Above and beyond whether the stuff actually helps with weight loss, it is clear that the products contain some compound(s) that cause idiosyncratic cases of liver damage.
According to the law governing dietary supplements, the F.D.A. is empowered to act only in cases when it identifies a harmful or adulterated product that is already on sale.
“Part of the problem as you know is that F.D.A. looks at dietary supplements from a post-market perspective, so that an isolated incident is often difficult to follow,” Dr. Linda Katz, interim chief medical officer of the agency’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said Friday during a conference call with reporters.
And this is what gets my goat about the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) and something that the new FDA chief (and consumers) should really try to cultivate Congressional support to change:
In March, the federal General Accounting Office issued a report (77 page PDF) that criticized federal oversight of dietary supplements. The report, commissioned by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, concluded that the F.D.A. had insufficient knowledge of the dietary supplement industry, insufficient resources dedicated to overseeing the industry, and insufficient ability to identify and recall problem products.