Since the beginning of 1999, when I assumed the presidency of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS), I have made it my goal to examine the appropriate role for today's pharmaceutical scientist in addressing the critical issues related to dietary supplements, also known these days as nutraceuticals. The pharmaceutical science community is uniquely qualified to play a significant part in ensuring the purity, efficacy, and safety of these products.

Illustration: A. Canamucio
Of all the substances that qualify as dietary supplements under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), herbs or botanicals are of greatest current interest because of their widespread usage and the scientific or technical challenges they present. Herbal dietary supplements are among the most rapidly growing forms of self-medication in the United States. National Public Radio surveyed 1,200 Americans to determine their buying habits with herbal products and found that all Americans, regardless...

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