“Regulate Supplements Like Drugs!”: Senator Durbin on NPR



In just under five minutes, he reveals his plan, which would effectively eliminate supplements from the shelves. Action Alert!

We’ve told you before about Sen. Dick Durbin’s (D-IL) Dietary Supplement Labeling Act. Recently, he went on National Public Radio’s Science Friday to drum up support for this dishonest bill.

Sen. Durbin’s strategy has been to paint the dietary supplement industry as under-regulated and over-influential, blocking small, reasonable regulatory changes that would protect vulnerable consumers. (This, of course, is patently false, as we’ve proven over and over.) Don’t be deceived by the spin. The proposed changes are neither small nor reasonable.

The NPR interview was important because the senator came out of the shadows to speak on the record. By doing so, he demonstrated his fundamental (or perhaps willful) lack of understanding about the natural health industry, dietary supplements, their regulation, and even his own legislation. He also fully revealed his intentions for nutritional supplements—that they be regulated like drugs!

Here are some of the highlights from the full transcript:

[The bill requires supplement manufacturers to] provide the FDA with…some basic information about…whether there’s any chemical included in the product that might interact with other drugs or cause some difficulty. It’s just basic information.

In his own words, Sen. Durbin is saying that supplement producers would be legally liable for identifying anything about the supplement that “might” interact with a drug or cause some vague and ill-defined additional difficulty. This is not “basic information.” Even drug companies are not required to report how a drug might interact with all other drugs, because they could not do so. How would the supplement producers know about what “might” interact with every single drug? Or cocktail of drugs? No supplement producer could possibly comply with this requirement, and could face jail or bankruptcy for failing to comply. Sen. Durbin knows full well that this would shut down the supplement industry.

To make it more confusing, Durbin’s bill doesn’t actually require what the senator says it does. Perhaps he wanted this provision but dropped it for the time being and then forgot. Whatever the explanation, this seems to be yet another instance of a senator not reading or understanding his own bill.

The bill does require the FDA to create a list of ingredients that could cause drug interactions, AERs, or problems for sensitive populations. This is still nonsense, because the FDA also would not be able to be sure whether an ingredient interacted with a drug, given the numbers of ingredients and drugs. And of course to be complete, a list of interactions would decide whether the interaction was minor or potentially serious and cover not just one ingredient and one drug, but cocktails of ingredients and drugs. Good luck to anyone trying to figure this out.

According to the bill as written, the IOM (U.S. Institute of Medicine) would study the FDA’s list of interactions. Those judged to be risky would require warnings on the labels. That’s right, completely arbitrary determinations resulting in label warnings—which, if the IOM is involved, will probably include warnings on dosages of vitamins. This creates a slippery slope to a restrictive system like the one they have in the European Union, because it starts with an arbitrary determination of risk and mandatory labeling, and goes from there.

Remember how the IOM originally identified 10,000 IU as a safe threshold for vitamin D, then suddenly and without explanation decided to set the limit at 4,000 IU? The IOM now recommends 600 IU as a daily dosage for people between the ages of 1 and 70 (as if all ages and body weights from infancy on should be identical). By contrast, Harvard and the Vitamin D Council recommend anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 IU a day.

So if, in the senator’s bill, the IOM gets to decide on dosages, we might see warning labels for dosages that many respected health researchers believe are minimal therapeutic amounts! This is particularly absurd given the enormity of evidence for higher levels of vitamin D. This could be an eventual backdoor to the extremely low Upper Limits favored by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and Codex, which have already led to extremely low dietary supplement dosages in the EU.

The senator always takes care to sound reasonable, even when he is being anything but reasonable. For example:

I want at least to be sure, as a consumer, of what I’m consuming and what my family would be consuming.

Well, we can certainly agree with the senator about the Right to Know! We believe all food and food-like substances (which is the technical definition of a dietary supplement) should be clearly labeled as to what they contain. As we’ll discuss further below, this is already required by law with one glaring exception: genetically modified organisms. Unfortunately support for GMO labeling would no doubt get the senator in trouble with Big Farma in Illinois.

The senator continues:

I’m not ruling out dietary supplements….but I think the standard we’ve tried to establish is, Are they safe? Are they safe for the general public?…And secondly, are they effective?

Safety and efficacy: these terms, to the average person, probably again sound quite reasonable. However, these are the exact FDA code words for the drug approval process! The senator clearly intends to subject dietary supplements to FDA drug standards.

Here’s the problem. If either healthy foods or the dietary supplements were regulated by the FDA like drugs, they would be subjected to the drug industry’s “gold standard”—the RCTs that cost billions of dollars. The latest average cost figure we have seen is $2.3 billion per approval.

In most cases, natural products like supplements can’t be patented, so supplement companies could never hope to make back an investment in FDA approval. In addition, many supplements should be taken with co-factors and so should not be studied in isolation like a drug.

If Sen. Durbin gets his way, most dietary supplement companies would be put out of business, clearing the way for Big Pharma to take over with their synthetic versions of the same products—at prescription prices. And as we noted last month, 157 million Americans—half the US population—take supplements each year, but less than one-hundredth of one percent of them have adverse effects from them—an average of only 1,575 per year. By comparison, there are on average 526,527 adverse events for prescription drugs each year—275,421 of which have “serious outcomes,” including death.

FDA-approved drugs cause over 400 times the number of adverse events of nutritional supplements, more than 100,000 calls to Poison Control Centers, 56,000 emergency room visits, 2,600 hospitalizations, and 80% of Poison Control fatalities—nearly 500 deaths each year are attributed to acetaminophen (Tylenol) alone! In each case, the problem is being caused by an FDA approved product ( for more on this see our article today on rheumatoid arthritis drugs).

While we are on the subject of safety, Sen. Durbin’s words show that he either doesn’t know or chooses to ignore that nutritional supplements already go through a safety testing process. Supplement companies, by law, must comply with the Dietary Supplement Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs) and must conduct testing throughout the production process as well as testing the finished product for quality control. As with the pharmaceutical industry, the burden is on supplement companies to test their own products, because in the end they are liable should FDA choose to take enforcement action against them.

More from the senator:

I think most Americans would be surprised to know that the dietary supplements which they’ve purchased…are not registered with the US Food and Drug Administration with any basic information. The bill that I’ve suggested [requires]that every manufacturer provide the FDA with a copy of their label as well as a list of ingredients….

The senator surely knows that:

Also, let’s not forget that FDA has full power to take enforcement action, should any supplement—new or old—prove harmful or illegal.

When asked what’s the “hold-up” on increased regulation of dietary supplements, the senator responds:

I’ve been trying for a long, long time to move in this direction, but there are players in the industry that resist any type of disclosure.

Let’s be honest. Supplement manufacturers have very little influence on Capitol Hill. The “big players” on this bill are actually from the drug industry! PhRMA, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, is considered one of DC’s top lobbying groups, and is zealously trying to keep natural supplements from gaining any more of a foothold in the lucrative healthcare field.

No, the driving force behind the opposition to Sen. Durbin’s anti-supplement legislation is not the supplement manufacturers, but consumers! After all, it was consumer-activists like you that sent over 100,000 messages to Congress to defeat his 2012 anti-supplement amendment (the 2012 amendment is—verbatim—the same Labeling Bill he’s pushing now).

So far, Sen. Durbin lacks even the support of his own colleagues: S.1424 (the Labeling Act) has only one-cosponsor, and his 2012 amendment was defeated by a vote of 77 to 20 (that’s particularly harsh, coming from a Democrat-controlled Congress).

More from the senator:

I think there are opportunities out there [for dietary supplements]and I applaud the research that tries to move us in new areas to find cures.

Despite this further attempt to sound reasonable, the senator knows full well that dietary supplements can’t claim to treat or “cure” diseases: this would make them drugs in the FDA’s eyes, and they would—surprise!—have to be taken through the full FDA approval process.

Just as important as what Sen. Durbin does say is what he doesn’t say. He fails to mention overwhelming consumer support for dietary supplements free from additional government requirements that would destroy the market. He ignores the mountain of evidence that dietary supplements are far safer than even over-the-counter drugs (as was clearly demonstrated by the GAO report that the senator himself requested). And he is blind to the importance of the dietary supplement industry for the American economy—it has the capacity to support 450,000 jobs and, in 2006, paid more than $10 billion dollars in taxes.

Despite all this, we appreciate that Senator Durbin finally put his views on the record, where they can be discussed objectively, not just buried in the dense legalese of his bill.

Action Alert! Please write your senators immediately and tell them to stop Sen. Durbin’s attacks on your right to use supplements! We need our access to nutritional supplements to be protected. Please write your senators today!


  • Kelli

    The FDA knows little about real nutrition along with other government agencies and they should not be allowed to restrict the public’s access to affective supplements. Durbin is simply attempting to give a further monopoly to drug companies.

  • Theory

    That, is just, nuts.

  • James Murphy

    If FDA-approved drugs have 400 times more adverse reactions, including hospitalization and death, as supplements, then could we extrapolate a four hundred-fold increase in same among the 157 million Americans taking them if they were required to be FDA-approved? Of course that is (I hope) silly! But Sen. Durbin’s proposal to “improve” the dietary supplements marketing system is just as silly. Large loss of jobs, products, chunk of the economy, and patience of the portion of the voting public who use them, many at their doctors’ suggestion. Sen. Durbin is old enough to be familiar with my grandfathers’ advice: “It ain’t broke. Don’t try to fix it!”

  • If only he was as concerned with GMO’s ! He is from my state, and DEKALB seed company is based there. DEKALB seed co. is owned by……..MONSANTO. You think Durbin is going to stand up against one of his political supporters?

  • Ryan Hofer

    “coming from a Democrat-controlled Congress”

    The Senate has a Democrat majority, but not the House of Representatives.

  • Joe Petrosino

    Senator Durban’s, one goal in life for far to long is getting this bill passed by any means one way, or another. I only wish someone would have his motives investigated, I strongley feel Big Pharma is pushing him. With the country falling apart day by day, you whould think he would have some other buniness to attend to, This one issue Senator, seems to be on the wrong side of to many issues. Other members of the Senator’s please give him some thing to do, for the sake of the country.

  • Michael Ruzza

    It’s without thought and substance to generate rules that are inaccurate and arbitrary in their design.

  • I Dressler

    Yet another example of “bought” government officials trying to regulate our lives and limit our choices. I educate myself as to which supplements I would like to take and why. I don’t need the government doing that for me. I get so tired of hearing of Senators like this trying to over regulate our lives, when they should, in fact, be doing something that would truly benefit the people, Like, I don’t know…. how about labeling GMOs and all the limiting all the addictive and harmful chemicals and additives in junk food, or 10,000 other things that would truly help (not restrict) Americans.

  • Barbara Gilbert

    This is a yearly ploy by big pharma to control even more of our society and our economy. People can make informed decisions and do not need Congress or big pharma to make them.
    Thank you

  • Laura

    Please leave us an alternative!

  • Thank you so much for all you are doing. At times it feels so discouraging, but we can’t give up.

  • As chair of the 50,000 member Texas Health Freedom Coalition, I applaud ANH-US for working to bring pressure to bear on Senator Durbin. Now it’s time to take the next step: find out how politically well funded Durbin is by Big Pharma, and make that a prominent part of the debate. He’s not doing this out of the goodness of his heart; he’s become the attack dog for Big Pharma. What are his monetary connections to the pharmaceutical industry? It’s time to find out, and to let the public know Dick Durbin’s true motivation: money.

    • Dee

      Peter, you are correct. ALWAYS FOLLOW THE MONEY………..it leads to the TRUTH!!!

  • Laurence Topliffe

    You do not have the right to regulate what natural supplements i choose to take. You do not understand enough about health.

  • Dara Herman-Zierlein

    please take control of this situation for the future generations
    thank you

  • Dear Senator Durbin,
    I am disappointed in you. Natural supplements are a natural way to be and stay healthy. Have the pharmaceutical companies been getting to you? Do NOT believe them. They are out to make money and their drugs cause dangerous side effects. Then people need to take another drug to counteract the side effects, which cause other side effects and it continues with a down hill spiral. I have been using only natural remedies and am 69.and very healthy. People usually think I am 15-20 years younger because of my energy. My medicare footprint is very inexpensive and it saves the medical costs for the country. If the country would concentrate on prevention instead of covering up symptoms, they would be healthier and it would cost less in the long run. Please do not make it harder and more expensive for consumers to get natural remedies.

    Merle Pieterse

  • Dear Senator Durbin,
    I am disappointed in you. Natural supplements are a natural way to be and stay healthy. Have the pharmaceutical companies been getting to you? Do NOT believe them. They are out to make money and their drugs cause dangerous side effects. Then people need to take another drug to counteract the side effects, which cause other side effects and it continues with a down hill spiral. I have been using only natural remedies and am 69.and very healthy. People usually think I am 15-20 years younger because of my energy. My medicare footprint is very inexpensive and it saves the medical costs for the country. If the country would concentrate on prevention instead of covering up symptoms, they would be healthier and it would cost less in the long run. Please do not make it harder and more expensive for consumers to get natural remedies.

    Merle Pieterse

  • Dear Senator Durbin,
    I am disappointed in you. Natural supplements are a natural way to be and stay healthy. Have the pharmaceutical companies been getting to you? Do NOT believe them. They are out to make money and their drugs cause dangerous side effects. Then people need to take another drug to counteract the side effects, which cause other side effects and it continues with a down hill spiral. I have been using only natural remedies and am 69.and very healthy. People usually think I am 15-20 years younger because of my energy. My medicare footprint is very inexpensive and it saves the medical costs for the country. If the country would concentrate on prevention instead of covering up symptoms, they would be healthier and it would cost less in the long run. Please do not make it harder and more expensive for consumers to get natural remedies.

    Merle Pieterse

  • Dear Senator Durbin,
    I am disappointed in you. Natural supplements are a natural way to be and stay healthy. Have the pharmaceutical companies been getting to you? Do NOT believe them. They are out to make money and their drugs cause dangerous side effects. Then people need to take another drug to counteract the side effects, which cause other side effects and it continues with a down hill spiral. I have been using only natural remedies and am 69.and very healthy. People usually think I am 15-20 years younger because of my energy. My medicare footprint is very inexpensive and it saves the medical costs for the country. If the country would concentrate on prevention instead of covering up symptoms, they would be healthier and it would cost less in the long run. Please do not make it harder and more expensive for consumers to get natural remedies.

    Merle Pieterse

  • John Dixon

    Dietary supplements should NOT have more or stricture requirements on them than do the drug companies. To require that supplement manufacturers would know how their supplement might react with any and all drugs is an undue burden that would basically eliminate their ability to do business. What makes more sense is that DRUG companies be able to publish that information.

  • Are the natural supplement people going on NPR? or has npr been reduced to the mainstream media and not oriented to the people who “support” them? Of course natural supplements are safer. The earth has always seen to its inhabitants and only we are stupid enough to eat the poison plants but her poisons as you point out do not begin to equal the manufactured ones. I do not know Sen Durbin but definitely feel sorry for him but not sorry enough to support his bill which will hopefully be defeated.

  • This guy is a fool and obviously in someone’s pocket. How he got elected is beyond me. It’s time for sweeping change in Washington.

    • Unfortunately, thanks to our Judicial system, corporations are people and thru the PAC system much is hidden. But from public info, Durbin received the following:
      From 2009-2014 a total of $5,353,911.00 Supposedly only $52,500 from the pharmaceutical industry, $11,000 from Individuals and $41,500 from PACS. But law firms and lobbyists make up an additional $750,000. These figures mean nothing to me, because Washington has no credibility, so they have ways of funnelling and hiding money.
      This has been something he has been working on for years, he just won’t let go. I wonder if a more lucrative position is waiting for him as soon as he gets his legislation passed??????

  • Michael J Dorning

    It would be interesting to know how much money…I mean campaign donations Sen. Durbin receives from Big Pharma.

  • David Atwood

    It appears very hypocritical and nonsensical to treat supplements like drugs and at the same time consider GMOs food. Bad government ignoring science as usual. Label and regulate GMOs. Leave supplements alone.

  • Ann A Schlueter

    Sen. Durbin really needs to understand the health food and supplement industry. Health foods and supplements do not use chemicals in their production, if they do, then they are violating their own laws of “food being better than drugs”, for as long as I can remember there has been someone that attempts to totally destroy the healthfood industries, vitamins, natural foods and natural cures for disease.(and there are many) Living a healthy life style is better than filling yourself full of chemicals from the medical industries.

    • Searching for answers

      You may want to consider that around 95% of all the vit C (ascorbic acid) made in the US comes from one pharmaceutical plant in Northern NJ, and is derived from gmo corn.

      It is a bit off topic from Senator Durbin’s positioning, but it does give pause.

      Slowly but surely, expect to see more smaller supplement makers bought out by big Pharma, as these giants wiggle through a very difficult time. Many blockbuster drugs are coming off patent and not many new ones are in the pipeline to take their place. The issue is they see all the profits being made by supplement makers and want a piece of the action. Can you imagine if most supplements were made from rocks (calcium), iron filings (iron fortified) or the above example of gmo-corn derived Vit C? These are currently being used to fortify processed foods, no joke!

      Meanwhile, The FDA is desperately trying to hold on to their enormous drug-approval income (80% of all proceeds?) and their numerous employees. Not much more than a giant conflict of interest?

      he real issue behind the supplement market? It has been too successful while Big Pharma sees the handwriting on their wall.


  • Charlottelayne.

    Please leave supplements along, I believe regulating like drugs will prevent availability to those, that would then have to go thru a doctor, therefore make not as available.
    Besides they are completely different.

  • Connie Tretter

    I wish that all the so called elected officials would reframe from letting the big pharms run there decision making. It is so sad to live in a country where big pharm runs a country instead of the government. If there was only a way to do away with all the lobbyists and all there money that they feed all are elected officials with this country would be so much better. They can then start making there own decisions and not worrying about if there decisions are going to piss off lobbyists such as the big pharm. If these elected officials would worry about the people they were elected to protect and serve instead of worrying about where there money for there next complain is going to come from this country just might be able to once again not be the laughing stock of the rest of the world. Connie

  • I know you won’t accuse Sen. Durbin of being in big pharma’s pocket, but that would be a good guess.

    On a different subject, I hope to see something about organic and cage free eggs soon. I heard a radio caller the other day stating that cage free eggs aren’t healthy because eggs are membranes and cage free eggs have been laying on the ground and are therefore contaminated. Nobody pointed out to this guy that eggs laid by caged hens sit in all sorts of things far worse than dirt in a pen. Just wanted to get this off my mind. Thanks for reading.

  • Lilian Nichols

    I am totally against “regulating” supplements, as I can see that the idea would be to eliminate these items which so help so many people. Also, I am sure that ‘big pharma’ wouuld like to be able to control the whole supplement industry, to the disadvantage of the American people.

    Those of us who study and learn about natural health alternatives would be adversely affected by regulation, because the politicians, and the medical profession in general, do not believe in this, and will not promote the benefits of curing and containing health issues via more natural suppliments.

    Drugs always have effects, but natural helps mostly do not. Do not subject supplements to regulation.

    • Nancy Stephens

      I take 5 different supplements ordered by doctor and
      Paid for lab work by insurance that shows deficiency .
      But insurance Does Not cover my purchase of these
      Needed Supps., so I pay myself for 5 Supps thAt doctor
      Ordered & shown to be needed. NOTE; these Supps are taken
      To help horrid side effects of RX Big PharmA paid for by insurance.
      Insurance Co. Should lobby against Supps being taken over by FDA
      & Pharma as it will cost insurance a fortune,thus more to taxpayers
      More to Govt & new Obamacare. So PharmA & FDA could make More
      Money, but insurance less to cover Supps. And taxpayers , states all pay
      More!!!! DONT take Supplements away & give to Big PharmA.
      Let PharmA realize they need to adjust to making less money,
      Congress live on their salary like everyone else. I am cutting intake
      Of horrid drugs causing bad side effects most of which are not reported
      As Greed is behind many approved drugs. As I get off most of my
      Prescriptions (not all), I feel much better along withh diet away from
      As much Bad foods and companies that make them. I believe
      Our Congress knows All this, but passes Bills out of Greed against
      Welfare of Americans they serve.

  • Cecilia

    How much was this Senator paid under the table to push for this idea from the pharmecuticle companies? Also, signed the Take Action and shared.

    • John Cobb

      You’ve got it, Cecilia! Ignorant, wacko legislation like this comes from bribes. Why don’t commentators say it like it is?? All these politicians are bribed to work against the needs of the public so that the billionaires can have an even faster flow of the country’s money into their overseas tax havens.

    • TIm Wallace

      Maybe Senator Durbin should use all of his under the table funding to pay for the RCT’s required under the Drug Indusry’s “Gold Standard” that he would like to impose on the Supplement Indusry

  • james mcenaney

    I served in viet nam as a medic,my dad in ww2 battle of bulge.do your part for freedom now!!
    we need more alternatine thinking and supplements in health not less. besy jimmy mack

    • Shenzi

      Jimmy Mack! When are ya comin’ back!?

  • It is interesting that there is a reported 1/2 million adverse reactions ‘reported’ each year for prescription medications. Some years ago when Prosac was on trial and the FDA had to release the data on prosac…for the year 2003-2004 there were some 25000 adverse event reports for that drug…further research discovered that only 1-5% of the doctors in this country actually even report adverse reactions…and a full 45% didn’t even know how to do it…as a doctor who has script privileges i want to know adverse statistics before i script any drug…but the FDA will not release these to us…and when you multiple the 1/2 million by even the minium, assuming that doctors still only report 1-5% of them…then adverse reactions are a huge number in the level of 10,000,000–at a minimum…and with my clinical experience getting people off a lot of drugs i would say that is a more accurate number…dr dave

    • The revolving door in the Congressional offices including Senator Durbin’s means that industry personnel are steering and influencing the views of the Congressmen. Senator Durbin’s Adm Healthcare Assistant was on loan from J & J for a number of years. Objectivity and concern about personal rights goes out the window when special interests can benefit. It is a crime that J&J Tylenol product which has created so many deaths in the last 50 years is still on the market. Over 50% of the liver transplants have been caused by acetaminophen which is dominated by Tylenol. FDA has moved at a snails pace to change labeling on Tylenol which will have minimal effectiveness in stopping the carnage. The truth is that it is well known in the pharmaceutical field that the allopathic medical treatment model is doomed. There is a drive to discredit nutrients to preserve the status quo. If that fails, then they want nutrients to be classified as drugs so they can become proprietary and profitable. Ask Senator Durbin why he is not demanding that the FDA remove acetaminphen from the OTC market place to save lives. So many more lives would be saved, but he wants to pick on supplements to slow the march to Integrative Medicine. Our world in DC is upside down.
      Thomas Braun RPH Founder N2E Health Education Institute
      Post Script. HIPPA was designed to obscure the truth about the real harm pharmaceuticals have caused to millions and millions of patients each year.

    • I have been a nutritional consultant for over 35 years and have helped many people get off prescription drugs. Not one client ever said they were happy to be on drugs; they all felt worried and insecure about the side effects. Once you show them the possibilities of correcting problems with natural substances, and that the laws of nature really are simple, they are amazed and grateful. And usually for one tenth the cost of drugs! It’s one of those truths people feel instinctively, all they need is guidance. I appreciate the statistics the doctor revealed, and will pass that on to my clients.

    • Linda Zigich

      How many doctors become unwitting murderers because of pharmaceutical companies? What a burden for today’s doctors to rise above being labeled Big Pharma pawns? The doctors trust they have all the information to make correct decisions on patient’s health but they are fed lies, half truths Dr. Lissa Rankin is one who wants to restore patient confidence to the medical profession and I know there are many more doctors like her. Doctors have to participate in fighting the deception. Bless you all.

    • Carol Gader

      Please don’t make our supplements hard to get. We need to keep our freedom to chose our own ways to keep healthy. Don’t make us rely on drug companies when we want to take care of our own health, and have the right to do so.

    • Marten The Canadian Libertarian

      He is nothing more or less than a mobbed up piece of self-propelled human and the front man for a bunch of thieves….Follow the money

  • Linda Zigich

    America has many problems, the biggest may be finding legislators that actually value its citizenry over the intoxication of corporation’s big bucks. Corporations and greed have removed the conscience of many of our representatives, and systemically curtailed our freedoms as well. When the focus is on supplements and not pharmaceuticals that kill over 110,000 people annually just here in the United States you should ask “why?” Why are we not targeting those corporations whose products harm us? Profit over people is your answer.

  • Jon Boatwright

    Here is a copy of a letter I was trying to leave on Senator Durbin’s website but couldn’t because I’m not an Illinois resident.

    Senator Durbin,

    It is with great concern that you continue to attack the natural health community and the community’s right to natural health by pushing nutritional supplement regulation. It brings to mind the question of why? Your approach to this issue is entirely misguided at best. You say you want every ingredient in nutritional supplements listed on the label in the event of drug interaction. Senator, prescription drugs are the number #1 killer of Americans today. Are you even paying attention. Go after the pharmaceutical companies and their killer products not natural medicine and supplements.

    What is your relationship with the pharmaceutical industry, Senator? Is this a question you will be willing to address publicly? If so I and many others request that you make a public statement affirming that you have no ties what so ever to the pharmaceutical industry neither in the form of discussions of future employment nor the exchange of any monetary contributions.

    Thank you in advance for your consideration.

    Yours truly,

    Jon Boatwright

    • Rick Baldwin

      Mail it to him & publish it wherever you can.

  • Jose_X

    I sent a letter wrt compounding and am glad that bill was improved, but, from what I read here and elsewhere, I don’t see a significant problem with the new bill, with the exception perhaps of the information on interactions with drugs depending on if and how that is implemented.

    It’s not just about safety but about efficacy. It’s understood that foods help the body. There is lots of word of mouth and unofficial material that people listen to, but people should not be buying stuff thinking that one substance will help them significantly with a problem they have when it will have negligible effect or effect only across many years and only in addition to other substances (that’s called “eating healthy”), nor should they be putting out money and not even getting the product inside that is on the label. I think there is some room for having the FDA regulate claims (truth laws) a little more and maybe adjusting penalties and other details, for example.

    I think many people want higher standards (ie, enforcement). With this law, might come more money to help improve enforcement. Specifically, if the current law doesn’t apportion specific funds for certain checks (and if the FDA doesn’t give it priority), then the law has to be changed in some way to require that.

    I do think that standards should be made more clear, although this can be addressed directly with the FDA (depends).

    As for the testing, that will generally be done by scientists (so the costs are distributed greatly) and won’t have to be repeated by individual firms if they can manufacture a quality product that would be considered similar to what was used in the studies. Unlike with custom drugs, most supplements use standard natural stuff and not thousands of variations.

    As for jobs, almost no matter what changes, jobs will be lost and others created.

  • Linda Rhodes

    Sen. Durbin needs to stay out of the supplement business and stick to politics. I know what I need for my body and research extensively on various supplements. He also needs to worry more about what some prescriptions drugs are doing to people and how many people die each year from prescribed drugs and wrongfully prescribed drugs. Doctors take 8 hours of nutrition in their 8+ years of medicine and most who do know about nutrition have studied on their own.

  • Shneor

    OK, when is Sen. Durbin up for re-election? I’m going to contribute to whoever runs against him. He’s just a tool of Big Pharma.

    • marko

      Durbin is a classic example of why term limits should be established. His days in office are numbered. We expect to see him be voted out during the 2014 midterm elections. Aside from this issue, he and his corrupt cronies have done serious damage to the State of Illinois.

    • Rick Baldwin

      I second that.

  • Marsha Andrews

    Absolutely supplements should be regulated just like drugs. It’s a dangerous situation when people can buy and take whatever supplements they choose, particularly when already taking prescription medication. Health stores are just interested in selling and people are just not well enough informed to be combining ‘natural’ supplements with drugs. I know enough to stay within the safe zone, like Vitamin C and acidophilus.
    Years also I was also shocked to learned that the natural food industry conducted research on animals, manipulating the tests to draw erroneous conclusions. The natural food industry and pharmaceuticals are just flip sides of the same coin. There is a naive trust people have just because a product is called ‘natural’. That does not mean it can’t have negative side effects. I know through experience.
    And as an aside, all foods should be labelled in detail if it contains GMO’s – everything! Again, all foods.

    • Greg Lumsden

      Well from my experience I disagree with people not being able to buy supplements, reason is doctors only understand what drugs do and not what they interact with, most people that take supplements have to do the doctors job for them, myself include, as pretty much all doctors say is don’t take them, well if I hadn’t done my research and acted years ago, I would be mentally numb or dead by now thanks to the side effects of drugs, or maybe committed suicide from the side effects

      In my opinion the only people that shouldn’t sell supplements are chemists, they are the ones that don’t understand, because their job is selling prescription drugs, plus the ones they stock are poor quality, your being conned by them.

    • KAren McCormick

      You must have read one of those mass media supplement fright articles. Do my test. See the truth for yourself.

    • Emily

      Senator Durban in that picture looks as if he needs quite a few supplements.
      There’s a war against good eating and good health in this country, the U.S. I see Big Pharma has actually invested some of its billions in trolls who are literate. That is quite a feat. I hope you are well paid.

    • Henry Schwartzman

      Durbin has made himself the enemy by perpetrating this blatant disregard for our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Whoever goes along with it does likewise.

    • Eric

      Since drugs aren’t really regulated and it’s all just a sham, this is really an attempt to eliminate liberty to improve one’s health. Vioxx killed 50,000 people by the estimates I’ve seen. Remember, legislation is never done to protect people. It’s only done to protect corporations. It will continue to be that way until campaign reform is done with an amendment to the Constitution.

    • John


      Do you think the FDA is a trustworthy source of regulation? I believe it was an issue of JAMA in 2011 which studied the FDA’s ability to insure safety, and found that in a previous year over 100,000 people died from properly taken, properly prescribed FDA approved medications. I’m not sure, but I don’t believe there were more than one or two deaths associated with supplements in the same year, and these incidents, as in the past, are unclear re: causality. Rather than the conflict of interests that drive the behavior of FDA and Big Pharma, leaving us with little trust in what they say, we need more competition among research institutions that compete for NIH funding so that we have accessible data that can be trusted. Just having the Federal Government create more oversight doesn’t necessarily increase the public’s safety. And regulation by the FDA doesn’t insure the public will be better educated, which most any physician will tell you off the record about their caution in dealing with the drug company sales reps that crowd their waiting rooms almost daily. What is that telling us when physicians themselves have such a trust issue?

      More education is the path to improved safety, and this is already born out in the very few fatal or harmful incidents reported for supplement use. IOW, the more regulation we have from the top down, the poorer the dissemination of good information is available at the bottom. By supporting the FDA in their financial game, you aren’t supporting the safety of citizens, but increasing their vulnerability to a system that has already shown its true colors. You might look at the PBS Frontline Piece from about ten years ago, entitled something like “Is the FDA dangerous to your health?” I can’t find the video on their website anymore, but the transcripts of former FDA researchers are available, and are quite revealing. FDA regulation doesn’t protect us, since the risk of deaths of patients doesn’t appear to be a serious obstacle in driving its products to market. Would you trust this same institution in educating you?

      If you do an Amazon search under “herb drug interactions,” you’ll find several books written by physicians providing the information you are concerned with, without the apparent conflict of interest.

    • mat

      Sounds like you are another big government control freak on the drug lobby payroll to me. Durbin’s FDA scam won’t fly well with the voters, most of which are moms and do most of the shopping!

    • John Wayne

      Please provide proof of your claims.

      The truth is that supplements cure and battle illness far better than any drug ever will. They do this by providing a natural defense to fight against the agents that cause illness in the first place.

      Live your life the way you want and stop trying to force others to your corrupt and misinformed idealism. I take supplements regularly for the last 20 years and I have not been to one doctor or taken any drug from them in this time. I’m 41 and am in better shape than most kids in their 20’s, I don’t have a single gray hair or hardly even a wrinkle. I have not been to a dentist in about 25 years and I have not had a single cavity or tooth problem that was not first created by a dentist.

      Now, research the term iatrogenics and you will find that drug and doctor related deaths are approximately 1,000,000 per year. This makes the pharma companies the leading cause of death in the US by 50% more than the next leading cause of death in the US and, that is tobacco. Why don’t they regulate tobacco? …something to think about.

    • “Health stores are just interested in selling” {Q: What are drug companies interested in?}
      Q: References for the animal testing and falsifying of data by the supplement industry would be enlightening by all. Thank you!
      Q: Have FDA-regulated drug companies ever been caught falsifying data or witholding negative outcomes? Thank you for your references. Much appreciated by all.
      Q: “Safe Zones”: Could you expand on that? Just Vit C and Lactobacillus? No Bifidus? Nothing else fits into the “safe zone”. Do you have any documentation that this is, truly, the “safe zone”? Thank you so much for sharing for the benefit of us all. God bless.

    • Chris

      Come on! You want to have to visit a doctor or talk to a pharmacist in order to get vitamin C. Seriously?

    • Melissa

      Supplements, herbs and minerals are NOT DRIGS. They are high concentration of foods. They are natural and non-toxic. Drugs are synthetic and cannot be broken down and assimilated by the body. Most
      of them are petroleum based, toxic and store in the liver. They are toxic to the body and create
      long term damage to people’s health. You are colluding with America’s allopathic disease-death
      model. If there are reactions when people take supplements and drugs- you should be looking at the
      DRUGS involved not the supplements.

      You need to hire a fact checker. People DIE from pharmaceutical products on a daily basis, and
      experience permanent long term physical and emotional damages from side effects from drugs and surgeries. The government has no constitutional authority to regulate supplements as if they were drugs.
      Please stop the uninformed hysteria and give people real documented information, which you clearly
      do not have. The murderous pharmaceutical industry, its’ lobbyists and the politicians it has in it’s pockets
      like Waxman and Durbin are the problem. You have no legal or moral authority to tell which supplements
      I can take,

    • This is obviously crazy. Supplements need to be regulated. I actually have a blog where I give my own reviews on different supplements and talk about how they work along with the benefits and the negatives.
      Check it out!

    • Heather C.

      There is a certain amount of personal responsibility over one’s life that is expected here. The government should not expect to be our babysitter. If one doesn’t know enough about prescription drugs or nutritional supplements, then it is their responsibility to either stop taking them or EDUCATE THEMSELVES. There is a wealth of information that has been published about herbs, spices, minerals and other nutritional supplements. The internet alone is a gold mine of information. In addition there are many natural health practitioners who would love to offer information and advice about how supplements can be integrated into one’s life. If you are suggesting that people should not be allowed to supplement their diets because they don’t know enough, then the solution is not to prevent them from supplementing, but to educate them or expect them to educate themselves. Personal responsibility is a dying art! Regulating nutritional supplements as suggested would restrict or cut off access to vital nutrients that many people use to heal themselves of disorders and diseases such as depression, anxiety, diabetes and cancer. Yes! People have healed themselves of cancer using nutritional supplements! The government has NO BUSINESS preventing consumers from taking nutritional supplements as they deem necessary and appropriate.

    • mrhjdez

      That coin says lies on one side is truth on the other. I take the truth of people using a herbal for 2 – 3 thousand years over FDA approval. I have used and tested over 70 vitamins, minerals, herbals and supplements, never needed or took a prescription drug. Never seen a doctor for an illness or ailment. At 82, do I hve to say more.

  • Shan

    I totally agree with Merle Pieterae – I’m also 69, take NO prescription drugs and look (and act) much younger! Natural supplements are my lifeline and I do NOT want to be deprived of my right to take what I feel is best for me!

  • Mo Sandel

    “The rights of individual citizens to choose and manage their own health and nutrition matters must be EXPANDED NOT RESTRICTED! Senator Durbin’s idea is a VERY BAD ONE! Please oppose the Dietary Supplement Labeling Act!” -Mo Sandel

  • KAren McCormick

    Durbins constituents are Wall Street. He makes no pretense of doing anything but supporting their agenda. The truth is, reputable supplements are already manufactured by pharma standards, in clean, safe facilities. Wondering what the truth is? Do an inventory. Ask your friends, associates and family members what physical ailments they suffer from. What makes them miserable. Then ask them what pharmaceuticqal drugs they take. Keep a list. The sickest, most miserable people you know will be the people taking the most drugs.

  • Charla Shamhart

    The precautionary principle should NOT be applied to supplements and herbs until it is equally implemented with ALL agricultural chemicals and ALL pharmaceutical drugs. and ALL processes to which food is subjected.

  • Steven Tupper

    I know most of the people on here (including the people running this website) are reflexively anti-science and anti-regulation, but does anybody actually care that NOBODY is checking to see if what’s on the label of that bottle of alleged ginkgo isn’t actually lawn clippings? Or something that might actually make you sick(er)? Or that completely imaginary claims are made for your pricey bottle of lawn clippings?

    Well, a group of university plant geneticists (with no corporate funding) actually did check by looking at the DNA of the plant material being marketed to us as herbal products, and look what they found:


    We used to have a functioning FDA that protected us from scammers, fraudsters and greedy corporations (anybody remember Thalidomide? if not, look it up!), but that was decades ago, before the mad hatters in Congress cut its budget to where it was forced to literally sell itself to those same greedy corporations to survive at all. Maybe I’m just getting old and cranky, but frankly I’m not enjoying this return to 19th century snake oil salesmen, and intend to simply not purchase this stuff until we get real inspection and real regulation again, and recommend that others do likewise.

    • mrhjdez

      All the worst supplements do not come close to killing 100,000 People every year. This bill is just a Trojan Horse to allow the camels nose under tent flap.

    • I get it. There are very few companies I trust and I am basically all supplementation, no prescription drugs. I have witnessed many companies lose credibility with consumers because I am in the shopping arena and check carefully for some reason to hav faith in herbal supplements and dietary supplements.

    • Tim Hart

      At any place in this study did you list the brands that you tested? (I couldn’t find such a list). Were the brands that you tested supposed to be cGMP manufacturers? Were the brands that you tested quality audited by any third party companies, eg. QAI? Were the brands that you tested known as reputable brands? Do the people in your firm who choose the products know the difference?

      I apologize if my questions are answered in the study. I looked it over, but I did not see this information. Yes, there are untrustworthy brands out there that I would not be comfortable buying. But there are many more highly reputable ones.

  • Timothy


    Dicks Donors 2005 – 2010:
    Lobbyists $395,087
    Health Professionals $323,734
    Pharmaceuticals/Health Products $114,600

    I bet the lobbyists = American Medical Association(AMA).

  • James Peters

    Nutritional supplements by themselves cause negligible hazards or side effects (or none) when used according to recommendations or common sense. The same is not true of prescription or non-prescription drugs, which are commonly harmful or unhealthful in any amount and their use presumes that sacrifice for the desired effect. If drugs cause further hazards when mixed with certain foods or supplements, the labels of those drugs should show the warnings. To force the manufacturers of otherwise harmless foods or supplements to take responsibility for the possible hazards of multitudes of drugs when added to nutrition is an abuse and a tyranny.

  • Dear Senator Durbin, please eat lots of GMO foods. SOON.


    Get rid of Durbin take him out of Senate!!!

    • Susan Faith Rubin

      Durbin is clearly working for BIG PHARMA and not the people he is supposed to represent.

  • jo

    I agree with all of your comments. I have been using natural supplements for many years. I will be 87 years young this month. While using all natural supplements, I have overcome many problems that prescription drugs only aggravated. If our elected officials would solve some of our real problems, like our national debt and perhaps regulate big pharma on some of the manufactured chemicals that are killing innocent people. God didn’t create pill bottles He gave us many plants to heal and/or supplement our daily foods. The many vitamins and minerals in our supplements are taken from all of the wonderful plants and sea life to balance what our bodies need for a healthy life. Perhaps they may need to concentrate on the poisons that growers use to control insects particularly many fruits and vegetables from other countries that are not organic. How healthy are they? How strictly are they regulated? To all of our elected officials, leave our supplements alone. Our elected officials have all kinds of benefits. Re: Better health insurance, lifetime benefits even for serving one term. Isn’t that enough without supporting constituents to get their selfish and damaging bills passed?

    • Shawn Sargent

      Jo is 10000% right. Natural Food is our Medicine, and Senator Durbin wants to take that away from us. He must be the Biggest Big Pharma, lap dog that I have ever heard of.
      He should read Aristotle. There is a particle quote from him ” Let food be thy medicine “.
      Senator Durbin; quite simply doesn’t have the education, and/ or the scientific background, or any qualifications to be making decisions concerning natural supplements.
      Please make a call as soon as possible to your representatives, to tell Mr. Durbin, to stop trying to take away the supplements, that Millins of Americans depend upon.
      Kill S.1424 ( the Labeling Act), once and for all.
      For over 7 years, Mr. Durbin keeps trying to negatively affect the health and well being of millions of Americans, be resubmitting this horrible bill.
      It is high time that this bill, never again sees the light of day.

    • jen

      just to be clear, it’s not true that congressional members get better health insurance or lifetime benefits “even for serving one term.” http://www.snopes.com/politics/medical/28thamendment.asp

      the rest of the points are well taken. go after Monsanto and leave the vitamin industry alone.

    • Bob

      Jo, right on! That’s pretty much what I was thinking.

    • John

      We have a basic problem that most vitamin manufacturers use pharmaceutical companies to make their products! Just like drug companies asking the FDA to increase prices to them for speeding products through the approval process has eliminated the little guys, drug companies realize if vitamins require more restrictions and costs, it’s a huge advantage for them and helps eliminate the competition by those that are not using pharmaceutical companies to make their products!

      Always follow the money and you will see where people like this senator is getting his bread buttered!

  • T. W

    The FDA is a corrupt, treasonous organization.

  • I read the BMC Medicine report and this is what I found. Basically, they are developing a test for DNA barcoding that supplement companies can use to prove ingredients are exactly what they claim, no contamination, fillers, substitutions and the code would check for what are considered poisonous ingredients. That said, many cancer – immune system supplements are indeed considered poisonous. And that is where we lose products that can save lives.

    “Currently there are no standards for authentication of herbal products. Although there is considerable evidence of the health benefits of herbal medicine [53,58-66], the industry suffers from unethical activities by some of the manufacturers, which includes false advertising, product substitution, contamination and use of fillers. This practice constitutes not only food fraud, but according to the WHO, serious health risks for consumers [67]. A study of health claims made by herbal product manufacturers on the internet found that 55% of manufacturers illegally claimed to treat, prevent, diagnose or cure specific diseases [68]. Regulators such as the FDA and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) may not have the resources to adequately monitor the dietary supplement manufacturers and their advertising claims, and there are concerns that the current regulatory system is not effective in protecting consumers from the risks associated with certain herbal products [69,70]. Chemical research studies have documented poor quality control and high content variability of active ingredients among products from a variety of manufacturers of herbal supplements [71,72]. This is partly because herbs contain complicated mixtures of organic chemicals, the levels of which may vary substantially depending upon many factors related to the growth, production and processing of each specific herbal product [73]. Although many manufacturers provide products with consistent levels of active ingredients through a process known as chemical standardization, this technique has uncertain effects on the safety and efficacy of the final product [71,74,75]. Many of the dangers of commercial plant medicine have been brought to light by DNA technology based studies that have identified contamination of herbal products with poisonous plants [70]. Eroding consumer confidence is driving the demand for a product authentication service that utilizes molecular biotechnology. One approach to vetting herbal product substitution and contamination is…

  • Shneor Sherman

    I urge all concerned to write letters to the editors of Illiinois newspapers, like the Chicago Tribune. Senator Durbin is up for re-election in 2014. I plan to contribute to whoever runs against him, and I plan to write letters. The more who join in this, the better the chances that Senator Durbin will retract his proposed bill, and refrain from reintroducing such legislation. What I fear is that his bill will be attached to some “must pass” legislation; since he is Assistant Majority Leader, this is a distinct possibility.

  • Robert Cruder

    The enemy is unspecified or unreliable product content. Sen. Durbin did not set out to outlaw dietary supplements but considers that the lesser of evils.

    Many of us have relied on product testimonials or opinions from unqualified sources. How much of that “personal experience” has been fabricated by the supplement producers or distributors?

    Mainstream medicine primarily complains about the unreliable content.

    Paul A. Offit, MD reports that “On July 29 of this year, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, to my knowledge, became the first hospital in this country to remove dietary supplements from the formulary. We did that because we were caught between a rock and a hard place. The rock was the Joint Commission of Hospital Accreditation, which asks us to treat these products like drugs. Fair enough. They are drugs. They could have a pharmacologic and physiologic effect that is drug-like, so I think that is a very fair request on their part. On the other hand, the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate these products as drugs, so for the 54,000 dietary supplements on the market, there isn’t a very good safety profile. Probably fewer than 0.3% of those products have any reasonable safety portfolio. Their efficacy claims are often not true. What is worrisome is that the labeling may not be accurate and that, for example, a selenium product, which is said to contain 200 µg of selenium, may in fact contain 40,800 µg as was recently shown with a couple of products.”

    I propose that the FDA eliminate SWAT raids and product confiscations in favor of a no-exceptions statement of content. The Senator might well be satisfied with that.

    If the statement is intentionally false or if the producer allows manufacturing practices that could not achieve the specified content then the decision maker goes to jail for some minimum term and cannot buy his way out with a monetary fine.

    That lets us research the substances, dosages, side-effects etc. Anyone unwilling or unable to do that research should stick to one-a-day.

  • Laura

    Wake up people. Prescription drugs are TOXIC and DEADLY! They suppress the disease, destroy the immune system and cause other problems so you have to take more drugs! Supplements do the opposite and cause longevity of life without putting money in big pharma’s pockets.

    That’s the SOLE reason for DICK’s bill.



      • PEG WRIGHT