1747881 tn?1546175878

Diet Supplement Causes Nearly 100 Hepatitis Cases

A popular diet supplement has caused an outbreak of severe liver disease, sickening nearly 100 people in 16 states since it was first reported in Hawaii last year, according to a new paper. The publication calls for a better system to remove dangerous supplements from the market.

As of February, OxyElite Pro, a dietary supplement manufactured by USPLabs that claims to help people burn fat, has been linked to 97 cases of hepatitis, including 47 people who were hospitalized, three who needed liver transplantations and one person who died, according to the paper, which was authored by Dr. Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a general internist at Cambridge Health Alliance.

Although people who took the supplement started getting ill in May last year, the Food and Drug Administration did not learn of the cases until four months later, in September, when doctors reported a cluster of liver illnesses in Hawaii. USPLabs stopped selling the product in October. [10 Medical Myths that Just Won't Go Away]

Health officials suspect that a new ingredient called aegeline that was added to the supplement caused the illnesses, Cohen said. Because the FDA regulates supplements only after they come to market, companies are not required to prove that their products are safe and effective before marketing them.

"This really points to the fact that there's no safety testing … before a new ingredient shows up in a supplement in the United States," Cohen said. "Guess who's the experimental animal — the consumer."

Dangerous supplements are supposed to be identified and removed quickly, but this is often not the case, as demonstrated by the hepatitis outbreak, Cohen said. Doctors can report adverse events tied to dietary supplements through an online portal called MedWatch.

But in most cases, the FDA does not receive reports of the harmful effects of supplements, Cohen said. Those cases might be reported to a poison control center, which does not communicate with the FDA, or they might not get reported at all, he said.

"Dangerous supplements remain on store shelves for weeks, months or years" because the FDA has a fractured system for monitoring supplements, Cohen said.

He proposes that all dietary supplements should be registered, and information about the supplements and their ingredients should be incorporated into a database maintained by the FDA and poison centers.

Under this organization, if a person has an adverse reaction to a supplement, it would be reported to a response team made of up doctors, toxicologists, pharmacologists and chemists. The team would then investigate the case, report to the FDA and offer advice about treating the patient.

"In the situation where we know that some supplements out there may be dangerous, we'd better have a really good system" to detect them, Cohen said.

While improved monitoring of supplements is needed, it is not the ultimate solution, Cohen said. Congress should change the law regulating supplements to require that all supplement ingredients undergo safety testing before they come to market, he said.

"Until that happens, consumers and physicians cannot be assured that the pills, powders and potions labeled as dietary supplements are safe for human consumption," Cohen wrote in the April 3 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.


I know it's not "c" but I thought it was an interesting article about supplements
11 Responses
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4670047 tn?1375730401
Haha! That is a fun fact! Now I have to look that up!!
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Avatar universal
Just a fun fact.   The gel caps that encase most of our vitamin supplements are actually made of horses hoofs!    
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3230925 tn?1397615965
So someone injected the hep c virus in the vitamin supplements?

I am the walrus coo coo ca joob I am the egg man,so does walmart sell
love? And how much does it cost?
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4113881 tn?1415850276
Interesting article...thanks!
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142526 tn?1397090672
And a lot of supplements are not safe because of what's in them that we don't know about such as heavy metals. The packaging info and ingredients may say it was bottled in the USA but the product / ingredients itself many times is from China where they contain lots of harmful metals like mercury, lead, copper, aluminum etc, the list goes on with unsafe metals. The quality assurance isn't that strict in those labs when it comes to making supplements. There are some safe supplements out there but one has to know where they actually came from and if that lab was being monitored for quality assurance.
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Avatar universal
"I always cringe here when I read people suggesting taking any supplements and people run out and start popping them without knowing what if any risks there could be. "

My sentiments exactly.
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Avatar universal
Thanks for posting this. I always cringe here when I read people suggesting taking any supplements and people run out and start popping them without knowing what if any risks there could be.

And yes thanks OH for reminding people that Hep C is not caused by supplements.
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683231 tn?1467323017
Still I have one thought.

As some of us need to shead some pounds for better health in general and to lessen the load of fat on our livers we might be tempted to try a diet supplement.

Just a reminder to be cautious with anything we take as we already have a compromised liver.

I made that misteak a few years ago. I was taking the old formula hydroxycut to lose some weight. Lost 30 pounds in 6 months. Started having gall bladder attacks 3 months later and ended up having my gall bladder removed 4 months after that.

Good luck to all
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Avatar universal
Good point.
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163305 tn?1333668571
One reminder to those reading this article: hepatitis is inflammation of the liver.
These people did not get hep C, a virus, from these supplements.
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Avatar universal
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