Have you ever taken echinacea, vitamin C, astragalus, chlorophyll? ANY natural supplement??? Well, to continue doing that, you only have 32 days left to write your government. A new bill in Congress grants the FDA power to arbitrarily ban supplements that have been safely used for many years, without the need for any evidence that the supplements are actually dangerous.
AND it also tries to turn any supplement in to a "new" supplement and thus subject to the new pre-approval process. This could all have a profoundly negative impact on our nation's health and our healthcare costs.
Dear Senator Chambliss, Senator Isakson and Representative Barrow:
Senator Durbin recently introduced the Dietary Supplement Labeling Act in Congress. I am writing to ask you to oppose it in the Senate and to prevent a similar bill from being introduced in the House. I recently spent a month in Germany, France and the Netherlands. My international peers were appalled at the state of my country, and especially the state of our food and medicine. While we have the best systems in the world in some ways, we also have the worst in the world in others. Policies upon policies I read about and hear about in such documentaries as "Food, Inc." and "Sicko" keep strengthening large businesses and debilitating the hard-working American people that are the pride of our great country. I want this to change.
This bill would not be a positive change, but rather a further decline in American natural foods production and yet another vote for large businesses controlling our population. Instead of advocating FOR health, the Dietary Supplement Labeling Act focuses on the adverse effects of herbs that have been healing the sick for centuries. Why aren't we demanding more information FOR the beneficial, ameliorating aspects of medicines that have been the rights of common people for ages?
This bill requires that the FDA, together with the Institute of Medicine, compile a list of dietary ingredients that could lead to adverse events or are otherwise deemed risky in some way -- based on completely arbitrary or non-existent standards. Moreover, once an ingredient or supplement is on the list, there is no clear process to challenge the FDA and IOM determination, not even if new or contradictory evidence comes to light.
Alternative medicine is a promising and preventative means to reduce healthcare costs and to increase the overall health and well being of our great American people. Increased awareness about the benefits rather than the consequences of time-honored herbal remedies is a positive step towards a more viable future that I see for my country, one that will attract the applause rather than the ridicule of my international peers.
DSHEA, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, GMP standards, and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act all ensure the safety of nutritional supplements and provide guidelines for clear and comprehensive labeling. This is enough.
This bill, the Dietary Supplement Labeling Act, uses vague language to create extraneous red tape, paperwork, and burdensome labeling requirements, when everything the bill mandates other than its new and arbitrary disapproval process is already being accomplished under current law! What is needed is enforcement, not new legislation.
This bill may also have far-reaching consequences. For example, if the FDA and IOM draw up their arbitrary list of "safe" supplements and amounts -- such as no vitamin D in amounts greater than 4000 IU -- as provided for in this bill, more therapeutic supplement doses or preparations would never meet the new hurdle set by the FDA's new guidance on New Dietary Ingredients (NDIs), if that is allowed to go forward. Please do not allow this bill to go forward.
The FDA's new guidance on NDIs itself takes a notification process for new supplements and, contrary to Congressional intent, turns it into a pre-approval process with unknown and therefore completely arbitrary standards. The Dietary Supplement Labeling Act and the new FDA NDI guidance both come out of the same script book: they both essentially give government agencies the right to say no to new supplements on completely arbitrary grounds. And the new FDA NDI guidance also tries to turn any supplement in to a "new" supplement and thus subject to the new pre-approval process. This could all have a profoundly negative impact on our nation's health and our healthcare costs.