Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS Pharmacy has begun a new program to verify the ingredients of the vitamins and supplements it sells.
The retailer’s “Tested to Be Trusted” program requires all vitamins and supplements sold in stores or online to undergo third-party testing to confirm that the ingredients listed for those products are correct. The process is also meant to screen products for too-high levels of substances such as heavy metals and pesticides.
In a statement, the company said that more than 1,400 products from 152 brands have been tested so far. CVS said 7 percent of products failed the test and were either given updated labels or removed.
The company said it’s the first national retailer to institute a program of this nature and magnitude.
“We are seeing more customers focus on self-care as part of their overall health,” CVS Pharmacy president Kevin Hourican said in a statement. “CVS is committed to providing access to new products and categories to empower people to practice self-care in their daily lives, especially since self-care varies based on an individual’s needs.”
Dietary supplements and other nonmedical health aids are a booming business — some $40 billion a year in sales, according to the US Food and Drug Administration, which is seeking to increase its oversight of the products and rein in some of the more aggressive claims made by manufacturers.
At CVS, the type of products that are being tested include vitamins, probiotics, melatonin, glucosamine, and herbals, such as ginkgo biloba.
The move is in line with other efforts by the pharmacy to increase the health of its offerings.
In 2014, CVS ended the sale of tobacco products in its stores. The pharmacy has also worked to remove possibly harmful substances from its beauty products, and stopped selling sunblock rated lower than SPF 15.
CVS Pharmacy’s senior vice president of merchandising, George Coleman, said the testing is intended to allow consumers to make informed decisions.
“We’re trying to provide customers with choices, but ones they can be confident in,” Coleman said.
The “Tested to Be Trusted” announcement coincides with the launch of a new multimedia self-care campaign called “Treat Yourself Well” and the release of 300 new health and wellness products.Max Reyes can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MaxJReyes.