Herbal Supplement Scam Targeted By NY Attorney General

An ongoing investigation by the New York attorney general has revealed that many herbal supplements produced and sold by retailers such as Walgreens, GNC, Target and Walmart contain powdered rice and other cheap fillers, which may prove dangerous to consumers who suffer allergies.

The revelation was no surprise for U.S. health officials who’ve continually voiced their concerns about safety and quality controls for natural and herbal dietary supplements, which are not regulated in the same manner as prescription pharmaceuticals.

NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman ordered retailers to immediately stop selling store-label “scam” herbal supplements, including ginkgo biloba, Echinacea, garlic, ginseng, St. John’s Wort, and saw palmetto.

“Mislabeling, contamination and false advertising are illegal,” said Eric Schneiderman, adding “They also pose unacceptable risks to New York families — especially those with allergies to hidden ingredients.”

Fraudulent herbal supplements contain cheap fillers

According to authorities involved in the investigation, tests on best-selling natural supplements showed only 21 percent had plant materials that were verified via DNA bar coding. The rest were found to contain houseplants, powdered legumes, wild carrots, rice powder and asparagus. Bottles of ginkgo biloba sold at Walmart, for example, were found to contain houseplants, radish and wheat, though the labels said gluten-free. DNA testing also confirmed that many of the products contained no trace of the botanicals and plants they claimed to include.

Currently, popular supplements like Echinacea and St. John’s Wort make it to the shelves without testing or approval by the FDA, thanks to a loophole in federal law.

The FDA has a history of recalling or issuing public safety communications regarding specific natural supplements that were found to contain dangerous ingredients. But the cease and desist letters sent out by Schneiderman’s office mark the first time that retailers and major pharmacy chains are facing legal consequences for deliberately selling fraudulent herbal products.

A spokesperson for GNC says the chain stands behind the quality of its store-brand products, but intends to cooperate with the NY attorney general. Walgreens announced that it would remove all herbal supplements in question from outlets across the nation, while Walmart stated it would also take appropriate measures. Target has yet to issue a comment in response to the cease and desist letter.

Eligibility for filing a NY herbal supplement lawsuit

Powdered legumes are one of the most worrisome fillers found in these scam supplements. Anyone who is allergic to peanuts or soybeans may suffer a severe allergic reaction, causing anaphylaxis and even death. Individuals who experience adverse side effects or injury may have grounds for a dangerous drug lawsuit in New York, on claims of strict product liability and violation of consumer rights.

If you or a loved one has been affected by any of the aforementioned supplements targeted by NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, we invite you to contact The Sanders Firm for a free case review. Our legal team has won and settled dozens of lawsuits involving dangerous drugs and supplements, and is fully prepared to fight on your behalf. Call 1-800-FAIR-PLAY to discuss your options with a veteran team of personal injury lawyers New York has come to trust. Resources

  1. New York Times, New York Attorney General Targets Supplements at Major Retailers, https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/03/new-york-attorney-general-targets-supplements-at-major-retailers/
  2. NBC, NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Targets Popular Herbal Supplements, https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Eric-Schneiderman-Herbal-Supplements-New-York-Walmart-GNC-Walgreens-290640551.html