The Probiotics Heist : Planet Money Probiotics are increasingly popular — flying off of the shelves, even being stolen from pharmacies. But the jury's still out on their safety and efficacy. So, how did they get on store shelves?
NPR logo

The Probiotics Heist

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/764815498/764843618" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
The Probiotics Heist

The Probiotics Heist

The Probiotics Heist

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/764815498/764843618" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Tashi-Delek/Getty Images
Young woman buying supplements at pharmacy (Source: Getty Images)
Tashi-Delek/Getty Images

Probiotics are "good" bacteria which may be beneficial for your digestive health. While they occur naturally in yogurt and other fermented foods, the market for probiotic supplements is booming. The global probiotics industry is expected to reach $77 billion by 2025.

But though the claim that probiotic supplements are truly beneficial for our gut health is debatable, and there's even question of them doing harm, bottles of pills still sell for up to $100 a pop. Today on The Indicator, we look at the probiotic industry and ask — how does an unproven product achieve such retail success?

Music by Drop Electric. Find us: Twitter / Facebook / Newsletter.

Subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts, PocketCasts and NPR One.