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A. The FDA Plans to Closely Scrutinize Certain Herbal Products

Narrator: This is Science Today. The Food and Drug Administration will be looking more closely at the effects of certain herbal products, including those containing aristolochic acid or aristolochia. These are marketed to combat weight loss and alleviate gastrointestinal problems, but have been linked to kidney failure and cancer. Unlike drugs, herbal supplements do not need FDA approval before becoming available to consumers.

Gold: Herbal and other dietary supplements have a separate law, which govern them. That law doesn't allow FDA to require testing in advance the way it does of pharmaceutical drugs.

Narrator: Lois Swirsky Gold directs the Carcinogenic Potency Project at the University of California, Berkeley. While the FDA did ban the importation of products containing aristolochic acid, these products were still easily available on the Internet. In a medical journal, Gold publicly called on the FDA to come up with better regulations.

Gold: It raises the question of how well are people protected about taking herbal supplements.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.