Dietary supplements are widely available in pharmacies and other retail outlets but their availability is not necessarily proof that they are safe. Currently, because of a 1994 regulation, dietary supplements are regulated like foods rather than drugs, which means that they are considered to be safe unless proven otherwise. While most dietary supplements are safe when used as recommended, they typically do not go through the clinical testing process that characterizes pharmaceutical products.
As the market size in the United States approaches $18 billion in sales, and new products surge onto the market (about 1,000/per year), concern is growing at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and elsewhere about occasional problem products. A new report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the National Research Council of the National Academies tackles the problem of a safety framework for dietary sup