Health Stores May be Selling Supplements That Can Be Extremely Unhealthy


October 26, 2013

Many people patronize health stores in virtually every mall in Atlanta and throughout Georgia that market so-called “nutritional supplements.”  Unfortunately, a few of these supplement designed to increase energy, reduce weight and build muscle can be decidedly unhealthy.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have the same regulatory authority over supplements as it does drugs.  This lack of safety regulation can lead to dangerous substances being marketed as weight loss pills or muscle building workout aids.

When companies are forced to close because their products are found to be dangerous, the principals involved in the business will often simply change the name and re-label the product so that they are right back in business.  The USA Today recently published an article about Matt Cahill, who serves as a cautionary tale for those who use nutritional supplements.  Although Cahill has previously served time in federal prison for selling dangerous weight loss pills, he has allegedly marketed a world of other potentially dangerous substances according to the USA Today report.  Cahill’s previous conviction stems from mixing a dangerous toxic pesticide with baking powers and selling it over the counter in capsule form as a weight loss drug according to the article.  Cahill has no formal scientific training, college degree or staff of scientists according to the article.

The USA Today report provides a number of tragic stories from those who allegedly suffered adverse effects from ingesting substances marketed by Cahill’s ever morphing businesses, such as:

  • Steve Francischetti who experienced liver damage after taking a supplement intended to build muscle which Cahill’s marketed as he was headed to prison.
  • Leta Hole who was in her senior year of high school when she overdosed on a substance marketed as a weight loss pill that contained DNP, an industrial chemical use in the manufacturing of pesticide and gun powder.  The substance which was briefly used during the 1930s as a weight loss drug led directly to Congress enacting the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act after many people suffered blindness, cataracts and death.  One report prepared by the FDA estimates that as many as 2,500 people may have lost their vision because of the substance.  The version of the substance marketed by Cahill’s company and taken by Ms. Hole came with no labeling, warnings or dosage instructions.

Cahill’s story is just one example of an industry that is not closely regulated, which creates an environment where unscrupulous parties can cause devastating consequences.  The supplement industry is filled with companies that market products that have not been subjected to testing or safety regulations.  The businesses that market supplements can be run by those with criminal backgrounds with virtual immunity according to the Amy Eichner of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.  “These are not fringe players; these are mainstream dietary supplement companies and products that are in your mainstream health and nutrition stores.  It’s not that there are a few bad actors.  There are a lot of bad actors,” according to Eichner.

The problem is that the FDA has limited regulatory authority over supplements.  Drugs must be approved by the FDA before they may be marketed to the public after clinical trials.  The FDA also requires that drugs only be marketed for approved uses and that drugs be labeled to indicate potential risks and adverse effects.  By contrast, federal law generally assumes supplements are safe unless this is expressly proven not to be true.  The FDA authority to intervene in the case of a supplement is like its authority with food so the agency must be able to establish that the substance is unsafe under any circumstance. 

Put our Law Firms' 30 Years of Experience to Work for You!

If you or someone close to you suffers injury or wrongful death that may be linked to use of a dietary supplement, an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney at Montlick and Associates is available to provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast.

No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333).  You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Personal Injury

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