Senators seek new supplement regulations

Michael Johnsen

Former presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., last month introduced a bill—the Dietary Supplement Act of 2010—that would place greater restrictions on the supplement industry. McCain pointed to the current steroid stigma attached to Major League Baseball and other professional sports as one impetus behind the new bill.

The crux of the issue from an industry perspective: Why impose additional regulation and administrative costs on law-abiding supplement manufacturers when the current regulations have never really been proven as either adequate or inadequate?

Both politicians and supplement manufacturers appear to be hovering around the same goal: remove nefarious players who are tainting the supplement industry from general distribution. The difference? Several Congress leaders have suggested that the Food and Drug Administration lacks enforcement teeth, while association members charge that the FDA needs to use the teeth it already has after gumming supplement regulations for more than a decade.

At issue are what the industry considers redundant requirements that dietary supplement manufacturers must register with the FDA as well as fully disclose all ingredients in their products. Arming the FDA with mandatory recall authority if a product is found to be “unsafe” or “harmful” is also considered redundant, especially considering the FDA effectively pulled the supplement ephedra off the market in 2004.

The trade associations representing dietary supplement manufacturers long have opposed any tinkering with the Dietary Supplement Health and Regulation Act of 1994. “CRN looks forward to the opportunity to study the legislation and find common ground with the sponsors and supporters of this legislation,” stated Steve Mister, Council for Responsible Nutrition president and CEO.

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