Sen. Claire McCaskill, a ranking member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, is requesting a comprehensive list of enforcement actions taken since 2005 by the Department of Justice involving dietary supplements in an effort to crack down on the presence of “fraudulent or unsafe dietary supplements” sold in the U.S. and endangering public health.
“It’s clear that parts of this industry are operating as if this was the Wild West, where basic standards of honesty and oversight are nonexistent – and they seem to be getting away with it, Sen. McCaskill said in a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “It’s important to get a sense of what actions the Department of Justice has taken and whether those actions have resulted in meaningful prosecutions.”
The request comes several months after Sen. McCaskill opened an inquiry into brain health supplements specifically targeting senior citizens claiming to improve memory and treat conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. She also called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to suspend the sale of vinpocetine and picamilion – two substances that claim to aid in brain health. But when the FDA didn’t act quickly enough, Sen. McCaskill jumped in and wrote 10 retailers asking them to voluntarily remove their picamilion supplements. Last fall, the FDA moved to ban the substance.
Sen. McCaskill’s efforts are just another effort to protect consumers from dietary supplements that contain illegal, undeclared and potentially dangerous ingredients. Last month, as part of National Consumer Protection Week, U.S. Attorney General Lynch addressed the public, urging them to use caution when buying dietary supplements.