PBS Says Supplements Tested Poorly; NPA Urges Full Disclosure

October 26, 2010

The Natural Products Association (NPA; Washington, DC) is urging PBS’s “NewsHour” show to disclose which supplement brands were tested following an October 21 segment that reported that no active ingredient and misidentified substances were found in some products.

The Natural Products Association (NPA; Washington, DC) is urging PBS’s “NewsHour” show to disclose which supplement brands were tested following an October 21 segment that reported that no active ingredient and misidentified substances were found in some products.

Tests performed on several types of herbal supplements, including black cohosh and ginkgo, were led by botanist Dennis Stevenson and New York gynecologist David Baker. (The full transcript of the segment can be found here.) The report states, for instance, that 30% of the black cohosh supplements tested in fact showed no trace of black cohosh. The researchers also stated: “Admittedly, our sample size was too small to be statistically significant.”

NPA is requesting that “NewsHour” release the names of the products it tested as well as its research data, including information on testing methodology, to FDA “so that proper action can take place.” Dan Fabricant, NPA’s vice president of global government and scientific affairs, and the letter’s author, stated, “By sharing this information, you can benefit all consumers of dietary supplements.”

In his letter, Fabricant also made sure to underline that the dietary supplements industry is regulated under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act and FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices. “NewsHour” had stated that the industry is “one of America’s…least regulated industries” and referred to the industry as the “Wild West of self-medication.”