Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

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Search results for "Dietary supplement" ...

  • Supplement Shell Game

    An investigation by USA TODAY reporter Alison Young revealed that a wide array of dietary supplement companies selling products dangerously spiked with hidden pharmaceuticals are headed by executives with criminal backgrounds and run-ins with regulators. They’re convicted felons, thieves, drug addicts, narcotic sellers and more, the reporting revealed. And once they enter the lucrative, $30-billion-a-year supplement business, almost anything goes. Criminals turned supplement entrepreneurs have repeatedly put risky products on the market through a changing series of companies as overwhelmed regulators struggled to keep up. Their pills and powders have included everything from a sleep-aid laced with a powerful anti-psychotic drug, to a widely sold workout supplement spiked with a methamphetamine-like chemical never before tested on people.
  • The Gifted Life of a Governor

    Over months of in-depth investigative reporting, Washington Post reporters discovered Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell--a respected state leader and rising star in his party--held a secret: He and his family had accepted lavish gifts and large loans from the chief executive of a struggling dietary supplement manufacturer, even while working to promote the company. The gifts included luxury items such as designer clothes, a Cape Cod vacation, a Rolex watch and a catered wedding. The money totaled $120,000 in loans over about a year in 2011 and 2012, none repaid before the Washington Post started asking questions. After dozens of articles, the governor apologized for his actions and repaid the money. State and federal authorities opened criminal probes and leaders in both parties have promised to rewrite state ethics laws, long considered some of the most lax in the nation.
  • Supplement Shell Game

    An investigation by USA TODAY reporter Alison Young revealed that a wide array of dietary supplement companies selling products dangerously spiked with hidden pharmaceuticals are headed by executives with criminal backgrounds and run-ins with regulators. They’re convicted felons, thieves, drug addicts, narcotic sellers and more, the reporting revealed. And once they enter the lucrative, $30-billion-a-year supplement business, almost anything goes. Criminals turned supplement entrepreneurs have repeatedly put risky products on the market through a changing series of companies as overwhelmed regulators struggled to keep up. Their pills and powders have included everything from a sleep-aid laced with a powerful anti-psychotic drug, to a widely sold workout supplement spiked with a methamphetamine-like chemical never before tested on people.
  • Hansen Files-Supplements

    Dateline NBC exposed how unsafe practices in the booming dietary supplements industry – and lax government regulation – are allowing poisonous products to reach store shelves. Digging deep into government records, product recalls, criminal counterfeiting cases, plus state and federal civil court files, Dateline documented actual examples of dangerous products and falsified test results. In one case, workers at U.S. supplement maker used five-gallon buckets and women’s pantyhose in an attempt to filter suspicious black flecks out of a liquid vitamin supplement bound for retail stores – including GNC. Dateline’s investigation didn’t stop at reviewing records. In a hidden camera sting, Dateline exposed so-called “dry-labbing” – the practice of certifying products without really testing them. Dateline set up its own supplement company, created sample products, deliberately spiked them with poisons, and then hired labs to test them. One lab specializing in supplements missed every poison – and told correspondent Chris Hansen the dangerous products were safe to sell. In spite of these documented threats to public health, federal officials acknowledged that labs that test dietary supplements are neither licensed nor inspected.
  • CR Investigates: Dangerous Supplements Still at Large

    "This article documented the continuing availability in the U.S. of nutritional supplements that are drugs in all but name, and are capable of causing serious side effects including death. We showed how easy it was to obtain the 12 most dangerous of these products by making purchases ourselves in retail stores and on the Internet. We then examined how loopholes and lax enforcement of supplement regulatory laws in the U.S. have allowed purveyors of these hazardous products to flourish. We also examined and debunked the widely held belief that supplements are safe because they're 'natural.'"
  • Are these diet pills deadly?

    Glamour reports on a decade-long lack of action by the FDA against the drug ephedra. The writers charge the drug industry with stalling the government on both state and federal levels. The story also exposes the ways in which some manufacturers purportedly proved their products were safe and effective, documenting how little research had ever been done on ephedra-based supplements and debunking the single study most often cited by the industry. The story also talks about how marketers continued to use flimsy evidence to make claims about their products efficacy....claims that were unanimously voted to be false and scientifically impossible by the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Sports-supplement dangers

    Consumer Reports examines three dietary supplements marketed to enhance athletic performance, creatine, ephedra, and androstenedione. Looking at scientific studies available on the supplements Consumer Reports found that the supplements are often ineffective and potentially dangerous. Androstenedione, used by former St. Louis Cardinal Mark McGwire, was shown to cause hormonal imbalance in some cases, and ephedra is a herbal stimulant with a combination of ingredients that acts like an amphetamine. Metcalf and Sandroff also show that many of these nutritional supplements are marketed towards youths.
  • The Outlaw Doctor

    New Yorker magazine profiles Nicholas Gonzalez, a doctor who prescribes nutritional diets rather than chemotherapy, to fight cancer. Gonzalez did not begin his practice until he had investigated the research of William Donald Kelly, who started the nontoxic approach in the 1960's. While Gonzalez was skeptical of Kelly's therapy in the beginning, he began to see some truth in Kelly's findings and opened up his own office in 1987. 'I had no choice other than to face the fact that he had hundreds of patients with obviously terminal disease who were still alive five, ten and fifteen years later.' Now fifteen years later, critics remain questionable about Gonzalez's philosophy, stating he "lies to cancer patients, steals their money, and kills them." But as he puts out more information and encourages doctors to research his work, some doctors are agreeing that Gonzalez may be on the right tract.
  • Alternative Medicine, safe or not, lures more people

    Alternative medicine is growing exponentially yet is essentially unwatched by the Federal Gov.t, which ruled in '94 to classify these products as "food" -- not drugs. In '97, more than $21 billion was spent -- more than the out-of-pocket expenditures for all hospitalizations in the U.S. The FDA will soon (mid-June) hold hearings concerning the regulation of alt. medicine, especially the "free-wheeling" dietary supplement sector. Traditional doctors argue that "natural does not mean safe." The Internet is significantly spurring growth in the alt. med. industry.
  • GNC Resisted Offering a Hot Pill, Losing Sales and Irking Franchises

    The Wall Street Journal reports GNC is selling Andro, a hormone-boosting pill, after deciding not to sell it a year ago. Officials of GNC say they have new information on the pill that changed their minds. The Wall Street Journal cites the information GNC officials found, showing the sources to "seem a bit short of high science."