FDA No Longer
Monitors Herbal Supplements -
You're On Your Own
From Adrian Lake <>
Due to a lack of funds, the Food and Drug Administration 16 months ago quietly stopped tracking cases in which herbal remedies had been linked to illness or death, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Before going out of business, the monitoring system had recorded 2,621 "adverse reactions" and 184 deaths. More than 500 adverse reactions, including 38 deaths, were linked to one product alone -- ephedra, or ma-huang, used in weight-reduction and energy-boosting products.
Last week the British medical journal The Lancet warned that the herbal anti-depressant St. John's wort can stunt HIV treatment and reduce the effectiveness of immune drugs that prevent transplant rejection.
Larry Sasich, an analyst with Public Citizen Health Research Group, says, "What we're especially worried about is that totally untested products are coming into the market."
The FDA formed its Special Nutritionals Adverse Event Monitoring System in 1993 as a key element of the agency's MEDWatch program. In the 2000 budget, the FDA requested an additional $2.5 million, specifically to improve its dietary supplement monitoring system. But this request was cut out by the Senate Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies.


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