The Pulse of Natural Health Newsletter

Stay informed about what is hot in Washington and the states about natural health

NY Attorney General Doubles Down in His Supplement Attack

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Having made his initial move based on discredited tests, he is now broadening the offensive and pulling in AGs from other states. Action Alert!

Early last month, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent cease-and-desist letters to four major national chain retailers, charging them with selling nutritional supplements that were “deliberately mislabeled” and “potentially dangerous to public health.”

As you may recall, Mr. Schneiderman took these actions on the basis of only one testing technology from only one laboratory, performed by a scientist whose work centers on the evolutionary genetics of reptiles. A new white paper released by four industry experts thoroughly outlines why DNA barcoding—the test used in Mr. Schneiderman’s investigation—is not a reliable means for testing the contents of herbal dietary supplements.

As the paper demonstrates, DNA barcoding is a well-established technique “for distinguishing fresh or living tissue obtained from distinct species such as cows and pigs” but is utterly inappropriate for identifying plant species, much less plant extracts in which little or no DNA is extracted. “As a result,” the paper states, “attempts to sequence and analyze [botanical extracts]typically would lead to false negative results, as suspected in the recent investigation by the NY AG.”

The problem, according to the authors of the paper, is that

society has developed an uncritical—and sometimes, misplaced acceptance of the ability of DNA testing to be 100% reliable, no matter how it is performed and who performs it. However, the fact is that we would not expect DNA testing of humans to be performed by a botanist. The same holds true in DNA testing of botanical dietary supplements; the specific laboratory and equipment, the particular methods used, and the individual scientists all play an important role in the accuracy and validity of DNA test results.

DNA barcoding has previously been shown to be inaccurate by botanical scientists and is not the standard utilized by the FDA in determining if products are appropriately labeled. Even scientists who are generally critical of nutritional supplements, such as Dr. Pieter Cohen of Harvard Medical School, agree that the wrong test was used.

Apparently Mr. Schneiderman isn’t going to let scientific fact and good sense get in the way of his campaign against supplements. Rather than showing the same transparency he expects of industry by making the results of the DNA tests public, he is pulling more supplement companies into the fracas. Letters were sent to four additional companies (Nature’s Way, NBTY, Nutraceutical, and Pharmavite) requesting what would likely amount to hundreds of thousands of pages of documents pertaining to products sold in New York. The AG’s document request includes:

  • copies of all manufacturing, licensing or sales contracts since January 1, 2013
  • a detailed description of all testing methods used on finished products to substantiate affirmative claims such as “gluten-free” or “hypoallergenic”; and
  • copies of all reports, complaints, or other documents reflecting adverse health.

There’s a certain logic to this tactic: If you don’t know what you’re looking for, just ask for anything and everything.

In another bold step, GNC, Walmart, Target, and Walgreen’s have been subpoenaed by the New York AG’s office, which is now demanding evidence to support structure/function claims on their labels. This is a bizarre and worrisome shift of focus. Structure/function claims are statements that describe the role of a nutrient or dietary ingredient as it affects normal structure or function in humans—for example, “calcium builds strong bones” or “vitamin D boosts immune system function”—and food and supplement producers are legally allowed to make such claims. The FDA already regulates structure/function claims made by supplement companies, just as it already has full authority to test supplements for their contents.

Both of these tactics are little more than fishing expeditions conducted by the New York AG because, in all likelihood, they couldn’t substantiate their initial claims based on the DNA barcoding tests when they reviewed the science.

Mr. Schneiderman has also built a coalition of other state AGs to “crack down on fraud and quality control issues in the herbal supplement industry.” Already the AGs from Indiana, Connecticut, and Puerto Rico have reportedly joined Mr. Schneiderman. One can only assume more attacks against supplements are on the horizon.

Adding to the injustice here is that most of the news reports about this incident paint nutritional supplements in a negative light, when the vast majority of manufacturers subject their herbal products to rigorous and open scientific testing. On top of that, they are held to current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) guidelines, which require regular testing using accepted and scientifically validated methodologies. In fact, such a testing regimen, already in use throughout the industry, is one reason supplements have such an exemplary track record of safety and efficacy.

Action Alert! Write to your state Attorney General’s office and tell your AG not to support these unsubstantiated attacks against the supplement industry! Enough is enough. Please send your message immediately!

Take-Action

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  • Alan8

    I will not take this action.

    The government SHOULD crack down on supplements are are mislabeled, and on misleading claims.

    There are attacks on our freedom to supplement, BUT THIS IS NOT ONE OF THEM.

  • curtis

    After millions of deaths due to pharmaceuticals and none by natural substances they want to outlaw them! Speaking of being bought and paid for !

  • Bill Ziese

    Here’s an idea. PAY OFF THE AG’s like the auto industry does to prevent recalls when their cars KILL people. MONEY TALK’S.

    Since the NYAG used a reptile expert to check the “safety” of supplements, maybe we can use Wal-Mart check out employees to check the safety of our airlines.

  • DK

    I don’t enjoy the Supplement Attacks… however, there are far too many Opportunists making a lot of money on JUNK…. I agree there should be TRUTH in LABELING for ALL SELLERS of Vitamins. Sorry I can’t support this.

  • Sounds like you guys are being paid by the supplement companies. Why are the supplement companies not proving their supplements are as good as they say they are. If I can buy their product in Walmart, there has to be something wrong with it.

    • AB

      @ Jerry Falk:
      I can buy all of my pharmaceuticals at Walmart. Does that mean they also have something wrong with them? The type of statement you made is totally invalid.

      As for purchasing supplements, I take many supplements daily to ward off resurgence of my Lyme disease which I have had for almost 60 years – starting long before the disease was identified. The ability to obtain high quality supplements – that were only suggested by my physician because not being pharmaceuticals, he could not write prescriptions for them – makes it possible to for me to live antibiotic free. The antibiotics were destroying my liver and kidneys and with the use of supplements, my enzyme levels have returned to normal or almost normal. With supplements, my Lyme symptoms continue to be under control – not gone, but manageable.

      If you wish not to use supplements, then I wish you peace. For me, who can not enjoy life without them, please allow me to make my own choice for treatments.

  • Jan Lindner

    Instead of attacking supplements, you ought to regulate Big Pharma. But letting people control their OWN healthcare doesnt’ pay nearly as well, does it? Contemptible.

  • Maureen Shea

    Do you have a letter for New York State Residents?. The New York State letter needs to be addressed directly to Schneiderman.

    • Yes! If you are a New York resident, you will be able to access this state-specific alert through the second Take Action button at the bottom of the article. This will go directly to Schneiderman and your state legislators. Thanks for taking action!

  • Theodore M. Thomas

    Please tell the NY (ASHOL) Attorney General to go after cigarette and alcohol, known killers and leave our supplements alone. I don’t know what these people are thinking. He must have been paid lots of money by big pharma. He is just another sell out!!!!

  • Julie Collins

    We tale quality supplements, and some of them really do make a difference in protecting our health and plus we have never had any side affects from any of them, and we take some of them together. Look at the pharmaceutical drugs/ medications that are harming and killing people left and right. Now these types of pills can be dangerous. Maybe they ought to point the finger where it belongs.

  • Gayle Janzen

    Hello – I tried to send the letter to my AG in WA state, but it said that action wasn’t available to me. I thought this was going to all the AG’s in the country except for the specific alert for NY residents.

  • Charlotte Braun

    Do not take supplements away. What you should look at very closely is prescription drugs. More people die from prescription drugs than from supplements, although people do not die from supplements. Pharmaceutical canoes LIE about drugs ’cause the bottom line is MONEY!!!!!
    You should know that by now. Also, the prices on drugs are rediculous!!!!! Many drug companies have had to pay a HIGH PRICE for lying about their products.
    Sincerely,
    Charlotte Braun

  • Christine

    How about tracking structure/function relations of EVERY DAYS’ GMO FOOD??? Shouldn’t that go first, given how much of it everyone is eating EVERY DAY, unknowingly?? Please check
    how legal GMO food actually is at:

    http://www.biointegrity.org/

    and please read the section: “The Illegality of FDA Policy on GE Foods”

    or better look into the new book from Steven M. Druker: “Altered genes, twisted Truth”.

  • casper

    this is not fair and it creates a medical monopoly

  • Thomas Z. Cady

    There are some things that are unbelievable; New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman should be an embarrassment to any civilized mind or anyone that believe in the American Way and freedom to chose. Eric needs to check out my family in early Upstate New York in history as Judges, State positions; including a Senator; not to mention physicians and doctors. All got their supplementation from non-GMO home gardens and farms with “natural soils”.

  • RichardB

    All supplements should be under the control of the FDA. And people should be warned not to take a supplement without consulting their primary health care provider first. Some supplements don’t even work as advertised. There should be a medically necessary reason for the use of supplements. “My sister takes it” or “My friend at work recommended it”, is not enough reason to take supplements. People would do better the eat a normal healthy diet, get good exercise and the proper sleep and rest, than to pop these pills as though they were M&Ms.

    • Deb M.

      Well, Richard, some people actually know what they’re doing when they select specific supplements for certain conditions. I don’t need you or the FDA regulating what I can or can’t buy.

    • JAY RICHARDS

      When ill-informed doctors become become gatekeepers and authorities of their misinformation then only chaos and loss of personal responsibility-choice results. The paradigm of the DR knows all is a long past fantasy. Nobody else can dictate what works best for your body, let alone your preference and choice. Due diligence is everbodys personal responsibility, not just an unqualified or overrated or overspecialized DR.

    • Please I ask that you read this with an open mind…. http://www.senatedocument264.com/

    • Lynne

      Well, how many primary health care providers wrote prescriptions for Vioxx or that Bayer aids infested drug or perhaps the polio vaccine so famously recommended that happened to have that little pesky monkey cancer virus in it. Show me where these supplements can or have been shown to compete with these deadly drugs and I will think about you comments.

  • Cathy Syrett

    I tried to sign the letter to the NY AG and was not able to as it said I was not from the right state or my rep does not have a form of some kind. I have signed many letters, some through this website. I live in NY. Steve Isreal is my congressman and he has the internet vapability to receive these types of letters. This is something I feel strongly about and would really like to get this letter to him. This is ridiculous

  • Instead of going after vitamin companies, why don’t you go aftyer bthe big drug companies whose products can give you cancer, thoughts of suicide, etc

    Oh, I forgot……..they have lobbyists for you poiticians in office

  • Roger Fuller

    March 18, 2015
    Vitamins and nutritional supplements have an excellent track record of rarely causing injury when used properly. Compare that to Pharmaceutical Drugs :

    ation: medically caused death in America
    Shopping
    Jon Rappoport’s Blog
    To
    me
    Mar 6
    Jon Rappoport posted: “The Starfield revelation: medically caused death in America By Jon Rappoport March 6, 2015 http://www.nomorefakenews.com My 2009 interview with Dr. Barbara Starfield, a year and a half before she died, focused on her stunning exposure of medically cause”
    Respond to this post by replying above this line
    New post on Jon Rappoport’s Blog

    The Starfield revelation: medically caused death in America
    by Jon Rappoport

    The Starfield revelation: medically caused death in America

    By Jon Rappoport
    March 6, 2015
    http://www.nomorefakenews.com

    My 2009 interview with Dr. Barbara Starfield, a year and a half before she died, focused on her stunning exposure of medically caused death in America.

    Starfield was a revered public health expert at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Her July 26, 2000, review, “Is US health really the best in the world?”, was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

    In other words, this was a mainstream report. There was every reason for it to cause a firestorm in the press, and in the halls of government.

    But that’s not what happened.

    After a flurry of press stories, intentional amnesia set in.

    If you’re looking for evidence that institutionalized American medicine doesn’t care about killing people, here it is.

    Medical societies don’t care, most doctors don’t care, medical schools don’t care, public-health agencies don’t care, Congress doesn’t care, the Department of Justice doesn’t care, Presidents don’t care, drug companies don’t care, insurance companies don’t care.

    As for major media and medical reporters, they intentionally hide this story and its implications every day of every year.

    When people with the power to do something about medically caused death—and I’m talking about huge numbers of victims—know what’s going on and ignore it…what do you call that? Depraved indifference? Negligent homicide?

    I call it murder.

    Mass murder.

    Barack Obama and his allies have done everything they can to bring more people into the US medical system. Changing that system has never occurred to these politicians.

    Like much of America, they accept the cliches and slogans about…

  • Roger Fuller

    3-18-2015
    Something went wrong with my last comment I just made. The story got deleted. But Jon Rappoport quoted Dr. Barbara Starfield who said in year 2000 that 225,000 deaths were caused each year by the Medical Establishment; including 106,000 from Pharmaceutical Drugs alone.
    So the Pharmaceutical Drugs are far and away, the much greater Public Health Problem that the Attorneys General are ignoring.
    yours truly,
    Roger Fuller

  • Tim Wallace

    It would appear to me that the NY AG has been put up to this by the likes of Durbin and McCain who want all vitamins and supplements off the market unless they are regulated as prescriptions.

  • I was not able to contact my AG here in Washington State although I used the proper take action icon
    above. I had the same problem when I wrote twice about the vaccination bill in my state a few weeks ago. It told me this time that I was not in the correct state. Huh? Anyway, it is discouraging to write
    and have it not go through.

  • CUBIE MADDOX

    What does it matter if we look out for our own health? Is this not a violation of free choice? If this was a problem of going after scammers, why don’t they do that instead of messing with debatable health issues.

    I’ll tell you why! The political system is crowded with deceivers and destroyers of the human race. Politicians should stick with what they were elected to do and stay out of private decisions about health unless it affects others by spreading a disease that is uncureable.

    What happened to the war on drugs? Oh, I almost forgot – pharmaceutical inventions are drugs. Such a war would eventually destroy them too.

    So why do we need a political babysitter, when we can make our own decisions with free choice of what is available?

    Answer: Its not the American way – because we don’t like to use our own brains, thus we need agencies & politicians who think for us.

  • Laura

    Every time I landed on the page to write to my rep, it jumped to somewhere else. I think someone is hacking you.