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Are there prescription drugs in your daily supplements?

Over half of all adults in this country take one or more supplements daily. Despite mixed data on whether they improve our health or do what they claim to do, we still count on them to get the vitamins and minerals we may not get in our diet and to make us feel stronger, healthier and younger. In fact, 10 percent of Americans report that they take four or more dietary supplements every day.

We count on these supplements to be safe. However, many people may not realize that this $35 billion industry isn't as closely regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as we might like.

A study published this month in the JAMA Network Open journal found that many of these dietary supplements contain "[p]otentially harmful active pharmaceuticals." Moreover, many of them are still on the shelves or a few clicks away from our favorite online retailers.

Researchers determined that almost 800 of the supplements they analyzed contained drugs prescribed to help with conditions including depression, anxiety and erectile dysfunction. These drugs were found in supplements that are marketed to people seeking weight loss, sexual performance and muscle building. Overall, 20 percent of the supplements they analyzed that were sold from 2007 through 2016 contained at least one pharmaceutical.

For people suffering from medical conditions like high cholesterol and heart disease, unknowingly consuming these drugs can result in serious harm. The results can even be fatal.

Researchers expressed alarm that even though the FDA was made aware of this contamination, it recalled less than half of the contaminated supplements. Consumers can still purchase them.

One doctor who teaches at Harvard Medical School called this a "dereliction of duty" by the FDA. He said, "While the FDA does not assess the safety of supplements prior to market, the agency is tasked with identifying and removing adulterated and hazardous supplements from the marketplace."

When manufacturers don't fully disclose what's in the products that people consume, the results can be severe. Consumers have legal recourse to hold these manufacturers and potentially others accountable for dangerous and defective products. If you or a loved one has been harmed, an experienced Kentucky product liability attorney can provide guidance regarding your rights and potential courses of action.

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