This article in Men's Health focuses on supplements for men, but it points to easy to exploit gaps in the regulatory safety net. I'm a self-confessed junk food freak, so I take the sting out of putting gas in the car by going in to the concession for a soft drink or a candy bar. There I see the array of generic junk being sold along with lottery tickets, tobacco products and multi-packs of beer that underscore some serious information in this piece.
American men have a mania for pills and potions that can add muscle or stiffen their sex lives. Shady drug labs supply the demand—by dosing "natural" nostrums with illegal meds and hidden health threats
By law, dietary supplements must contain at least one vitamin, mineral, amino acid, enzyme, or other substance used by the body. But a growing number of supplements have also been spiked with prescription, banned, or completely untested drugs that you won't find listed on the label. Makers of these suspect potions often claim they're confused by overlapping government jurisdictions over what is and is not legal. More often the adulteration is deliberate and criminal, carried out by sellers who want to grab a share of a $27 billion market by touting a pill that really delivers. A single product can become an instant blockbuster: Before Competitive Edge Labs discontinued M-Drol, the company's gross annual revenue totaled more than $4 million—an impressive haul for an outfit with a payroll of four.
Products most likely to be spiked are those sold for weight loss, bodybuilding, and "sexual enhancement"—categories pitched largely to men. The labels use the word "supplement," but the capsules might contain steroids, erectile-dysfunction drugs such as sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra), or any of a number of weight-loss drugs, some of which have been pulled from the market over safety concerns. It's an old scam, but with the globalization of drug manufacturing and the ease of Internet retailing, your odds of coming across a tainted supplement are higher than ever.************
Dr. Cohen says some manufacturers also play a chemical version of brinkmanship, trying to make a product as close to illegal as possible without crossing the line. "We're talking about a very complicated situation where everyone is trying to replicate the actions of testosterone and put that into a pill that flies under the regulatory radar," he says.
More at the link.