The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) has removed most dietary supplements from its list of approved medications due to regulatory, safety and efficacy concerns. The move reportedly makes CHOP the first hospital in the nation to place such a ban. Noting that vitamins and dietary supplements are essentially unregulated and “there is no sound information about adverse side effects, drug interactions, or even standard dosing for the vast majority of them,” Sarah Erush, pharmacy clinical manager and a member of the hospital’s Therapeutic Standards Committee, said that “administering these medications—particularly to children with serious health complications— is unethical when the risks are unknown, and when there are alternative treatments that have been proven in clinical trials to be safe and effective.”  

The hospital will allow a limited list of vitamins and nutrients to be used with regard to certain medical conditions. To be included on the list, products must follow guidelines similar to those for FDA-approved medications and demonstrate proven safety and efficacy data in pediatric patients.  

Under the new policy, parents or guardians will be asked upon admission whether the patient is taking any medication or supplements, and the attending nurse or physician will review the hospital’s policy discouraging the use of supplements and inform parents or guardians of the potential risks associated with the supplement—contamination, mislabeling, interactions with medications, or potential unforeseen adverse effects. To use supplements not on the approved list, parents or guardians will be required to sign a waiver stating that they agree to be responsible for providing the product. See Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia News Release, October 8, 2013.