Dietary Supplements: A Survey of the Opinion of First-Year Professional Pharmacy Students

Bisrat Hailemeskel* and Fekadu Fullas

Dietary Supplements: A Survey of the Opinion of First-Year Professional Pharmacy Students

The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act was enacted by US Congress with
the purpose of regulating dietary supplements in the United States.

Formulations of botanicals, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids constitute DS.
They do not require pre-market approval by the Food and Drug Administration.

The semantics adds to the confusion of interpreting claims. As of 2014, there were more
than 85,000 diverse DS products in the market. The quality and safety of DS continue
to be of much concern.

A positive role cab be played by pharmacists in selecting appropriate DS not only for their
own use, but also for public consumers who seek their advice. Pharmacists need to be at
the forefront in advising consumers of DS about quality, claims, labeling, safety, efficacy,
DS-drug interactions, and other aspects.

Yet, the knowledge base of pharmacists and pharmacists-in-training about DS appears
to be below expectation. According to a study by Shah et al,3 pharmacy students felt their
knowledge about herbal supplements was inadequate, with 95% of the survey participants
reporting a need to learn more about herbal supplements.

However, the actual knowledge level of pharmacists was even lower than 50%.
Data gathered from 41 academic pharmacists in US pharmacy schools indicated
a use rate of 54% in the past, with 16 reporting taking DS at the time of the study.

In a survey of 179 pharmacy students by Axon et al, it was reported 52% used at least
one dietary supplement in their lifetime. In a similar manner, another study which
surveyed 70 pharmacists showed a majority reported taking dietary supplements.

Diabetes Res Open J. 2022; 8(1): 18-22. doi: 10.17140/DROJ-8-155