Q: What is the difference between a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved joint supplement and a nutraceutical type joint supplement?
A: Intra-articular, intravenous and intramuscular administered joint medications are considered to be drugs and are subject to FDA approval. All of these drugs have been tested by independent research and have been shown to be effective. Oral joint supplements (also known as nutraceuticals), however, are not considered to be drugs and are not regulated by the FDA. Because these products are not regulated by the FDA the amount of active ingredient claimed on the label is not necessarily what is contained in the bottle, and great variation can also exist in the purity and the absorbability (ability of the product to be absorbed in its active form after being given orally) of the product. Only few nutraceuticals have been tested scientifically, which makes it difficult for veterinarians to make recommendations for all but a few oral supplements.
By Florien Jenner DVM, University of Minnesota