updated 12/15/2010 2:42:19 PM ET 2010-12-15T19:42:19

The Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on manufacturers of certain weight loss, body building and sexual enhancement supplements that contain potentially dangerous ingredients.

  1. Don't miss these Health stories
    1. Splash News
      More women opting for preventive mastectomy - but should they be?

      Rates of women who are opting for preventive mastectomies, such as Angeline Jolie, have increased by an estimated 50 percent in recent years, experts say. But many doctors are puzzled because the operation doesn't carry a 100 percent guarantee, it's major surgery -- and women have other options, from a once-a-day pill to careful monitoring.

    2. Larry Page's damaged vocal cords: Treatment comes with trade-offs
    3. Report questioning salt guidelines riles heart experts
    4. CDC: 2012 was deadliest year for West Nile in US
    5. What stresses moms most? Themselves, survey says

The FDA said Wednesday that some manufacturers are deceptively labeling products to hide that they contain ingredients known to cause adverse health effects. Other supplements contain ingredients that should only be available by prescription.

"These tainted products can cause serious adverse effects, including strokes, organ failure, and death," said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. "The manufacturers selling these tainted products are operating outside the law."

Dietary supplements can slip through the regulatory cracks because, unlike drugs, they do not have to be approved by the FDA before they are marketed. Manufacturers are responsible for making sure their products are safe.

The FDA has pressured companies to recall nearly 200 inappropriately-formulated products since 2007, including 80 that were marketed as body building supplements, according to the agency. The recalled products were linked to reports of stroke, kidney failure, liver injury and death.

In a letter to the supplement industry, the agency said manufacturers who distribute tainted products could face criminal prosecution.

Executives from the supplement industry said they support the FDA crackdown and would share the letter with companies.

The FDA said the agency is targeting weight loss products containing sibutramine, which has been withdrawn from the market for causing increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The agency said it has discovered "dozens of products" that contain the ingredient, including those marketed under the brand names Slimming Beauty, Solo Slim and Slim-30.

Body building products under scrutiny include those containing anabolic steroids or steroid analogs. The agency cited Tren Xtreme, ArimaDex, and Clomed as supplements that have been labeled to contain those products.

The agency also warned consumers to be wary of sexual enhancement products that include similar ingredients to the approved drugs Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra. Those ingredients should only be available by prescription. The FDA said products marketed under the names Vigor-25, Duro Extend Capsules for Men, Magic Power Coffee have been determined to be in violation of federal law.

"Consumers should avoid products marketed as supplements that claim to have effects similar to prescription drugs," said Michael Levy, director of labeling compliance for the agency. "Consumers should also be wary of products with labeling only in a foreign language or that are marketed through mass e-mails."

Story: EPA says saccharin not a threat after all
Story: Folic acid tied to better grades in Swedish teens
Story: Is diet drug Contrave a game changer against obesity?

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments