Fake Supplements Are Amazon’s Latest Counterfeit Problem

The company warned customers who may have purchased third-party knockoffs

May want to remove those supplements from your Amazon cart
May want to remove those supplements from your Amazon cart
Gesina Kunkel/Unsplash

Amazon has made itself a go-to destination for just about every product you could possibly desire, but when it comes to dietary supplements, it may be worth taking a trip to the store instead.

The company recently reached out to customers to warn them they may have purchased counterfeit nutritional supplements through a third-party seller on Amazon. “If you still have this product, we recommend that you stop using it immediately and dispose of the item,” read an email obtained by Wired that went out to a customer who may have purchased a knockoff of probiotics made by Align, a Procter & Gamble brand.

Amazon did not specify the number of customers potentially affected by the faux supplements, but a spokesperson for Procter & Gamble confirmed that Amazon had pulled the counterfeit product.

Amazon’s counterfeit problem is nothing new, and the company has come under fire in recent years for selling knockoffs of everything from soccer jerseys to dog collars through third-party retailers. Supplements are a particularly common target for fakes thanks to loose regulations when it comes to testing safety and effectiveness. The FDA, which does not test or regulate the sale of dietary supplements, has found some supplements contain potentially harmful prescription pharmaceuticals, prompting retailers like CVS to launch plans to independently test the supplements they carry.

Amazon has no such plans. As Wired noted, the company has largely been able to avoid any consequences for selling counterfeit goods thanks to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects the retailer from nearly all responsibility for anything third-party sellers post on the site.

In a statement, Amazon emphasized the company’s proactivity in flagging and removing counterfeit products. “We investigate every claim of potential counterfeit thoroughly, and often in partnership with brands, and in the rare instance where a bad actor gets through, we take swift action, including removing the item for sale, permanently banning bad actors, pursuing legal action, and working with law enforcement when appropriate.”

That’s all well and good, but it may still be a better bet to get your supplements from CVS.

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