Monday, June 23, 2014

John Oliver's take on "Unregulated" Dietary Supplements

Another salvo in the War on Vitamins and Dietary Supplements:

John Oliver was funny, but not remotely fair or accurate. Some of the more grievous false examples (in my opinion):

• He assumed no new laws or regulations have been implemented since DSHEA (the Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act of 1994)
o Untrue, and some have been championed by industry; some examples:
 The 2002 Anti-Bioterrorism law's food safety regulations
 The implementation of mandatory Good Manufacturing Practices regulations and increasing numbers of FDA audits over the past 4 years
 Bans on steroids and their precursors
 A mandatory Adverse Event Reporting law
 The more recent Food Safety Law

• He showed old news reports speculating that the botanical ephedra killed 155 people, asserting that these deaths occurred because of DSHEA tying FDA’s hands
o FDA was admittedly unable to substantiate any deaths
o FDA was able to ban ephedra under DSHEA anyway based on a solely theoretical one death per year from billions of doses taken, despite two FDA expert panels unable to validate any deaths

• He claimed that FDA and FTC are powerless to act because of DSHEA, Hatch and Harkin
o The number of enforcements have been rapidly increasing
 Warning letters, recalls, even seizures
o The number of FDA inspections has been rapidly increasing

• He showed how many citizens supported DSHEA in 1993-1994, but asserted that they were misled by industry champions Senators Hatch and Harkin, who received donations from the then relatively tiny $2 billion industry
o He implied that Hatch and Harkin did it solely for the money
o He implied that Hatch and Harkin still block all regulation; see above for contrary examples
 some of the more recent laws were supported by industry and even sponsored by Hatch and/or Harkin)

• He assumed that dietary supplements are largely unregulated because of not enough regulation, rather than their relatively good safety record versus drugs or even other foods
o He promoted pre-market approval of products and claims, similar to a failed Canadian strategy that cut product selection without enhancing safety
o He cited DNA testing of botanicals failing 1/3 of products tested, without mentioning that this is actually a proposed but not yet validated assay technology disputed by herbal authorities as far too premature to use as a standard

This does not address his criticisms of Dr. Oz, who can defend himself.

Link to show:

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