Many people turn to so-called “natural” and “homeopathic” supplements and vitamins in an effort to reduce the number of prescription drugs they take to manage health conditions. Others simply dislike the idea of taking prescription medications.
Although some supplements and vitamins can be beneficial, they should always be taken under the supervision of a qualified doctor. Before you ingest any kind of supplement or vitamin, it’s important to know exactly what you’re putting in your body.
Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a warning regarding the dangers of homeopathic teething gels and tablets marketed for use in babies. According to the FDA’s press announcement, these teething gels and tablets may cause seizures in infants and children.
Obviously, parents and caregivers need to be on high alert when it comes to using over-the-counter and homeopathic remedies for babies and children. This announcement underscores the importance of speaking to a pediatrician before using any medication or supplement at home.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a drug, vitamin, or supplement, you may be entitled to compensation for your injury and other losses. Speak to an experienced medical malpractice and defective drug lawyer as soon as possible to ensure your legal rights are protected.
Vitamins and Supplements Do Not Need FDA Approval
Many people are surprised to learn that vitamins and supplements are not subject to the same regulatory requirements as prescription drugs. Specifically, manufacturers of vitamins and supplements do not need FDA approval to sell their products to the public.
Instead, the laws makes vitamin and supplement manufacturers responsible for policing their own products. According to the FDA, manufacturers are only required to notify the FDA in cases where they intend to produce a new ingredient. Even in those cases, the FDA only reviews the ingredient — the agency does not test it or approve it prior to sale.
The FDA will intervene if it receives reports or notices of a vitamin or supplement causing health or safety problems. The agency will also take action in cases where a manufacturer makes false or misleading claims, such as claiming that its product treats conditions or helps improve medical problems that it is not capable of treating or helping.
Unfortunately, this usually only happens after someone has gotten sick from taking a vitamin or supplement.
Dietary Supplements and Vitamins Linked to Deaths
Sadly, many “natural” supplements and vitamins have caused serious harm and even death — and in many cases, the harmful substance in the supplement or vitamin was, indeed, entirely natural. Just because an herb or mineral is naturally-occurring, however, does not mean it’s safe or safe for everyone.
In the late 1990s, the diet supplement industry was dominated by sales of supplements containing ephedra, an herb that acts as a stimulant. Ephedra was sold over-the-counter in numerous diet pills.
The problem was that too much ephedra began causing people to experience heart palpitations, high blood pressure, and heart arrhythmia. In some cases, people suffered strokes and heart attacks. Seven people died in 2004 after taking ephedra. The drug caused 14 other deaths prior to 2004, and another two fatalities in 2005 and 2007.
The FDA banned ephedra in weight loss products in 2004, and health experts say the nationwide ban has caused the number of ephedra-poisoning cases to decline dramatically. One doctor said the ban has come close to eradicating ephedra-related health problems completely.
The story behind ephedra is a sobering reminder of the importance of using extreme caution when taking any type of supplement or vitamin. Always talk to your doctor before taking a vitamin, weight loss pill, or any kind of supplement.
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