Dry labbing continues as if nothing happened
Dry labbing is a practice whereby research or analysis is claimed to be done, but in reality the conclusions are guessed at or copied from other sources without actually doing any analysis.
On March 18th, 2012 the US TV-show 'Dateline NBC' was dedicated to dietary supplement safety, labeling, formulation and testing, the core being a case from two years ago involving consumers who fell seriously ill after taking a product with mislabeled and dangerously high levels of selenium. It was a shocking display of bad behaviour: once again it became clear many supplement sellers see consumers merely as people that need to be drained from their money.
And what happened since this broadcast ? Not much. There was an initial flurry of responses by industry players, but then discussion about the topic went quiet.
The practice of dry labbing in the industry is still continuing, and the practice is becoming more sophisticated, increasing the need for continued vigilance, says Frank Jaksch, CEO of Chromadex.
"Dry labbing has not gone away," he said. "It seems to have actually mushroomed in certain ways, and it's changed in certain ways. We're not seeing the same blatant dry labbing that was exposed in the Dateline piece. The labs that were participating in this have metamorphosed into what I would call selective dry labs, meaning that they are not necessarily as blatant a practice as the lab that was exposed, they are now doing some dry labbing and a little bit of testing and trying to make it difficult for a company to pin it on them."
"It was bit disappointing in the fact that it was just shuffled under the papers, let's move on and there are bigger things. Listen, these companies process thousands of samples a year, and that means that there are thousands of samples receiving fictitious results. That is not a positive. You are ending up with product that could be potentially tainted with something that shouldn't be there."
"There is an expansion of drug tainting in the market right now, and that's a real problem. We're not only seeing sibutramine and Viagra, we're also starting to see ephedra or ephedra-related alkaloids starting to creep back in again."
"I don't want to blow the whole thing out of proportion, that's not the point, but the reason why I think it is something that should be focused on is that, although some people perceive this to be a small problem, it's actually a very easy problem to fix."
Health Canada has suspended the Establishment License of Chemi Pharmaceutical Inc. after finding falsified test results.
An example of how it can and should be handled is this case. The data falsification was identified during an inspection of the Mississauga, Ontario-based testing facility. Health Canada said it is now verifying the nature and use of testing done by Chemi Pharmaceutical Inc. with the company's customers. “Our survey of clients to date indicates that only a portion of the company's work involved testing of final products before they entered the Canadian market,” said the agency.
As a precaution, Health Canada has asked companies to temporarily halt sales of those products tested by Chemi Pharmaceutical until safety can be confirmed.
“To date, Health Canada has not seen any indication that the health of Canadians has been compromised,” it added.
A list of products and ingredients, including dietary supplements, that are affected can be found here. Requests for comment from Chemi Pharmaceutical Inc via telephone went unanswered. Emails to the company's contact email bounced.