Plants have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. However, herbal supplements haven’t been subjected to the same scientific scrutiny and aren’t as strictly regulated as medication. Many people think that because herbs are natural, and because they are being marketed and sold legally, they must be safe and effective. Furthermore, surveys of the public indicate that most people believe these products are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In fact, both assumptions are mistaken.
Supplements are sold online, and at retail outlets purportedly focused on health, exercise and well-being. They are often marketed as brain or energy boosters. However, some herbal supplements — including products labeled as “natural” — have drug-like effects that can be dangerous. By defining herbal supplements and botanicals as dietary supplements, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) exempted them from the more rigorous standards used by the FDA in regulating food, drugs, and medical devices—essentially leaving it up to the industry to regulate itself. This self-policing policy has led to numerous tragic outcomes over the years, including debilitating diseases causing injury and death.
Millions of Americans continue to buy herbal supplements based on the belief that because they are available for retail sale, they have been safely manufactured and adequately tested, and believing they will improve their quality of life. Often, this is simply not the case. Exactly what ingredients are added to these supplements, and what body part or function they purport to help, is largely up to the product’s manufacturer to determine. Remarkably, ingredients may not even be listed on the packaging. Existing laws make it difficult if not impossible for the FDA to regulate problematic supplements.
Producing a dangerous drug or purportedly natural dietary supplement, and failing to reveal the dangerous side effects, constitutes negligence, and may form the basis of a legal claim to recover for the damages caused. The attorneys at the law office of Swartz & Swartz, P.C. are well versed in the investigation and prosecution of such claims. Call (617) 742-1900, or for clients in greater Massachusetts, New England, or other states across the U.S., call toll-free at 1-800-545-3732.