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July 27, 2011

Dietary Supplements—Regulatory Issues and Implications for Public Health

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Department of Communication Studies, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina.

JAMA. 2011;306(4):428-429. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.982

In October 1994, President Clinton signed into law the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), and 17 years later, health experts, policy makers, and industry lobbyists continue to spar over the legislation. Classifying dietary supplements as a subcategory of food, DSHEA allowed supplement manufacturers to market products without submitting proof of safety or efficacy to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).1 Currently, for a tainted or otherwise hazardous product to be removed from the supplement marketplace, an agency such as the FDA or the Drug Enforcement Administration must offer evidence that the product is unsafe, contains a controlled substance, or is absent ingredients listed on the product label after the product has appeared in retail outlets.2 For US health professionals, the fact that more than 150 million US residents use dietary supplements should be a point of concern as many users will almost certainly forgo conventional medical treatment in favor of using products that may offer no medicinal value and taking health advice from medically untrained sales representatives.3

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