FDA and Senator Attack Dietary Supplements

The FDA and Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) are proposing regulations on dietary supplements that not only will increase the cost of over the counter diet pills but limit what is available on the market. While these regulations proclaim to be protecting consumers from dangerous ingredients, what it really would do is deny people an affordable solution of dietary supplements that many have taken for years without any problems.

Despite its innocent designation, the bill would compel an enormous reclassification of dietary supplements to be under the thumb of the Food and Drug Administration. Durbin’s bill was made public on the same day the FDA issued proposed new guidelines that would alter the way the agency approves and polices vitamins and dietary supplements. The biggest obstacle many people would face is that it would take away from individuals the right to make their own decisions about their healthcare.

The combination of the two anti-supplement initiatives would force natural health manufacturers to submit to expensive government testing, adopt new labeling, and compete for market share with well-funded pharmaceutical makers who already have long-standing and mutually lucrative relationships with the FDA, health industry insiders say. Popular supplements now being sold without government interference would be removed from shelves, in some cases for years, pending FDA tests and approval. The cost of all dietary supplements would likely spike as a result of the additional regulatory burden.

Under existing law, the FDA already has enough authority to ensure supplement safety, said Sen. Hatch. “In fact, several former FDA commissioners have said that the agency already has the appropriate and sufficient level of oversight of this industry,” he said. Sen. Durbin claims his bill is aimed specifically at the gray area of food and drink products that pose risks or make questionable claims based on dietary supplement ingredients. The issue gained traction in the wake of a number of hospitalizations of children who ate pastries laced with the sleep-aid supplement melatonin. The foods are marketed under the names Lazy Cakes, Kush Cakes, and Lulla Pies.

The Durbin bill is now before the Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. The HELP committee is chaired by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, a well-known advocate for natural health supplements. Insiders hope Harkin’s influence along with other HELP members known to support the supplements industry, including Sen. Hatch, will result in the death of the proposal.

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