Gives Names of Brands that Fail
Plains NY, 20 May 2003, 21 April 2003, and 18 March 2003
brands that fail testing
due to popular demand, ConsumerLab.com has begun reporting the names
of brands that fail their tests as well as those that pass, starting
on May 20 with its review of saw palmetto supplement products. This
information is available to subscribers rather than the general
public. (The cost of a year's subscription will soon rise to $24.)
ingredients and fillers
with its March 18 review of vitamin C, ConsumerLab now includes
a list of all labeled ingredients and fillers for each product.
This will be useful for consumers with specific dietary concerns
or restrictions, such as caloric intake, allergies, vegetarian or
important recalls and warnings have recently been posted on the
ConsumerLab website. One involves a human-growth hormone (HGH) supplement
making false claims; ConsumerLab is confident there are many others
out there like it. The second is a massive recall of products from
an Australian firm.
posted in April include a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) action
on an herbal "Snore Formula" regarding scientific substantiation
of its claims, and warnings that a sexual enhancement product illegally
contained the prescription drug ingredient used in Viagra.
March, the FTC reported that Rexall Sundown will pay up to $12 million
to redress consumers who purchased "Cellasene"; the FTC claimed
the company made unsubstantiated claims about the ability of Cellasene
to eliminate or substantially reduce cellulite, and false claims
of clinical evidence establishing Cellasene's efficacy.
February, US Marshals seized dietary supplement products from Global
Source Management and Consulting, Inc. (Sunrise FL) after the FDA
determined that these products claimed to treat a variety of medical
conditionsincluding claims to prevent various cancers and
to treat arthritis. Such unapproved drug claims violate the Federal
Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
consumers to read labels carefully when selecting herbal supplements
May 20, ConsumerLab.com reported that only two-thirds of the saw
palmetto supplements it recently evaluated contained ingredients
similar to those known to work in clinical studies. Saw palmetto
is a popular herb due to its ability to reduce the frequency and
urgency of urination in men with prostate enlargement. More than
$33 million worth of saw palmetto supplements were sold in the past
12 months in the US, according to market research firms SPINS and
identified two products with doses that were about half the amount
known to work. Although both claimed to contain other botanical
ingredients with potential prostate activity, it is not known if
these would compensate for the low levels of saw palmetto. Two other
products indicated on their labels that they were made from saw
palmetto extracts having lower amounts of fatty acids and sterols
than the standard 85%-95%; in fact, one claimed only "20%-25%."
A fifth product was found to contain unusually high levels of sterols
and specific fatty acids, suggesting the addition of undeclared
oil in the product.
need to understand that supplements are often designed by marketers,
not clinicians," said Tod Cooperman, MD, president of ConsumerLab.com.
ConsumerLab.com specifically recommends that a saw palmetto product
claim a daily dose of either 320 mg of berry extract or one to two
grams of berry powder. Extracts should be standardized to at least
85% fatty acids and 0.2% sterols, while berry powders should be
standardized to a minimum of 8.5 % fatty acids and 0.02% sterols."
includes results for 22 saw palmetto products, including the fourteen
reviewed (of which nine met ConsumerLab.com's quality standards)
and eight others that recently passed the same evaluation through
ConsumerLab's Voluntary Certification Program. The review also provides
information about other ingredients used to treat prostate enlargement:
pygeum bark, nettle root, pumpkin seed, and beta-sitosterol.
quality ingredient appears widespread among ginkgo supplements
contrast to its findings of three years ago, ConsumerLab.com reported
on April 21 that only 22% of recently tested Ginkgo biloba supplements
met ConsumerLab's quality standards. In late 1999, 75% of the products
it tested met these standards. Ginkgo, which is used to improve
cognitive functioning, remains a top-selling herb in the US, although
sales fell by 29% to $47 million in the past year according to market
research firms SPINS and ACNielsen.
supplements are generally made from a highly concentrated leaf extract.
Products that have been effective in clinical trials contain defined
amounts of special compounds from the leaf. Many products on the
market claim to be standardized only to total amounts of these compounds
and not to the individual compounds. ConsumerLab.com's testing found
most ginkgo products to contain less than one-fifth of the expected
amount of bilobalidea compound that may play a particularly
important role in the effectiveness of ginkgo.
consumers are often told to look for 'standardized' ginkgo, the
standards used by many manufacturers do not measure up to those
used in clinical studies," said Tod Cooperman, MD, president of
ConsumerLab.com. "It's like selling a car with only one cylinder:
It's still a car, but it is not likely to perform well. This may
also help explain why sales of ginkgo have been falling." ConsumerLab.com's
findings also pose a challenge to the FDA's proposed rules for the
labeling of supplements since they do not clearly define standards
for herbal ingredients.
more recently introduced supplement for improving cognitive functioning
(particularly in Alzheimer's patients) called huperzine A was also
tested in the recent review. All of the huperzine products contained
the labeled amount of the ingredient, but one was found to be high
results for all products reviewed (9 Ginkgo biloba and 4 huperzine
A supplements) are now available at www.consumerlab.com/results/ginkgobiloba.asp.
Also listed are results for one additional ginkgo product that passed
the same analysis in ConsumerLab's Voluntary Certification Program.
of vitamin C products has improved
contrast to its prior research, ConsumerLab.com found that all 15
products evaluated in its March 18 product review of vitamin C supplements
passed its testing. Its previous review, conducted in 2000, found
several products with less vitamin C than claimed and one product
that would not dissolve. Americans purchased more than $180 million
worth of vitamin C supplements in the past year according to market
research firms SPINS and ACNielsen.
positive results are quite welcomed, said Tod Cooperman, MD, president
of ConsumerLab.com. He noted, however, "Preliminary results from
other products now being tested suggest that this is not the beginning
of a general upward trend in supplement quality."
15 products, along with 16 other vitamin C products that have recently
undergone the same independent analysis in ConsumerLab's Voluntary
Certification Program are now listed on the ConsumerLab website
along with useful tips on buying and using vitamin C products.
reviews coming soon
to be released are new reviews of calcium (including coral calcium),
cholesterol-lowerers (sterols, policosanol and guggulsterones),
and muscular enhancers (creatine, HMB, and glutamine). ConsumerLab.com's
Guide to Buying Vitamins and Supplements is scheduled for
print publication this year.
is a leading provider of consumer information and independent evaluations
of products that affect health and nutrition. The company is privately
held and based in White Plains NY. It has no ownership from, or
interest in, companies that manufacture, distribute, or sell consumer
products. Subscription to Consumerlab.com is available online.
March18, April 21 and May 20, 2003.