The revelation comes from the latest round of the company’s product policing program, which has revealed extremely disappointing results involving potency, labeling, contamination, adulteration and heavy metal level issues in more than 150 products tested since 2017. In the berberine case, testing flagged worrying quality failings in a selection of brands purchased last month from both retail giants.
We purchased two bottles of each product from 33 brands, including Now, sold on both Amazon and Walmart.com, said Dan Richard, vice president of global sales and marketing at Now Health Group. Even before testing it was clear that many brands were fraudulently mislabeling potency on the front label panel and that many others had suspiciously high claims.
Now says it has chosen to focus on lesser-known brands that are sold almost exclusively on these platforms because health food store or merchant brands have historically been less suspect.
Capitalizing on the Berberine Hype
Berberina, a yellow alkaloid compound found in plants such as goldenseal, barberry and Oregon grape, linked to blood sugar, cholesterol, cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory benefits Got famous on social media.
According to market research firm SPINS, there was a surge in chatting in January that reached true virality on TikTok (as #naturesOzempic) in May and mainstream media in June. At the time, NOW told NutraIngredients-USA that its berberine sales had increased 623% before it ran out of stock.
With any rapid increase in popularity, Nau said, there is an opportunity for deceptive sellers to make money by offering substandard or adulterated products. This has been proven to be true with berberine.
Berberine supplements are usually made in hydrochloride (HCl) form, which is obtained by extractionberberis aristataBark, and typically use 85-90% potency source Berberine HCl dihydrate.
This means that if brands claim 500 mg of berberine on a label, and it is in HCl form, the supplier must input 550-575 mg of berberine HCl dihydrate to meet the label claim, now explained. It has been said that the full supplement facts disclosure will read something like this: Berberine HCl 500 mg (from 550 mg Berberine HCl dihydrate) instead of just Berberine or Berberine HCl.
To produce its own in-house reports on the quality and presence of berberine in each tested product, high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with ultraviolet light detection (HPLC-UV) is now used. It also sent an unopened bottle of each brand to independent botanical testing laboratory Alchemist Labs for HPLC testing.
The natural products manufacturer reported that results from this round of testing showed serious levels of low potency, with every brand tested except Now being less than 100% potency. Seven brands had greater than 80% labeled potency, and three brands had 90–97% potency.
Additionally, 18 brands had labeled potency less than 40%, and seven policing programs reported 1% or less berberine potency in first-time trials. A quick search shows that all 33 brands have a four-star rating and are currently available on Amazon.
Now said it has previously tested some similar brands in other categories (astaxanthin, bromelain, curcumin, magnesium glycinate, quercetin, COQ10, glutathione, acetyl-L-carnitine, ALA, phosphatidyl serine, and SAMe) and found similar problems. Has been detected. It highlighted that more than 80% of the products tested failed potency testing and that one of the brands “failed eight different rounds of product testing and the highest number of potency cases among all brands tested.” It has the worst record in India. Full details of the test results have been published on the website now.
“This unusual part of our industry that exists mostly on the Amazon platform undermines efforts to fight against the false narrative that our industry is unregulated, and that our products are untested and unsafe,” said Alan Sudberg, CEO of Alchemist Labs. ” “It is disappointing that the FDA and Amazon are not effectively monitoring what is being sold! Alchemist is honored to work with NOW to send the message that we see you, we care about you.” The products are being tested, and the truth will come out.”
Despite sharing each round of results with Amazon and Walmart, Now says it never received any feedback or observed any noticeable changes, with the same failed brands being widely sold on Amazon, Exclusive. formally, and often in the form of sponsored or advertised brands.
“We hope that when Now shows independent testing of zero-potential products, at least the product will be removed from sale,” Richard said. It would be better to re-test the product and if it is found to be void again, the product should be recalled. No such action has been taken.
Daniel Fabricant, PhD, CEO and president of the Natural Products Association, reiterated that this is not the first time that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been made aware of these cases.
“We have sent them testing data on such NOW foods for years,” he said. Their response to date has been to sit on the sidelines, which is unfortunate for everyone and indicates that they are not the least bit curious about the industry.
In response to NOW’s request for comment on the berberine trial findings, the FDA said that product integrity is one of the agency’s strategic priorities for dietary supplements, and “reports of more or less potent products indicate a product integrity problem”.
An FDA spokesperson said, “We appreciate stakeholders’ efforts to raise awareness of such problems and FDA incorporates these types of reports into its action planning process.” “If the FDA determines that a dietary supplement is adulterated or misbranded, we take appropriate action based on available resources, such as a recall, issuing a warning letter, or taking enforcement action.”
Amazon and Walmart.com have not yet responded to requests for comment.
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