Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Save the supplements

Posted By on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 10:13 AM

Yet another fight is brewing between the natural foods community and government (U.S. senators at the moment, but ultimately the FDA) over nutritional supplements.

I received my monthly mailer from Vitamin Cottage Natural Grocers (where I do a fair amount of shopping) yesterday, in which the company devotes half a page urging folks to contact their representatives in opposition of the Dietary Supplement Safety Act (DSSA) introduced by John McCain and Byron Dorgan in February. Here's a portion of the argument:

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If passed, the bill would provide the FDA absolute power to arbitrarily ban any supplement it sees fit. Additionally, the burdensome and duplicative record-keeping requirements would put most of the businesses in the dietary supplement industry out of business. DSSA is a real threat to our hard-won health freedoms; particularly our right to become educated about nutrients ... Tragically, this bill is being proposed under the guise of enforcing anti-doping in sports and preventing the adulteration of dietary supplements with steroidal drugs.

If you've read enough, you can find a link on Vitamin Cottage's home page to a form letter against DSSA, organized by Citizens for Health.

But if you want to dig a little deeper, both in opposition to and support of the bill, here are some sites to visit:

USA Triathlon supports DSSA, offering a quote by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency calling the bill "fair and balanced."

This Medical Doctors' open letter opposes DSSA, citing concerns that patients who use high-quality supplements to treat serious illnesses might lose access to them.

This post by author David Gorski in Science-Based Medicine provides a great deal of background dating back to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) in 1994, citing pros and cons of DSSA, but ultimately arguing for the bill, concluding with the statement:

Whatever bill passes, the McCain or Durbin bill, as has been true for 16 years now, something needs to be done to fix the the DSHEA, or, as I like to call it, the Supplement Manufacturer’s Protection Act. As long as the DSHEA remains intact, it’s more or less the honors system for supplement manufacturers, and I don’t trust supplement manufacturers any more than many trust big pharma. In fact, in many cases, they are becoming one and the same. Big pharma recognizes profit potential when it sees it, and supplements can be marketed without all that pesky and expensive testing that are required for new drugs.

Lastly, here's a YouTube audio clip from radio show Coast to Coast AM discussing the issue:

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