McCaskill Statement on Civil, Criminal Actions in Dietary Supplement Industry

Senator: Dietary supplement industry continues to resemble the Wild West

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, who is currently investigating dietary supplements making illegal claims related to memory and mental health, released the following statement today after the Department of Justice, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced enforcement actions against several manufacturers of dietary supplements.

“I’m glad to see enforcement actions taking place against companies that knowingly endanger or mislead American consumers. But, the bottom line is that a lack of consistent oversight makes the dietary supplement industry resemble the Wild West—and until the government makes this a real priority we will continue to see shelves stocked with products that could potentially harm American families.”

Earlier this year, McCaskill—a former State Auditor and courtroom prosecutor—sent letters to 15 retailers inquiring about their policies concerning dietary supplements and what they do to prevent the sale of harmful or fraudulently marketed products in their stores and on their websites and shows. This inquiry was in response to the discovery of products such as Brain Armor, which was recently removed from the Amazon website, that made false claims about their ability to enhance memory and treat dementia.

Last month, McCaskill twice wrote FDA Acting Administrator Stephen Ostroff to request that the FDA take appropriate action to suspend sales of any supplement containing picamilon, a product that FDA has determined is not a dietary ingredient. McCaskill also asked for any documents submitted to the FDA as a part of the New Dietary Ingredient notification process that confirm the ingredient’s safety, and for any cases in which picamilon had caused ‘adverse events’ in consumers. After the FDA failed to respond, McCaskill asked retailers to voluntarily remove products containing picamilon from their shelves—an action that many took.  

As past Chairman of the Senate’s Consumer Protection Subcommittee, McCaskill has also examined misleading and false claims made by makers of weight-loss products. 

Visit mccaskill.senate.gov/consumers to learn more about McCaskill’s fight to strengthen protections for American consumers. 

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