Senator Durbin’s Credibility Problem


supplements-banThe Washington Times recently printed an opinion piece discussing the threat nutritional supplements are facing from the FDA and Sen. Durbin’s bill. The senator’s response makes one wonder if he has read his own bill. A follow-up to our Action Alert.

Durbin says he introduced the bill in response to “a product on the market now that is escaping regulation as an adulterated food by marketing itself as a ‘dietary supplement.’” This refers to the melatonin-laced brownies sold as Lazy Cakes we’ve been telling you about (melatonin is a natural hormone that puts us to sleep). But the FDA has in fact moved against Lazy Cakes and quite appropriately shut them down. The agency could have done this from the start. It always had the authority to do so, as Durbin surely knows. Why did it wait so long? Perhaps to support Durbin’s bill, or to avoid revealing how misleading the senator’s arguments are?

Note also that of the bill’s eight pages, only two sentences address food companies like the one that made Lazy Cakes. Almost all of the bill is aimed at nutritional supplements.

The senator’s credibility problem doesn’t stop there. He says that his bill is designed to stop “mislabeling products and making health claims that have no scientific basis” and “marketing supplements with impure or incorrectly identified ingredients.” If that’s the case, he would be pleased to know that all those things are already against the law! That’s right: everything he mentioned is already prohibited under current law. Of course, the senator knows that perfectly well.

Since the purpose of this bill is clearly not the one stated, what is the purpose? It would seem to be an attempt to move us one step closer to a full FDA approval system for supplements. That, of course, would just make supplements insanely expensive, like drugs, if you could get them at all. If supplements are not yanked from the market, or turned into drugs, the high prices would kill demand and drive supplement companies out of business. The drug industry would be waiting, ready to pick up the pieces and make their current monopoly position even tighter. That’s why our Action Alert is so important—if you haven’t already done so, please take action now!

Under Durbin’s bill, the FDA would not be the sole evaluator of supplements. It would be assisted by the government’s Institute of Medicine. Perhaps this is supposed to satisfy critics of the FDA. But it doesn’t make the proposal any better. This is the same Institute of Medicine whose recent reevaluation of vitamin D doses has been ridiculed by scientists actually expert about vitamin D. Even conventional medical societies such as the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists criticized the Institute’s work.

Here’s an example of the IOM’s logic. It recommended 600 IU of D for a pregnant woman. It then said that the moment the baby is born, it should have 400 IU while the mother continues to need 600 IU. On the face of it, this makes no sense at all. The IOM committee was also apparently about to restate the safe upper intake level of D well above the previous 2,000 IU per day. Then just before publication and for no apparent reason—certainly no reason based on science—it reversed course and pulled a meager 4,000 IU out of thin air as the new upper limit. Scientists such as John Cannell, MD, who have really studied D, suggest that 4,000 IU would be a more reasonable recommended daily allowance, not an upper limit.

Don’t forget that the FDA in 1972 tried to ban any supplement dose higher than 400 IU unless taken under a doctor’s prescription. What both the FDA and the Institute of Medicine have in common is that both agencies know very little about supplements but are nevertheless deeply biased against them. In the FDA’s case, this may be because of all the fees that the agency gets from drug companies. Or because many of the agency’s outside panelists are paid by drug companies. In the IOM’s case, many of its experts of course also receive fees from drug companies. Yet these are the people whom Senator Durbin wants to give completely arbitrary power over supplements!

For example, under the senator’s bill, the FDA could require warnings on supplement labels of any length that would say anything the government wants, no matter how unreasonable. It would create lists of “bad” ingredients or “bad” dosages based on completely arbitrary or nonexistent standards. Whatever the FDA says would go. And once an ingredient or supplement is singled out for this treatment, there is no process to challenge the determination, not even if new or contradictory evidence comes to light. This is really bad legislation.

Assuming that Sen. Durbin is sincere—and we assume he is, despite his misleading arguments—he should create a new federal agency to be in charge of supplements. That would at least begin to make possible sensible federal oversight of the supplement industry.

Michelle Minton, who works at the prestigious Competitive Enterprise Institute, got it exactly right in her July 28 article, “The Coming War on Vitamins.” Sen. Durbin’s Dietary Supplement Labeling Act (S. 1310) is part of a one-two punch aimed at eventually pulling supplements into the current and completely dysfunctional drug approval regime.

The second part of this one-two punch is the equally insidious proposed FDA New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) guidance, which applies to supplements created after 1994. Was it a coincidence that the bill and the proposed new standards rolled out at the same moment? Was the idea that if one was shot down, the other might get through? We don’t know. We do know that the American people need to know what is actually in the bill and the guidance, both of which are cloaked in obscure bureaucratic legalese intended to mask their true purposes.

It is past time for a return to honesty and openness in American politics. Sen. Durbin could start by abandoning the falsehood that his bill has anything to do with tainted brownies that have already been removed from the market.

If you have not already done so, please write to your senators and representatives immediately and ask them to oppose Sen. Durbin’s Dietary Supplement Labeling Act. Please take action now!

  • ronnie j. garner

    Sen. Durbin is a good example of “Stupid is as stupid does”

    • T

      I couldn’t have said it better.

  • David Myhre

    The federal gvernment already has regulatory laws to safeguard Americans from every substantive risk posed by nutrients and nutriceuticals. Sen Durbin’s bill is totally unecessary. Please instruct the FDA to use its enforcement tools to keep unsafe products off the market and kill Sen Durbin’s bill which REALLY is intended to classify all nutrients as drugs so the drug companies can make even more obscene profits than they already do and make Americans pay more.

    Please stop “protecting” us from imaginary risks, and stop handing profits to the perps that fund your campaigns. That is corruption. We are sick of it.

    CON gress, the opposite of PROgress.

  • You must be out of your mind! “create a new federal agency”? Why is it that so many people look to this government to validate everything for them? Let’s make government bigger!! That’s your suggestion?? Idiotic!!

    Also, let’s call the FDA exactly what it is. Monsanto’s governmental military arm of their public company. That statement is accurate.

    I’d rather see a campaign to end the FDA, er, excuse me, end Monsanto’s strangle-hold on what the world can do with their own bodies.

    I singed your letter to my State Reps because we should attack this at every angle but to advocate yet another government agency that will no-doubt be run by yet another appointed sycophant of the US puppet rulers is ludicrous

    by the way, I don’t donate to any company that I cannot contact directly. I found no contact information within.

  • Matthew Smola

    Big pharmaceutical lobbyists are on their way to getting this Durbin bill passed. I believe the only way to get the attention of any of our lawmakers is to tell them directly that you will not vote for them again and campaign against them if they vote yes on this bill. We all need to start taking personal responsibility stand up against this tyranny. We also need to push our will on to our politicians that are looking out for their best interest, which always seems to have something to do with money!, If it’s for family, friends, or any other interests our politicians may have.

  • ronnie j. garner

    Stupid is as stupid does

  • dave h

    this one of the worst bills ever sen durbin should be voted out of office if this bill passes so should everyone who votes for this fraud of a bill

  • tekwyzrd

    I wish they’d go after the bad prescription drugs that were approved based on fraudulent, edited, or faulty studies. They kill many more people than dietary supplements.

  • Patrice Wells

    Leave nutritional supplements alone- allow us to use nutritional supplements,. vitamins and minerals.

  • fallingman

    Durbin is sincere…right. Kinda like Mussolini was sincere.

    A new federal agency in charge of supplements. There’s a splendid idea…NOT.

    How about we pester the livin’ bejezus out of Congress and insist that they keep the FDA’s bloodstained fingers off our supplements now and forever? How about we form a human ring around the FDA’s headquarters and refuse to leave even if they beat us about the head and shoulders and arrest us? How about we all put bumper stickers on our cars that say Stop The Federal Death Administration? How about we just move to another country and simply acknowledge that the fascists have us under their thumbs and it’s too late to do very much about it?

    Just some ideas. Take your pick.

  • Geraldine Wadia

    Kinly oppose sen. Durbin’s Dietary Supplement Labeling Act.

  • AZgirl7

    PLEASE don’t make me shiver by suggesting the inept and thoroughly corrupt government create a new agency to regulate supplements!!! We all know full well that everything is just fine as it is!! The government needs NO MORE CONTROL over our choices and lives. It’s the mislabeling of their own legislation, laws, and intentions that need to be regulated!!! I find it very coincidental that with each new draconian bill that comes up for a vote seems to be preceeded by a tainted food event! Let’s have them compare the death and damage stats from supplements, vs.the illness, pain and death caused by Big Pharma prescriptions and factory farmed, mass produced foods. They just need to get OFF OUR BACKS!! PERIOD!

  • AZgirl7

    I CAN’T write to my own “Reps” since it was John McCain’s disgusting attempt, S 3002, to take supplements away (it flopped) that was probably handed off to Durbin with a few little changes, albiet with the same end result. They just won’t stop, will they? Honest to God fellow citizens….are you ready yet, to be rid of these traitors of the American people?? Why don’t they just resign and go work for the pharmacuetical companies directly?

    • jennifer


  • Animals don’t need to be drugged!

  • Shane

    This bill must be stopped. Americans are smart enough to know what products are good for them and what are not. Stop treating us like children.

  • Elizabeth Butler

    The big pharma companies want to shut down the supplements that keep us healthy so we don’t need their overpriced killer pills. Then they want to sell those same supplements to us at greatly inflated prices. One must wonder if Sen. Durbin gets any campaign contributions from big pharma companies.

  • Karen Williams

    Durbin’s bill appears to me to be a distraction & just “busy work” rather than Congress actually putting their heads together to deal with our country’s REAL problems, like the debt! Just what we need — more government interference! The FDA already has the authority to do virtually anything it wants to (not necessarily all to our benefit); it doesn’t need another bill to restate it — & design with a specific purpose. Kill this bill!

  • 1776Again

    You are being too gracioous concerning Durbin’s motves. Don’t forget that he’s from the home of the Daley Machine, you pay to play. Just like the S510 Farm Safety Farce, he will be paid an enormous sum to get it passed by Big PHARMA’S lobbyists; so would have John McCain if his version of the supplement bill had been passed. He needed the money, got paid but bill was passed on to three more versions before this one. This is all about getting Codex directives put through by FDA !

  • lone voice

    “Assuming that Sen. Durbin is sincere—and we assume he is, despite his misleading arguments—he should create a new federal agency to be in charge of supplements. That would at least begin to make possible sensible federal oversight of the supplement industry.”

    Whoa, back up!
    ANH, I agreed with every word you wrote, before this paragraph. But I have to react with raised eyebrows to the above statement.

    HUH? The Feds should create another agency to —you said it very well—-“be in charge of supplements” ?

    Be in charge….that’s right. This is a dictatorship, not a free country. Let’s face it. Haven’t we seen that written all over the wall? What’s this business —-business—-of granting corporations the voice of indiividuals? What about the FDA’s crackdowns on the supplement industry—-to favor bigger, fatter and more selfish ones? At cost to human wellbeing and freedom of choice?

    Why on earth would another government entity be any more effective than the FDA? (I do not support the FDA’s involvement in the food and supplement regulation business, not even one bit. I repeat the word: Business).

    What we need, ANH, is less regulation and not more of it. To play musical chairs is only to play one more game of charades.

    Can you please explain your thinking to us in your above statement? This strikes me as being at odds with all that, up until this very moment, I have always perceived you to be. Thank you for your open-book response and for your clarification. Sometimes impressions can be wrong, and when they are, they need to be corrected. I will look forward to your posted response, here. Thank you for all that you do, I have been following (and forwarding) your articles, with keen interest and appreciation for your brave and ethical work.

  • lone voice

    The Government Of the Corporations, By The Corporations, and For the Corporations was never penned into law by our founding fathers.

    Please tell your Senators and Representatives, and post this statement to blogs everywhere! Thanks.

  • lone voice

    One more ps:

    I think we will gain much more mileage if we….

    Take matters into our own hands and write to the newspaper editors, post to blogs, etc the researched facts, comparing deaths and illnesses from tainted food to that of Big Pharma and its so-called “side effects”.

    We need to tell our Congress members that we pay them. Remind them, in public, in writing that is openly read by all!

    Remind them that they took an oath of office to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution. This has nothing,,,zero… do with The Government Of the Corporations, By the Corporations and For the Corporations. Instead, it has everything to do with protecting, defending and upholding the Government Of the People, By the People and For the People.

    Therefore, we ourselves are remiss in asking our Reps and Senators what *their* position is about any given matter.

    Instead, we should be reminding them that they are duty-bound to represent and implement the will of Us, the People.

    If not, then they need to be fired.

    We can use our pens to peacefullly and legally help to get them unseated from public office. And we can ask others to do the same. Further, we can support new Candidates and get good people voted in.

    It’s time….

  • Gene Semon

    Thanks ANH-USA for a job well done on this critical issue.

    If the worst does come to pass, I intend to say goodbye to America.

    Meanwhile we keep swinging …

  • Why are we becoming so communistic in the USA! Us Americans Deserve to have some rights!!Your making the world abusive,anxiety,corrupt!!! Let us have some little enjoyment please!Where would you be without us?Your spending on vacations with no Conscious.Have empathy ethics compassion out of this equation? Pissed off! People want to leave the USA and go to foreign places just to get the hell out of here!!Than what happens??

  • A. Werewulff

    It would be good to see the thumbs up or down count, however it doesn’t seem to work here… just sayin’.. what say you ANH?

    “Some say to survive you need to be as mad as a hatter… which luckily, I am.” ~Johnny Depp. Tim Burton’s Alice in wonderland. The Mad Hatter.

  • I have been cured of heart disease and my heart doctor is amazed. The supplement was Cardio plus from Health Alert that uses Standard Process Supplement. I have also bee cured of Eczema using sesame oil and Betafood made by Standard Process. My skin specialist did not have a clue about the disease and kept giving me different steroid salves that only contained the itching. If this bill goes through, I hope that I will not died to the lack of proper holistic treatment.