In recent years, the United States Food and Drug Administration (hereafter “FDA”), have mobilized their efforts to address what has become a serious public health problem. The dietary supplement industry is a multi billion dollar a year consumer driven industry growing with each passing year. In addition to consistent expansion of supplement brands, competition for higher profit margins, and minimal capacity to regulate all genres of dietary supplements, the FDA is confronted with a monumental task. The cancer of greed has slowly metastasized to terminal levels. Manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements now actively lace their formulas with prescription drugs or analogs fully aware of the dangers posed to consumers. People who run these operations knowingly adulterating their supplements are true criminals motivated by greed and a lack of conscience for the risks to the consumer.
These tainted products have led to tragic medical consequences including liver and kidney damage, stroke, pulmonary failure and death. Tainted products are problematic, but people and organizations that intentionally taint their supplements and products are far worse than the neighborhood drug dealer. The local drug dealer thriving in every town in America illegally sells and distributes his/her drugs to a consumer base privy to what they are purchasing and the potential dangers from ingesting those chemicals. Dietary supplement manufacturers and distributors aware of selling tainted supplements are far worse because their consumers are ignorant to the dangerous chemicals being added.
The three categories of supplements consistently adulterated with potential toxic substances are weight loss, sexual enhancement, and body building products. The FDA, national trade associations representing the dietary supplement industry and various regulatory commissions are all struggling to halt these deceptive practices. At the FDA website, they clearly point out to site visitors their enforcement procedures and consumer advisories for tainted products merely cover a small fraction of the tainted over-the-counter products on the market. The magnitude of the problem is gigantic.
Clearly, manufacturers who knowingly lace their formulas and distributors who are aware they are selling tainted supplements to consumers are engaged in criminal activities and deemed as participating in deviant behaviors. A forensic psychologist is trained to identify aspects of the human condition related to criminal behavior, deviance, and the motivation of criminal behavior. Following is a forensic psychologist’s rationale for people and organizations engaged in such corrupt actions.
Research of the dietary supplement industry related to tainted products is a daunting task. The three categories of supplements the FDA has identified first needs to be investigated. Weight loss, sexual enhancement, and body building supplements have the highest rate of tainted substances. These three categories share a common theme. All three categories are involving populations of individuals seeking performance enhancement or image enhancement. Two of these three categories, are formulas designed to help people with perceived negative aspects they are trying to improve. Consumers purchasing weight loss supplements are hoping to shed pounds. The vast majority of consumers purchasing sexual enhancement products are men looking to enhancement their genital organ. Body building supplements are for bodybuilders, weightlifters, athletes, and people looking to improve their physiques. Although the three populations are different, they all share one common theme. This theme is based on the theory of “exhausting all options.”
All three populations are investigating and purchasing supplements in hopes of achieving goals they perceive as necessary to attain their goals. The bodybuilder seeks greater definition of muscle mass, the over weight person hopes to shed pounds, and men purchase sexual enhancement products to help them obtain and sustain an erection. These segments of the population are willing to consume supplements if the results of consumption benefit their goals for improvement. There is a high probability that all three of these groups resort to supplements because other methods have either not been beneficial or does not meet their expectations. Hence, they practice the concept of “exhausting all options” and research these products. Unfortunately, the dietary supplement industry relies on the consumer’s dire need to find an effective product. An unknown percentage of these companies develop formulas which are illegal and potentially dangerous for the monetary gains.
The FDA fully admits they do not have the capacity to investigate every supplement company due to the industries sheer size. Minimal regulations, low rates of enforcement, and a consumer base willing to spend billions of dollars each year have created an environment perfect for the criminal mind to engage in. At present, the consequences for intentionally tainting dietary supplements and offering to consumers for retail tainted supplements grows exponentially each year. The opportunity for succeeding with a criminal mind is “ripe for the picking.” The manufacturing and distribution of dietary supplements is both legal and accepted by society. Legal, accepted, and financially booming sets the stage for criminal intent. The cocktail for the criminal mind is clearly obvious. An industry generating billions of dollars a year, minimal consequences for deceptive practices and a high demand by consumers combine for the criminal mind to flourish. The environment for opportunity and greed becomes a viable option.