Fraudulent Supplements Targeted by NY Attorney General

It comes as no surprise that supplements sold in stores like Walgreens, Target, GNC, and Walmart have been found to not contain the labeled ingredient, and sometimes even contain substances that could be dangerous or harmful.

That “Big Nutra” has sought to protect from the FDA, by act of Congress, their “supplements” is a classic case of fraud against the American people.  It is just that a law enforcement agency is finally taking on not only the companies that make them, but those that distribute them.

Since many anti-vaccination folks identify with “supplements,” the findings reinforce what many physicians have said: supplements are no substitute for vaccination, and supplements need to be regulated.

Letters were sent with “Cease and Desist Notification” – to quote the letter sent

“This letter constitutes a demand to cease and desist engaging in the sale of adulterated and/or mislabeled herbal dietary supplements, and in particular to immediately stop the sale of five “Herbal Plan” dietary supplements…”

The letter goes on to show their testing of various products that were labeled:

Ginko Biloba: No ginko biloba DNA identified, but allium, rice, spruce, and asparagacae. No other plant DNA

St. John’s Wort: Negative for the DNA of St John’s Wort – and all found allium, rice, and a houseplant

Ginseng: No genseng DNA but only rice, wheat, and other plants.

Echinacea: No echninacea DNA but from other plants found

Saw Palmetto: 6 of 20 tests identified saw palmetto, but from one sample and did not replicate in other samples.

Walgreens said they would remove products from shelves nationwide. Walmart said it would rach out to the suppliers and “take appropriate action” and GNC said it would cooperate with the NY Attorney General. Target did not respond.

While the F.D.A. requires that companies verify supplements that they manufacture are safe and accurately label, they are not required to produce tests fro the FDA.  A 1994 law made the supplement and vitamin industry exempt from the approval process for prescription medications.

These supplements form what is called “Complementary Medicine,” or “alternative medicine.” In a previous post I addressed that Complementary medicine – it doesn’t complement and its not medicine. 

This is not the first time supplements have been found to not have ingredients in that they say. This also happens with probiotics, some tainted weight loss supplements have been found to contain Meridia (taken off the market because of increased heart disease and stroke).  A number of animals have been hunted to extinction (rhinoceros) because of the false idea that these horns had some worth (and often supplements said to contain that bit of rhino hair does not contain it).

I doubt the GOP will require supplement makers to prove the accuracy of their labeling or the usefulness of the ingredients. Especially since Senator Hatch, who has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from these suppliers. The GOP even has someone wanting to get rid of signs in restrooms asking employees to wash hands.

Dr. Terry Simpson About Dr. Terry Simpson
Dr. Terry Simpson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago where he spent several years in the Kovler Viral Oncology laboratories doing genetic engineering. He found he liked people more than petri dishes, and went to medical school. Dr. Simpson, a weight loss surgeon is an advocate of culinary medicine. The first surgeon to become certified in Culinary Medicine, he believes teaching people to improve their health through their food and in their kitchen. On the other side of the world, he has been a leading advocate of changing health care to make it more "relationship based," and his efforts awarded his team the Malcolm Baldrige award for healthcare in 2011 for the NUKA system of care in Alaska and in 2013 Dr Simpson won the National Indian Health Board Area Impact Award. A frequent contributor to media outlets discussing health related topics and advances in medicine, he is also a proud dad, husband, author, cook, and surgeon “in that order.” For media inquiries, please visit

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