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“Inaccurate Amounts of Drug Found in Memory Enhancer Supplements for Alzheimer’s Patients, Study Shows”

Inaccurate Amounts of Drug Found in Memory Enhancer Supplements for Alzheimer’s Patients, Study Shows

A recent study conducted by Harvard University has revealed that certain memory enhancer supplements marketed for Alzheimer’s patients contain highly inaccurate amounts of the drug galantamine. Galantamine, a plant extract, is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a prescription medication for mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. However, it is also sold over-the-counter as a dietary supplement, claiming to boost memory and promote lucid dreams.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, compared the contents of generic drugs and dietary supplements labeled as containing galantamine. While the generic drugs were found to be largely accurate, containing at least 97.5% of the listed ingredients, the dietary supplements showed significant variations. In one case, a supplement contained only 2% of the listed ingredients.

Furthermore, the study discovered that three out of ten supplements purchased from vendors on Amazon were contaminated with a type of bacteria known to cause diarrhea. This finding raises concerns about the lack of oversight and regulation for over-the-counter supplements compared to prescription drugs.

Lead author of the study, Pieter Cohen, emphasized the need for caution when purchasing over-the-counter supplements. Despite claims that these products contain the same ingredients as prescription medicines, the study found that “what’s actually in the bottle is completely different.” Cohen highlighted the absence of checks required before supplements are sold, in contrast to the rigorous FDA approval process for prescription drugs.

The study purchased various versions of galantamine from both over-the-counter retailers and a hospital pharmacy. While the generic drugs closely matched the listed amounts of galantamine, ranging from 97.5% to 104.2%, the dietary supplements showed significant discrepancies. The galantamine content in the supplements ranged from 2% to 110% of the listed amounts, with only one supplement falling within a 10% range of accuracy.

Additionally, the study found that three of the tested supplement brands were contaminated with Bacillus cereus sensu stricto, a bacteria that suggests a lack of appropriate quality control during manufacturing. However, the amount of bacteria present was not enough to cause illness.

The study did not disclose the names of the dietary supplement companies or products evaluated, as requested by the medical journal. Some of these products were marketed as memory optimizers, cognitive function supporters, or aids for dream recall and lucid dream induction.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade association for the dietary supplement industry, distanced itself from galantamine products, stating that they are not legitimate dietary supplements and are illegally marketed. The council urged the FDA and retailers to remove these fake supplements from the market to protect consumers.

The lack of control over dietary supplements poses a significant challenge for regulation. The FDA currently lacks information about which dietary supplements are sold, when new products are introduced, and their contents. To address this issue, the FDA proposed legislation requiring companies to list the dietary supplements they sell and sought greater authority to take action against non-compliant products.

The study’s lead author, Pieter Cohen, believes that the problem lies in the regulatory framework. He points out that Congress has stipulated that the FDA has no role in vetting or checking the quality of dietary supplements before they reach the market. The FDA has confirmed that they will review the galantamine study to further their understanding and protect public health.

Peter Lurie, president and executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, described the study as a rare direct comparison between prescription drugs and dietary supplements. Lurie believes that this revelation is a significant blow to the supplement industry, as it exposes the poor quality of their products.

The study serves as a reminder to consumers to exercise caution when purchasing over-the-counter supplements and highlights the need for stricter regulation to ensure product safety and accuracy.


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