Justice Department Targets Supplement Manufacturers with Criminal Charges

person holding brown and white bottle

Dietary supplements are difficult, no basically impossible, for the FDA to regulate because they aren’t classified as drugs. You could quite literally fill some gel caps with flour, drop them on the market as creatine caps and make money hand over fist if you get some athletes on Instagram pushing your crap.

The American nutritional supplement industry, has long functioned in a regulatory Wild West. That may finally be changing, as best-selling supplement manufacturer USPlabs are currently in a showdown with the law. USPlabs will face criminal charges for unlawfully selling nutritional supplements. S.K. Laboratories, which manufactures the supplements, is also facing charges.

Six executives in total have been indicted on multiple charges. The Department of Justice claims that USPlabs used a synthetic stimulant in its best-selling supplements, Jack3d and OxyElite Pro. The company claims that the stimulant used was made from plant extracts. OxyElite Pro, a weight loss supplement, has also been linked to liver damage.

The indictments are part of a larger effort by the federal government to bring some regulation to the industry. Reuters reports that five civil cases have been filed against other supplement makers. It isn’t great news for retailers like GNC and The Vitamin Shoppe; both retailers have seen stocks significantly affected. But it is great news for consumers who have long been duped by dubious advertising, and harmed by tainted or incomplete products.

This is a great opportunity to remind you to always do due diligence before starting any supplement. Oddly enough, one of the best sources for supplement information is the similarly named non-profit U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP). USP is a scientific nonprofit organization that sets standards for the identity, strength, quality, and purity of medicines, food ingredients, and dietary supplements manufactured, distributed and consumed worldwide. USP’s drug standards are enforceable in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration, and these standards are used in more than 140 countries.

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