Update: Senator McCain Cosponsors a New Bill That Threatens Your Access to Supplements and Repeals Key Sections of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education ActFebruary 9, 2010
A wide variety of organizations, working together with ANH-USA, have swung into action to stop John McCain’s new bill that threatens dietary supplements. Already thousands of messages are on their way to Capitol Hill in protest. Please be sure that your message is among them. If you have not already done so, please take action now.
As we told you last week, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) have cosponsored a new bill misleadingly called The Dietary Supplement Safety Act (DSSA). DSSA would repeal key sections of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), signed into law by then-President Clinton.
DSHEA protects supplements 1) if they are food products that have been in the food supply and not chemically altered or 2) if they were sold as supplements prior to 1994, the year that DSHEA was passed. If a supplement fits one of these two descriptions, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cannot arbitrarily ban it or reclassify it as a drug. DSHEA provides the framework for effective regulation of dietary supplements by the FDA.
The Dietary Supplement Safety Act (DSSA) would eliminate the supplement protections contained in DSHEA and allow the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) arbitrary authority to draw up a list of what supplements can be sold and at what potency levels. Europe is currently limiting both supplements and potencies to ridiculous levels. If DSSA passes, the FDA, beholden as it is to drug interests, would move to do the same in the US.
The purported emergency giving rise to DSSA is illegal steroid use by athletes. The bill is supported by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) which is funded by major league sports teams including baseball, football and others. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig has urged its adoption. In his comments, Senator McCain cited six NFL players recently suspended for testing positive for banned substances and allegedly exposed to these substances through dietary supplements.
The FDA currently has complete and total authority to address illegal steroids and, more broadly, to regulate dietary supplements. If the FDA were policing rogue products adulterated with steroids as current law requires, the NFL violations would not have happened.
DSSA also requires the reporting of even minor adverse events related to supplements. This is in addition to the already existing requirement to report serious adverse events. This will further stack the deck against small supplement companies by creating new, unnecessary, even more cumbersome, and of course very expensive administrative hurdles.
It will also give the FDA, which ignores very large numbers of serious adverse reports involving drugs, including many deaths, more ammunition to use in its capricious war against food supplements.
The likely result: the consolidation of the supplement industry into a few big companies selling many fewer supplements at much lower doses. These large companies would also very likely be owned by drug companies.
The bottom line: our health would be almost completely controlled by the FDA and drug companies.
Natural Products Association executive director John Gay has issued the following statement in response to Senator McCain’s proposed legislation: “Our industry has long supported efforts to remove the relatively few bad actors who market adulterated products. We have advocated for additional enforcement funds for regulators, and for giving regulators additional authority to act. What we cannot support is wholesale changes to a regulatory structure that is working, and could work better if the measures we have supported were adopted. A series of new laws for criminals to ignore is not the answer. Some seek to paint with an awfully broad brush. For example, the idea that the 150 million Americans who use dietary supplements are gambling with their health by shopping at mainstream stores just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Hyperbole does not lead to sound policy.”
Council for Responsible Nutrition president Steven Mister offers his comment as well: “Dietary supplements have a very strong safety profile and consumers should continue to feel confident in the supplements that they are taking.”
Senator McCain’s proposed legislation highlights the mindset at the FDA, dubbed the Fear and Denial Administration by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA). The FDA, which is responsible for guarding the health of American citizens, is hostile to the kind of natural medicine—based on lifestyle choices, nutrition, dietary supplements, and exercise—that is both effective and sustainable.
Senator McCain appears to have been naïvely sold a bill of goods from vested interests. It is clear he does not know that he is being used by these interests in opposition to the wishes of tens of millions of Americans who supplement wisely to maintain optimal health. If you have not done so already, please take action now or read more about The Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010.