The St. Clair Record recently reported that a wrongful death lawsuit settled for $700,000; the defendant, L.A. Weight Loss, will make payment to the two children of a woman who suffered fatal liver failure after using supplements recommended to her by the Weight Loss Centers. According to the wrongful death lawsuit, the victim sought help losing weight in 2004 and was given and used supplements not tested or regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). She then developed symptoms of liver disease and sought treatment a hospital where she was diagnosed with liver failure caused by the supplements. She died before she could receive a liver transplant.
While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has broad authority to regulate drugs, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 mandated that the FDA treat dietary supplements as foods rather than drugs. So, unlike drugs which are subject to safety testing, dietary supplements are not subject to safety and efficacy testing and there are no approval requirements. The FDA is limited to only taking action against dietary supplements after they are proven to be unsafe products. Manufacturers of dietary supplements are permitted to make specific claims of health products, referred to as “structure or function claims” on the labels of dietary supplement products. They may not, however, claim to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease and must include a disclaimer. The way dietary supplements are regulated may be why there are personal injury and wrongful death claims from drugs, such as these weight loss supplements. In order to better protect people from the dangerous products they may ingest, the FDA needs to be able to test the safety of products prior to their release on the market.
Read more about the wrongful death lawsuit settlement here.