Adulteration and Counterfeiting of Online Nutraceutical Formulations in the United States: Time for Intervention?

J Diet Suppl. 2018 Sep 3;15(5):789-804. doi: 10.1080/19390211.2017.1360976. Epub 2017 Oct 11.


Global prevalence of nutraceuticals is noticeably high. The American market is flooded with nutraceuticals claiming to be of natural origin and sold with a therapeutic claim by major online retail stores such as Amazon and eBay. The objective of this commentary is to highlight the possible problems of online-sold nutraceuticals in the United States with respect to claim, adulterants, and safety. Furthermore, there is a lack of strict regulatory laws governing the sales, manufacturing, marketing, and label claims of nutraceutical formulations currently sold in the U.S. market. Major online retail stores and Internet pharmacies aid the widespread sale of nutraceuticals. Finally, according to the literature, many of these products were found to be either counterfeit or adulterated with active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and mislabeled as being safe and natural. Therefore, regulatory authorities along with the research community should intervene to draw attention to these products and their possible effects.

Keywords: adulteration; counterfeit; male enhancement; nutraceuticals; online retail stores; weight loss.

MeSH terms

  • Counterfeit Drugs*
  • Dietary Supplements* / adverse effects
  • Drug Contamination*
  • Drug and Narcotic Control
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Pharmaceutical Services, Online*
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration


  • Counterfeit Drugs