The U.S. is home to a very lucrative industry of dietary supplements, promising various benefits to the user, including rapid weight loss, increased muscle mass, “male enhancement,” increased energy, focus and attention, and other benefits. These are largely “vitamin based” compounds that are sold online, at vitamin retailers or on late night cable tv advertising. The supplement industry is not regulated in the same way as pharmaceuticals, and many of these products lack meaningful testing for either effectiveness or short-term/long-term side effects. Often the most benign result of using these supplements is that the consumer sees no beneficial effect at all, and has wasted a fair amount of money in the process. But the other more serious consequence is ill-health effects from use of these supplements. Consumers who get caught up in the marketing hype by the supplement manufacturers forget that even supplements that contain all natural herbs or other ingredients, some of which are wholly untested, can have adverse health effects on many individuals, either alone, or when taken in conjunction with other medications or vitamins.
The most recent examples of this unfortunate outcome were seen this past month when the FDA finally issued a recall for OxyElite Pro and Versa-1, two supplements marketed by USPLabs out of Texas. These two supplements, marketed for both weight loss and muscle benefit, contained an ingredient aegeline, which is now thought by the FDA to be linked with liver damage. Scores of cases of liver damage/hepatitis associated with these products were seen in Hawaii and other states, with at least one fatality, and some users having or awaiting liver transplants. OxyElite Pro and Versa-1 were sold online and at GNC and other retailers. The FDA has warned users to immediately stop consuming those supplements, and UPSLabs has halted all sales.
Sussman & Simcox has received inquiries regarding Versa-1 and its possible serious side-effects. If you have purchased and taken either of these supplements and are concerned that you may have sustained injury, stop taking that product, retain the remaining sample, contact your physician, and call us for a discussion.