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Our Response to the Chicago Tribune

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Your June 30 article, “Dietary supplements: Manufacturing troubles widespread, FDA inspections show” by Thrine Tsouderos, is a perfect example of the bias and rampant sensationalism we have come to expect from major media when reporting on dietary supplements.
As consumers, we want our nutritional supplements to be as safe as possible. It is in the supplement industry’s best interests to make sure that supplements are safe, and the government’s numbers prove that—despite media hyperbole to the contrary—dietary supplements have a consistent track record for safety.
According to the CDC, more than half the US population takes a nutritional supplement. And even though billions of supplements are consumed each year, there are remarkably few adverse events reported, only about 1,000 per year, most of them minor. This is especially striking when compared with the more than 500,000 adverse events reported each year for prescription drugs. That’s over twelve hundred adverse event reports per day for prescription drugs!
We disagree with the FDA’s Dan Fabricant that the problems with Total Body Formula are “a classic case.” As a matter of fact, such serious supplement adverse events are so rare that media and supplement critics repeatedly roll out Total Body Formula’s problems from back in 2008 (as Dateline NBC did in its March 18, 2012, broadcast) to beat the anti-supplement drum.
We also fail to see how your reporter’s inclusion in her article of deaths linked to cough syrup made by a Panamanian pharmaceutical company in 2006 add anything of substance to your article other than fear-mongering.
Gretchen DuBeau
Executive and Legal Director
Alliance for Natural Health USA

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