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Verifying Drug Contents

I try to be as accurate as possible in the information I give you in class.  But you should always verify for yourselves information about topics that interest you.  Sometimes it can be very difficult to find health-related articles on reliable websites, and it takes a bit of searching to verify or disprove claims found elsewhere.   Answer the three questions below.  The answers can be found on the websites I’ve linked.

 

In class I mentioned the problem of product labeling on vitamins and supplements, and that testing by the US Pharmacopeia is considered to be the gold standard for verification of what is actually contained in manufactured drugs.  An overview of their services is here:

  http://www.usp.org/dietary-supplements/overview  


FYI:  Here is their link for professionals (that’s you!):

http://www.usp.org/usp-verification-services/usp-verified-dietary-supplements/healthcare-professionals

And here is a short presentation for consumers:

http://www.usp.org/sites/default/files/video/uspvConsumerEducation/index.html

 

Question #1:  How does the “USP Verified Mark” differ from supplement labels which simply say “USP”, and what does the mark signify, exactly?

 

Given that the majority of consumers trust supplements from major retailers like GNC, read this one-page article on the WebMD website which summarizes an article from the New York Times, a popular newspaper published in New York.  

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/news/20150203/retailers-fake-supplements

 

Since the information comes from a news source, I felt the need to independently verify the validity of the story:  I found the website of the New York State’s Attorney General and read his press release about the cease and desist letter.  Take a look at the links I found, and decide if you trust the information.

 

http://www.ag.ny.gov/press-release/ag-schneiderman-asks-major-retailers-halt-sales-certain-herbal-supplements-dna-tests


And the original cease and desist letter can be found here:  http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/02/02/health/herbal_supplement_letters.html

 

Question #2:  Assuming the Attorney General’s supplement tests were valid, why does the possibility of fake supplements pose an actual health risk to consumers? 

 

After this news story, I found a variety of political blogs on both sides that accused the Attorney General of doing a faulty investigation and that his motives for accusing the large companies were politically based.   On further investigation, I discovered that a bipartisan group of 14 Attorney Generals from 14 states sent a letter to Congress urging action on the findings.  Here is the letter they sent: 


http://www.ag.ny.gov/pdfs/Final%20Letter%20Re%20Herbal%20Supplements.pdf


Question #3:  Regardless of motive, how might the Attorney General’s DNA tests and claims be independently proven true or false?


See you in class!  -LRB

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