A 24-year-old California man recently settled his lawsuit against a dietary supplement distributor for $4,225,000 after he suffered acute liver failure and kidney failure in 2009 after using a dietary supplement. The dietary supplement had been recalled after the FDA expressed its concern that the supplement contained unlabeled synthetic steroids. The previously healthy young man had to undergo an emergency liver transplant and emergency kidney transplant in order to save his life. Medical testing indicated drug toxicity but the cause was not identified at the time.
One of the dietary supplements that the young man had purchased and had taken was Diabolic Labs Epio-Plex. His lawyer had the Epio-Plex tested by a laboratory that reportedly found that it contained at least two designer steroids that are now banned in the United States.
Epio-Plex was one of 65 dietary supplements that Bodybuilding.com, LLC sold on its website and voluntarily recalled on November 3, 2009 because the FDA believed that it (and the other 64 dietary supplements) contained ingredients that are steroids, such as “Superdrol,” “Madol,” “Tren,” “Androstenedione,” and/or “Turinabol.” The company noted in its press release regarding the recall that, “Acute liver injury is known to be a possible harmful effect of using steroid-containing products. In addition, steroids may cause other serious long-term adverse health consequences in men, women, and children. These include shrinkage of the testes and male infertility, masculinization of women, breast enlargement in males, short stature in children, a higher predilection to misuse other drugs and alcohol, adverse effects on blood lipid levels, and increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and death.”
What Is A Dietary Supplement?
“Dietary supplement” is defined in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (“DSHEA”) of 1994. A dietary supplement is a product taken by mouth that contains a “dietary ingredient” intended to supplement the diet. The “dietary ingredients” in these products may include: vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, and substances such as enzymes, organ tissues, glandulars, and metabolites. Dietary supplements can also be extracts or concentrates, and may be found in many forms such as tablets, capsules, softgels, gelcaps, liquids, or powders. They can also be in other forms, such as a bar, but if they are, information on their label must not represent the product as a conventional food or a sole item of a meal or diet. The DSHEA places dietary supplements in a special category under the general umbrella of “foods,” not drugs, and requires that every supplement be labeled a dietary supplement.
The FDA warns that dietary supplements are not FDA-approved, in general, and do not need FDA approval prior to marketing; it is the company’s responsibility to make sure its products are safe and that any claims are true. Nonetheless, the FDA has found nearly 300 fraudulent products—promoted mainly for weight loss, sexual enhancement, and bodybuilding—that contain hidden or deceptively labeled ingredients and have resulted in recalls of more than 40 products marketed for weight loss, more than 70 products marketed for sexual enhancement, and more than 80 products marketed for bodybuilding.
If you or loved one may have been injured as a result of using a dietary supplement in the United States, you should promptly contact a lawyer who may investigate your dietary supplement claim and represent you in your claim, if appropriate.
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