Disastrous Durbin Bill Finally Online—Help Us Get It Stopped!

July 12, 2011
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42-18474328Sen. Durbin’s disingenuous “Dietary Supplement Labeling Act,” which we told you about last week, needs to be defeated. Please contact your senators!

The bill, S.1310, is finally available for viewing by the American public. It exploits the Lazy Cakes incident, where a rogue food company decided to put melatonin into brownies and allowed them to be sold to children. But that case was about the illegal actions of a food manufacturer, whereas this bill is simply another attempt to limit your access to dietary supplements.

The proposed law trusts the FDA and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to decide what levels and combinations of dietary ingredients are considered safe and what aren’t. Given the FDA’s profound bias against supplements, and the skewed, anti-science recommendations of the IOM’s recent vitamin D report, these are hardly trustworthy sources of guidance!

If the bill is passed, neither the FDA nor the IOM will even be subject to any clear standards. They can just make it all up as they go along. Their judgments can be completely arbitrary.

The whole thrust of British and American constitutional history is telling the government it can’t just do anything it likes. There must be written standards and rules encoded in law. The government must follow those standards and rules like anyone else. It can’t just be arbitrary.

Durbin’s bill in other sections just reinvents the wheel, authorizing the FDA to do what it is already authorized to do, but with vague new language that could prove troublesome later. This isn’t needed. The FDA is fully empowered to enforce the many laws and regulations which already exist—provided by DSHEA, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, and Good Manufacturing Practices guidelines.

Sen. Durbin’s bill needs to be defeated. Period. That said, it’s a bill that modifies the procedures set forth by DSHEA, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994. And any bill that modifies the procedures set up by DSHEA should have at least two elements that are not in Durbin’s bill. It must:

  • uphold the right to free speech about the science and health benefits of dietary supplements, and
  • create a new agency under Health and Human Services dedicated to overseeing nutritional supplements.

FDA is supposed to be concerned with food and drugs; supplements are their own category, utterly different from either food or drugs, so they should not fall under the same agency’s administrative power. This is especially important since the FDA is so hostile to supplements and so beholden to drug companies.

Both the Durbin bill and the dangerous FDA’s proposed NDI guidance (see our new article on NDIs in this issue) seek to give the FDA broad new authority to disapprove supplements or supplement ingredients on totally arbitrary grounds, with no rules or standards. If allowed to stand, over time this will drastically reduce the number of supplements and supplement potencies, raise prices substantially, injure our ability to take care of our health, raise healthcare costs, stifle supplement innovation, and cost millions of jobs in the supplement industry.

For now, though, the Dietary Supplement Labeling Act needs to be defeated. S.1310 has been referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee for further deliberation. If you have not done so already, please contact your senators and representative to voice your opposition to this bill. Please take a moment to send your message now.


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47 Responses to “Disastrous Durbin Bill Finally Online—Help Us Get It Stopped!”

  1. David says:

    Interesting they want the labels of supplements changed which may be a good thing but if so why do they not do the same for GMO advising the food has been modified and the side effects of this. Also the prescription drug industry .They do not really subject them to all the negative effects and I mean the real truth. Congress and the FDA are not there to promote drug companies and contributions by any company should be banned as it is a conflict of interest.Congress is elected to serve the people not companies .

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  2. David says:

    Did anyone bother to read the language of the bill? I’m all for petitions when needed, and lack of legislation if not needed, but this bill actually seems harmless enough and could possibly even be a good thing. If you’re going to write a letter, tell them not to fix what isn’t broken, but in my mind labels about possible adverse reactions isn’t a bad thing. People are afraid of losing their vitamins and suppliments, but there is no mention of anything of the sort in the actual language of the bill.

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    • ANH-USA says:

      Although the bill does not outright ban any supplements on its face (it couldn’t — that would be too politically unpopular) it does grant the FDA and IOM the power to ban any combinations and doses of supplements they want, while specifying no concrete standards of evidence that would need to be met. The IOM/FDA would simply say they don’t believe it is safe, based on their own arbitrary/biased standards, and then the product would become banned.

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      • David says:

        I understand the concern and am also concerned but from the bill: “the Institute of Medicine shall evaluate dietary supplement ingredients and proprietary blends of ingredients, including those on the list compiled by the Secretary under subsection (a), and scientific literature on dietary supplement ingredients and, not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of the Dietary Supplement Labeling Act of 2011, submit to the Secretary a report evaluating the safety of dietary supplement ingredients and proprietary blends of ingredients the Institute of Medicine determines could cause potentially serious adverse events, drug interactions, contraindications, or potential risks to subgroups such as children and pregnant or breastfeeding women.” This does not sound arbitrary to me. I’m just trying to stay open-minded, and I think that if the effort was to try to make suppliments better and safer, this kind of legislation could be a good thing. I know that many vitamins and suppliments are manufactured in India and China where they don’t have strong quality control and not all suppliments are good quality. As a lobbying organization, it seems like you should be lobbying for better quality and good labeling. I truly appreciate your good work. (any way to get most recent posts at the top instead the bottom?)

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        • ANH-USA says:

          David, our concern is that the language “…the Institute of Medicine determines could cause…” is too vague. On what basis will they make this determination? Will it be the same basis they used to determine that taking more than 4,000IU a day of vitamin D is unsafe for Americans? Will it be the same basis they used to determine that taking more than 2,000 mg of vitamin C in a day is unsafe? There is no guideline established in the law that instructs the IOM what evidence they can or must consider when determining if a supplement is unsafe, and given IOM’s notoriously low recommendations, we would hate to see those low recommendations become codified in law as actual limits on manufacturing. A cautionary tale: in Europe a similar agency was allowed to make bans based on dosages and ingredients, and now vitamin D cannot be sold in doses greater than 1,000IU unless bought directly from a medical practitioner’s office.

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    • karen pascale says:

      David, yes you are right it does not APPEAR that this bill will have any negative effect on the vitamin industry…but in fact it is just another blow to the industry, another hit on the crack that they want to break wide open to make vitamins like Germany, by perscription, regulated, and prescribed by doctors only…look at the vitamins they have now turnedinto drugs, fish oil, vit a, calcium, vit d, …this is the goal NAD THIS BILL IS PART AND PARCLE TO THAT END….forther more it will put a burden on the indiviual companies in the vitamin industry, thus eliminating more and more companies…I suggest you read the info on the Down side or CONS of this bill….please.

      Also, as you have already pointed out, GMO’s…not being labled???? So do you not see the two sides of this sword in this very examole?? The thing that is bad BUT PROFITABLE is not labled but the thing, vitamins, which cuts into their (drug companies and lobby/special interst money/contributions to Congress) money IS SOUGHT TO BE LIMITED, REGULATED ????????????????? IT IS BACKWARDS FOR A REASON….THINK AND SAY NO TO Bill S1310!

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  3. Irma says:

    I’ve been able to keep myself out of the hospital in spite of having multiple health problems by using supplements-even when my doctor wants to litterally force me to take his rxs. I’ve been put in the position of having to lie to them because I get threatened to be discharged if I don’ comply.
    I have been working in the health care field for over 30 years and I know how dangerous some of the medications are. The saddest thing is that most doctors are in denial of this and they just go along with what the pharmaceutical rep tells them. I do not deny there is a need for prescribed medications for some of us- but many times ” less is more.”

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  4. L.P. says:

    Keep your G-Dam hands Off My Supplements!!!!!!!!!!

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  5. John says:

    This bill is absolutely essential! These probiotic dietary supplements are designed to deliver live cultures of bacteria directly to the gut’s biome! To do this, they are placed in a controlled release capsule that bypasses the hydrochloric acid of the stomach that evolution has put there to sterilize the food that we eat so that it cannot cause us harm and may be more easily digested into nutrients. The purpose of these companies selling supplements is just that, to SELL them. Not to make people better. We need to have a better understanding of what is in the supplements by making a standardized label system that covers all necessary information (note, what is deemed necessary changes as we discover more about the nature of the gut’s biome. Currently 95% of the species in the gut are unknown! Why do you people trust corporations so much? The melatonin incident in baby formula is an excellent example of pseudo science run amok. With better labeling and more oversight, those children needn’t have died. The only people with their chief concern being your health are the oversight agencies! The company’s chief concern is selling there product! Stop assuming and start demanding transparency!

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  6. nannette says:

    FDA should devote time to important things like analyzing why women had so many miscarriages after recieving h1ni shot. The safety of Gardisil – many girls have died after its use on their bodies. Making sure dangerous drugs like Vioxx dont recieve a “fast track” approval. etc….

    This bill will just kill a billion dollar industry in America, destroy our abilities to maker choices over our health. No body will be any healthier or safer due to this bad law. The only happy people will be the big Pharma masters who own the FDA. How needed is reform for this agency. Corruption at its best.

    Mr. Durbin should really work on HOW Illinois could elect governers who can actually stay out of prison. This is the second one in a short span of time. Shame.

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  7. diana says:

    Is it too late to collect signatures for a new Bill which would take vitamin supplements out of the FDAs jurisdiction, forever? And to prevent the FDA from making arbitrary decisions? And to get the drug people out of the FDA because they have a conflict of interest with the drug companies for which they worked? The FDAs power needs to be limited. Now. Before it harms Americans any more.

    We need a Health Bill of Rights which protects our right to decide what to put into our bodies and what to keep out of it. We need a right to privacy and the personal right to decide. And we need the right to be informed about the chemicals placed into food and drugs, and about the adverse reactions, including death, resulting from the drugs, vaccines and other products the FDA approves for public consumption.

    The government should not decide for us that we or our children should be vaccinated (the US has the highest vaccination rate in the world and also the highest infant mortality rate among “western” nations; Singapore has the lowest infant mortality rate and it administers only 2 vaccines to infants; incidence of SIDS is 7 times higher within 3 days of vaccination), that we should eat GMO food or any other toxic substance. We have the right to be informed. And the government has no business telling Americans that they can’t take supplements, especially since supplements improve health and no one has died from taking supplements. (But how many have died from Tylenol, vaccines, or the drugs manufactured by the FDA?)

    The FDA no longer is an agency which protects Americans. It seems to be an agency that harms Americans, instead. Get rid of the FDA. At least get it out of the natural foods and supplement industry.

    We really need a bill to limit the FDA’s powers.

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  8. Wallace Gordon Dickson says:

    Please note – those of us who live and pay taxes in the District of Columbia cannot participate in these critically important national issues because we have no voice in the national Congress or federal Government. We pay federal income taxes, serve in the United States military forces, and consider ourselves American citizens, yet we do not enjoy the basic rights and freedoms of all other American citizens. We have no representation in Congress, so have no voice in the national debates. We have no voice in matters of declarations of war, adoption of the federal budget (or for that matter adoption of our own municipal budget, since Congress has the power to repudiate our laws and budgets), or any other life and death decisions our government makes. We have no control over our own lives or destiny! Whenever we receive appeals like this to contact our Senator or Representatives in Congress to lobby for or against an important issue which affects our lives, we are frustrated and angry with the knowledge that we have NO ONE to write to or call. We have no voice in the national legislature. Do you understand? Most Americans do not realize that citizens of Washington, DC, the nation’s capital city, have no right to participate in the national government! We are the last colony! We send our men and women off to war to fight for democracy across the globe, to fight for the rights of citizens of foreign nations, yet on their return (if they are so lucky as to return) they find they have no democratic rights or voice in their own governmental affairs! Please support our cause for DC Statehood! As this is the only way (through a grant of statehood) we will gain permanently our fundamental Constitutional rights to participate in our national government. Only then will we have two Senators on the Hill, like all other Americans, to whom we can write or call to express our grievances – and finally have a voice in our national debates on issues that affect our lives just as they affect the lives of all other citizens. Please support our cause for DC Statehood, then we will be able to support your cause too.

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  9. Brad Holmstrom says:

    The Dietary Supplement Labeling Act is a further invasion into my rights as a consumer! From what I’ve read it has unnecessary layers of inappropriate intervention designed to increase cost of doing business in the nutritional supplement world! This is a set up for good nutrition companies to go under, due to cost overrides OR pass on the cost of compliance into these unnecessary interventions on to the comsumer! This will make it even harder for people to control their own health due to restrictions and costs.! Disease will win out, unfairly shortening people’s lives! This will also delay approval when new research shows a change in dosage level needed for optimal health! STOP THIS BILL!!!

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  10. Brenda says:

    This bill would literally mean a death sentence for my Husband. His body and daily quality of life, DEPENDS on all natural supplements to maintain ANY weight and self sustained well-being.

    He does not tolerate pharmaceuticals without painful and other side-effects, that then, require addtl costs (extra supplements), and undo stress to both his body and mental health, undoing the damage they cause.

    This has been a 20+ yr. struggle and costly learning experience (both to his mental health and body), so, I do not say this lightly, nor is it to the extreme. From the bottom of my heart… I wish it were. I even outlined what can/WILL begin to happen in a matter of mere days, if he is denied the supplements his body needs. And plan to send it to any/all I can in hope it helps, as well as, sharing it online for those willing to read it.

    Many of us have watched the writing on the wall over the years. And for us, this would be the worst travesty to man-kind if allowed to pass. The fall-out would be far too great to even begin to fathom.

    Far too many think supplements are simply a CHOICE. But, let me clarify here and now, there are countless numbers who RELY on them for their health and some normalcy and quality of life, many simply take for granted. We’re proof of that.

    Words simply can not convey how we feel right now. Nor how we will feel IF Americans simply stand by and allow this to happen. It will be the saddest day in our families life and no longer Proud Americans. Of that, you can be sure.

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  11. April Martin says:

    Dear Congressman,

    I am tired of interference with my health choices. Michele Obama wants to ban all junk food, while at the same time others are trying to remove my choice to research and live a healthy lifestyle. Enough is enough! Americans need to be free to be fat or thin, healthy or not. Choice seems to be regal word of the day with abortion issues and little else. Get out of my home and kitchen! I would like the ability to choose for my family what is best. No one knows or loves my family more than my husband and I, therefore, no one can make better decisions. Lastly, quit spending my hard earned tax dollars to interfere in my home.

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  12. Vince says:

    STOP!

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  13. Pamela Bernard says:

    Please vote against letting the FDA from regulating Vitamin Supplements. Please protect our rights to freedom of speach and choice from a branch of the government that is supported by drug companies and sees them and not me as their clients. Please stop the act of taking away my freedoms and driving prices up on products so that I can’t afford what I feel is best for myself and family.
    Thank You,
    Pamela Bernard

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  14. Candy says:

    People have to pay attention to who they elect. Some parties tend more for regulation and tax. It’s about control and power. They always think they know better and can make better decisions for you than you can. It’s all about losing your freedom. People need to wake up. That is unless you want someone else making decisions about what you can eat etc.

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  15. Dorothy says:

    So, what does one do when her senator IS Dick Durbin? I’ll tell you one thing, I’ve never voted for this guy. I’ve reached out to him about numerous bills only to find out that he’s usually the one originating them.

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  16. Grace Adams says:

    Large corporations have managed to buy both Congress and most of the regulatory agencies. The large corporations most avid interest is in grabbing as much money as possible for themselves. They consider everyone who is not a valued employee of a large corporation at best an unnecessary expense and more likely as vermin. Supplements are an example of something that large corporations oppose because they allow the hoi poloi to fend for themselves instead of buying the products of the large corporations.

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  17. Patricia/Thomas Dillavou/Frazier says:

    The FDA and the IOM are not to be trusted. The FDA has erred time after time on critical issues, while the IOM grossly and grievously understated even the basic RDA for Vitamin D3 in a country where up to 90% of the population is vitamin D deficient – with more than half of them chronically deficient. They don’t know what they’re doing and cannot be trusted to monitor our supplemental needs.

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  18. Donna Mae Travis says:

    As an American citizen concerned that we are losing more and more of our rights and freedom to do as we choose to purchase and use with supplemental consults iwth alternative health care practicioners, I fully support putting a stop to this unnecessary bill to make into a law where we cannot choose to better increase our health other than evil pharmaceutical drugs which has caused great harms of which I was a victim of.

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  19. Michael Gudat says:

    Gentlemen of the Government,
    Please, Myself and this country need all their options open right now and for the foreseeable future. As I am sure you are aware of so I needn’t remind you, that things are a little slow on the job market these days and again, appears to be so for the foreseeable future.

    I need no further Government control or regulation driving prices up at this time, or in the foreseeable future.
    Yes gentlemen, I am informing you that any Government controls or regulation always raises the price. As a matter of fact I can’t think of a thing that I need further Government controls or regulations placed upon, what so ever.

    Gentlemen, Please leave my supplements alone.

    Michael Gudat

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  20. Brian says:

    THIS BILL MUST BE STOPPED DEAD IN THE WATER IMMEDIATELY.

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  21. We do not need supplement prohibition. We are our keepers, we heal ourselves how we see fit and we do not need any governmental person interfering.

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  22. alexei says:

    “FDA Guidelines a Perversion of Congressional Intent”

    Surely this should read “the FDA – a perversion of Congressional intent”.

    Something seems to have gone horribly wrong with the American notion of democracy and how it is interpreted by most political representatives, who are supposed to have the interests of the people at heart before those of Big Business. And surely nothing, other than the military industrial complex, embodies really, really Big Business better than the entire medical “industry” ?

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  23. Ladawna Nelson says:

    Please please please stop it! We are supposed to be FREE! We don’t need you butting into our health matters.

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  24. Honz Zondorgh says:

    The proposed law trusts the FDA and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to decide what levels and combinations of dietary ingredients are considered safe and what aren’t. Given the FDA’s profound bias against supplements, and the skewed, anti-science recommendations of the IOM’s recent vitamin D report, these are hardly trustworthy sources of guidance!

    If the bill is passed, neither the FDA nor the IOM will even be subject to any clear standards. They can just make it all up as they go along. Their judgments can be completely arbitrary.

    The whole thrust of British and American constitutional history is telling the government it can’t just do anything it likes. There must be written standards and rules encoded in law. The government must follow those standards and rules like anyone else. It can’t just be arbitrary.

    Durbin’s bill in other sections just reinvents the wheel, authorizing the FDA to do what it is already authorized to do, but with vague new language that could prove troublesome later. This isn’t needed. The FDA is fully empowered to enforce the many laws and regulations which already exist—provided by DSHEA, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, and Good Manufacturing Practices guidelines.

    Sen. Durbin’s bill needs to be defeated. Period. That said, it’s a bill that modifies the procedures set forth by DSHEA, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994. And any bill that modifies the procedures set up by DSHEA should have at least two elements that are not in Durbin’s bill. It must:

    uphold the right to free speech about the science and health benefits of dietary supplements, and
    create a new agency under Health and Human Services dedicated to overseeing nutritional supplements.
    FDA is supposed to be concerned with food and drugs; supplements are their own category, utterly different from either food or drugs, so they should not fall under the same agency’s administrative power. This is especially important since the FDA is so hostile to supplements and so beholden to drug companies.

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Honz Zondorgh

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  25. Esther Allman says:

    The power you wish to give to the FDA will give the agency power it should NOT have under its domain. The agency is too beholding to the drug companies, and it cannot fairly handle more responsibility.

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  26. Shell Lavender says:

    Supplements are not drugs and are very necessary to the health and well being of the population, with the advent of factory farming our food supply is declining in nutritional value and safety, so having access to necessary supplements for good nutrition is mandatory to good health.

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  27. Please don’t let the FDA get involved in regulating our ability to take dietary supplements we want to take to maintain a healthy body.

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  28. Mary O'Connor says:

    leave my supplements alone!!!!!

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  29. Terri Hastings says:

    Vitamins and supplements have been safe and effective for decades. I consider this bill hostile to anyone who wishes to make their personal choice to what is best for their health..please stop this bill…there are much more urgent agendas which should be considered!!!

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  30. LOLA says:

    I want to make the decision re supplements NOT the govt.

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  31. Kim Crowdis says:

    Stop this insanity. Supplements of vitamins and minerals and some herbs are NOT drugs and should not be treated as such.

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  32. Jean Wahl says:

    what don’t you like?

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  33. Jean Wahl says:

    Please vote against S.1310. My mother took vitamins since 1950, She died at 95 yrs even though she had diabetis for 30 yrs. I attribute this to her taking supplements and eating right. I would the appreciate making my own decision regarding supplement as I have the last 25 years and hope my children can also. If everybody took care of themselves, the health care system would save money. the alternative is drugs with side effects. Preventative measures is where we should be going. Keep the FDA’s hands off our supplements. They a lot less harm than drug.

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  34. Margret Garner says:

    Regarding the Senate Bill 1310, I Strongly object. It is my belief that both the FDA and the IOM would wish to control my usage of Dietary Supplements. My health, along with the health of millions of other self-educated people would be greatly affected with the passage of this Bill.

    I urge you to work to defeat this bill

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  35. Craig Robinson says:

    The Durbin Bill and the FDA are both bad for Americans. Give us our freedom and let us make all the choices. –Craig

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  36. Kim says:

    Bill, S.1310 needs to be stopped. It seems FDA is only getting more power if this bill is passed. The FDA will not help our health if they have the right to tell vitamin companies what they can and can’t put in their vitamins. Scary…

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    • Emma Cobb says:

      Please stop the Durbin Bill. I strongly object to someone else making my decisions for me. Give us freedom to make our own choices. Emma

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      • Jean Loney says:

        Please, government needs to stop making decisions that private citizens need to make for them selves. Most people should and are smart enough to decide tor themselves if they need or do not need to take supplements for their health. Please, we are not baby`s needing the government leading us by the hand,, give us credit that we can manage our own lives with out the government holding our hands

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        • Claudia says:

          I agree Jean. I want to be able to weigh the odds and decide to use pharmaceuticals or not. It isn’t right that they have that much power.

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    • Claudia says:

      I can’t believe this passed! This is SICK! I thought I lived in America! I had strep throat for the last two weeks and used goldenseal powder to heal myself. It was the only way to avoid the Amoxicillin that was prescribed to me. So what you’re saying is that the government can take that choice away from me???

      Why won’t Big Pharma admit that they are useless??? Instead of admitting that they have a very small role in healing if any, they’ve invaded our government with corrupted politicians! I’m very, very frightened right now. This can’t happen! I will do whatever I can to fight this.

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  37. Michael Davidson says:

    Hopefully the people will thow this clown out

       0 likes

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