August 21, 2017 (656)
Greg Doherty
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Dietary Supplement Retailers Under Investigation


On Feb 4 two Democratic Senators, Dick Durbin and Richard Blumenthal, called on the FDA to do a nationwide investigation after four major retailers were accused of selling mislabeled and tainted dietary supplements in their New York stores. On Monday of this week, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent letters to GNC, Target, Wal-Mart and Walgreens on Monday asking them to immediately stop selling store brand herbal supplements in their New York locations. The products, which included Echinacea, ginseng and St. John’s wort, allegedly failed to contain the labeled substance or contained ingredients not listed on the label.

The reaction on the media runs the gamut! Once again the usual detractors of the industry are out in force saying this is what happens when you have an unregulated industry that sells consumable products without pre-market approval. Industry association heads are saying that the DNA testing methodology that was used was deeply flawed in and of itself, and that it was not backed up by alternate, available methods of testing.

But wait a minute. Doesn’t it seem odd that the Attorney General
-only targeted four major drug/health food chains while ignoring the thousands of like stores that exist in this country? And,
-did not first allow the stores the opportunity to respond to the testing results instead of just unleashing the accusations against them?

The finger pointing will continue between the AG, the store chains and the manufacturers that supplied the products to them. But now Congress is all wound up about what strongly appears to be an act of grandstanding on the part of the AG of New York.

The last time this happened, a New York AG by the name of Elliott Spitzer turned the commercial insurance industry on its head and destroyed or negatively altered thousands of jobs in the insurance industry. And we all know what happened to him. But both AGs had their fifteen minutes of fame—and then some. Might this be what the current supplement brouhaha is all about?

About the author

Greg Greg Doherty is a commercial insurance broker with Bolton & Company Insurance Brokers and Employee Benefits Consultants, Pasadena, CA. He is the Executive Vice President and Managing Director of the Dietary Supplement Practice Group, which specializes in the nutritional product and dietary supplement industries, including but not limited to contract manufacturers, raw materials suppliers, distributors/retailers. Mr. Doherty has four decades of experience as a broker, focusing solely on the dietary supplement industry for the last 14 years. He can be reached at; Phone: 626-535-1409; Website:

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