The Chicago Personal Injury Law Blog

More Chinese Supplements Laced With Prescription Drugs Recalled

Herbal medicine is quite often ineffective and mislabeled crap. If you need proof, look no further than the wave of "all natural" herbal supplements that have been recalled by the FDA over the last year. Nearly every recall involved a Chinese-made supplement that promised herbal remedies for weight issues, erectile dysfunction, or arthritis. Instead, it turns out that the miracle "natural" cure was laced with a prescription drug.

That's because prescription drugs work. Sure, they may be dangerous, like sibutramine, which is an appetite suppressant that was taken off of the market in 2010 because it substantially increases blood pressure and/or pulse rate and can lead to issues for those with existing heart problems. But it does suppress the appetite (not just by killing you either) and by extension, helps you lose weight.

Late last month, the FDA announced the most recent herbal recall, when sibutramine "accidentally" found itself in Zi Xiu Tang Bee Pollen Capsules and Ultimate Formula Capsules. Bee pollen isn't going to make you skinny. Sibutramine might. The latter might also result in heart attacks and strokes, but at least you won't be hungry.

The problem with these laced herbal supplements, besides the deception, false advertising, and dishonesty, is that many of those who seek these remedies are the same folks who can't take the prescription drugs. The doctor says that a person's heart can't handle the drug, so they grab the herb. They get the drug anyway.

What are the chances of a successful lawsuit against these folks? Legally speaking, the odds are good. If you can prove that the company intentionally mislabeled their goods, fraud claims could be pressed.

The real money, however, is for those who were injured after taking the supplement. Someone takes herbs because their heart can't stand prescription medication. They suffer a heart attack. It's a perfect products liability lawsuit. Manufacturers are strictly liable for damages that result from defective products.

However, beyond the law comes common sense. How many different producers of these pills have we seen in the few years recall "accidentally" laced supplements? There's a reason why each pill is produced by a different small company with a PO Box address. You sue, they shut down. While you may stand on solid ground legally, the odds of successfully collecting a judgment are slim.

Before you take an herbal supplement, investigate the manufacturer. Companies like Vitamin Shoppe, GNC, and others with large presences in the United States have something to lose by selling defective products. Others, with generic websites and a PO Box address, have a lot less motivation to use proper quality controls.

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