Senator Durbin Launches New Attack on Supplements

Saturday, July 23, 2011 @ 11:07 AM
posted by Beth Clay

S. 1310 the Dietary Supplement Labeling Act of 2011

Senator Durbin, the number 2 man in the Senate, (the Democratic Whip), has for many years attempted to undermine the hard won victories of Proxmire, NLEA, and the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA). He has launched a new battled against the dietary supplement industry with the introduction of S. 1310 the Dietary Supplement Labeling Act of 2011. This can only spell trouble for the industry and the consumers who rely on supplements.

One company selling single serving products (Lazy Cakes) Melatonin ‘Brownies’ along with energy drinks that the FDA is looking to target, have given Senator Durbin a ‘Consumer Protection’ platform from which to launch legislation that would have much broader implications. This is a strategy that cannot be ignored or underestimated.

Senator Durbin Wants to Give the FDA Even More Power: In typical Durbin fashion, he issued press statements and introduced the legislation just as Congress was headed home for the July 4th holiday week. Also true to form, the press statements and the actual text of the legislation tell different stories. According to press accounts, Senator Durbin is seeking to have the FDA draw a strong line between dietary supplements and food additives, the Durbin/ Blumenthal “legislation would require FDA to establish a clear definition of which products are foods and should be regulated as such and which products are meant to be health aids and should be regulated as dietary supplements. “ If that was not bad enough (there is no indication that the drafts of DSHEA intended for a hard line to be drawn between foods and supplements), his legislation goes much further. Durbin’s proposed legislation chips away at the founding principles of food law as they relate to dietary supplements, pushing both closer to the drug regulatory framework, which even Pharma says is too lengthy and too costly. (Currently it is estimated that a drug company will spend around $1 billion and a dozen years to get a product approved.)

S. 1310:

Adds Additional and Burdensome Registration Requirements for Manufacturers;

Seeks to Supersede US Law with the Implementation of a European Union Style List of food ingredients and products which can be sold as supplements; and

Will Be the Death Knell for Proprietary Blended Products.

Dietary Supplements and other Food are Already Heavily Regulated: All foods including dietary supplements are already heavily regulated. In the last few years Congress has passed major legislation including the Food Safety Bill that the FDA is working to implement.

Further, DSHEA, which was passed into law in 1994, has components that are not yet fully implemented. The laws on the books are sufficient to address the melatonin brownie issue as well as any questions about energy drinks; a concerted grassroots effort is needed to educate those involved and stop this bill from progressing. So far only Senators Durbin and Blumenthal are cosponsors. A concerted effort is needed to keep it that way.

Even if the Bill does not move through regular order in the Senate, Durbin is very powerful, may try to insert the Bill language into another Bill that is moving, so we will need to maintain vigilance and insure other Senators do not go along.

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