees generate self-regulations to ensure the highest level of quality with respect to the way herbal products are manufactured, labeled, and sold. Celebrating our 25th anniversary in 2007! Website:

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