A recent article in the New York Times documented an alarming spike in liver injuries attributed to dietary supplements. According to data analysis from a national network of liver specialists, the Times article notes that “Dietary supplements account for nearly 20 percent of drug-related liver injuries that turn up in hospitals, up from 7 percent a decade ago…”
A week before the Times article, the same newspaper published an editorial by infectious disease experts who logically argued that since dietary supplements have pharmacological effects, they should be treated and regulated as drugs. The authors pointed out that the FDA estimates that “approximately 50,000 adverse reactions to dietary supplements occur every year” and that many such supplements are not manufactured according to “good manufacturing practice” resulting in dangerous products whose efficacy has not been established.
The New York Times was not the only national newspaper reporting on dangers associated with dietary supplements. Within the past week, a USA Today investigation found “that a wide array of dietary supplement companies caught with drug-spiked products are run by people with criminal backgrounds and regulatory run-ins.”
Unfortunately, none of this is news to lawyers at our law firm, which has extensive experience with food, drug and consumer safety cases. Fred Pritzker, the firm’s President, said that “the number of cases involving liver and kidney damage caused by dietary supplements and over-the-counter, non-prescription drugs has sky-rocketed.” The reasons for the spike include:
- A shocking lack of any statutory or regulatory requirement forcing supplement producers to prove their products are safe, unadulterated and made in conformance with approved manufacturing and testing standards
- A shortage of FDA money and manpower necessary to oversee this multi-billion industry
- The ease with which fraudsters and charlatans are able to begin making and selling illicit supplements
- The difficulty in identifying and proving which supplements actually caused the liver or kidney damage (since many supplement users use more than one brand at a time)
According to Pritzker, “people harmed by dietary supplements often face legal challenges in obtaining compensation for the life-changing injuries and losses they experience.” That’s because “many manufacturers of dangerous dietary supplements have no or far too little insurance coverage to compensate victims or they’re simply ‘shell’ companies with nothing but a post office box,” Pritzker said.
In such cases, “it’s usually in the client’s best interest to make claims against all the companies in the product’s chain of distribution,” Pritzker noted. Even if the manufacturer cannot be identified or if it has no assets, in many states it’s possible to sue the store that sold the product or even the wholesaler that distributed it. So-called “chain-of-distribution” claims are right and proper, according to Pritzker, because “it’s only fair to hold accountable companies that profit from the sale of harmful products, especially if they knew or should have known of the dangers and sold them anyway.”
Our lawyers have obtained numerous million and multi-million dollar recoveries on behalf of consumers who suffered severe liver or kidney injuries due to unsafe products and supplements. For a free consultation about your liver or kidney damage caused by dietary supplements, prescription or over-the-counter drugs, contact Fred now for a free consultation of your dietary supplement case.