Liver Let Die

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Screen Shot 2013-10-09 at 1.15.10 PMIn the neverending battle between the unregulated multibillion dollar supplements industry and legitimate medicine, this shady industry is trying to recover from a pretty good licking it received today from the FDA.

The agency, which had been investigating a cluster of 29 cases of severe liver damage in Hawaii, put two and two together before issuing a health advisory, and USPLabs of Dallas isn t looking so wonderful right now. Twenty four of the cases (which include at least one death and two liver transplants) involved people taking one of their products: a dietary supplement called OxyElite Pro an unapproved concoction of drugs that is being used as a weight loss aid and performance enhancing drug for athletes.

In fact, the NFL Players Association is warning its members to avoid using this "potentially fatal weight-loss supplement."

Those of you who may be in the mood for some laughable corporate-speak may enjoy USPLabs s statement: "[USPLabs] stand[s] by the safety of all of its products ¦ the cluster of liver issues in Hawaii is a complete mystery.

Yet, USPLabs said it will stop distributing OxyElite Pro until the investigation is finished. Indeed, their website says that the product is no longer available.

ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom, a long-time critic of the supplement industry says, A complete mystery? I don t think so. When companies sell unapproved drugs under the guise of supplements (which, because of a sleazy law pushed through Congress by Utah s Sen. Orrin Hatch in 1994, are exempt from FDA approval) and they start killing people, the real mystery is how companies are allowed to sell this garbage, and why more people haven t been killed.

What exactly sickened and killed these people here isn t yet clear. But, the most likely possibilities are: 1) OxyElite Pro, which contains a number of drugs that can be toxic at even moderately high doses; 2) Assuming these drugs are what is actually supposed to be in the bottle a very bad assumption to make the actual dose may be much higher than a previous batch, and 3) There is something else in there possibly a contaminant that is causing the problems.

Dr. Bloom continues, Sooner or later someone will figure out what the problem is in this case, and then it will only be a matter of time until this ridiculous exercise is repeated with another supplement. These supplement companies have done an absolutely splendid job of portraying themselves as the little guys knights in shining armor that provide an alternative to those deadly drugs from the pharmaceutical industry. The problem is that this is utterly false. The supplement industry is enormous and takes advantage of America s scientific naivety in an insidious, but highly effective way. Stay tuned. It won t be long before we have another case like this.

You can read Dr. Bloom s op-ed in The American Spectator about how supplements get a free ride and for nothing but bad reasons.