A Children's Hospital Says No To Unproven Dietary Supplements

Philadelphia Children's Hospital is the first in the nation to remove supplements such as echinacea and coenzyme Q10 from its list of approved medications. One reason given is that they may cause harmful interactions with other drugs.

What’s the Latest Development?


Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is the first hospital in the nation to remove most dietary supplements from its list of approved medications. These include many of the popular "natural" products, such as echinacea and St. John's wort. Citing concerns about the lack of medical regulation and efficacy as well as possible interactions with proven drugs, CHOP now requires parents and guardians to disclose all supplements a patient might be taking. Staff then strongly urge them to take the patient off the products for the duration of their hospital stay. If they refuse, they are required to sign a waiver taking responsibility for providing the supplements.

What’s the Big Idea?

Other children's hospitals may soon be following CHOP’s example: A 2008 study published in Pediatrics showed that many medical professionals are deeply concerned about dietary supplements. Due to conflicts between the Joint Commission, which labels them as drugs, and the FDA, which treats them as food, "[w]e get caught in the middle," says CHOP official Dr. Paul Offit. He cites a recent case in which a patient with severe pancreatitis was found to be taking over 90 different supplements.

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