Monday, November 09, 2009

Boston Globe wrong on Vitamins, Supplements

Dietary Supplements Are Regulated In its Nov. 2 editorial, the Globe complained that the FDA is “powerless” to police dietary supplements and called for a repeal of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994. Health and Education Act of 1994. I suggest that the editors read the law and see what it is that they would lose by doing so. Mandatory Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) were authorized by this law. GMPs control the manufacturing of all supplements, requiring quality controls, identity and safety testing. Federal GMPs are currently being implemented. No one in their right mind wants this to go away right when it is just getting started. Federal pre-approval of all new dietary ingredients (NDIs) is also required by DSHEA. Isn’t that close to what the editors suggest when they want pre-market approval of all new supplements? Adulterated products are already banned by this law. And steroids and steroid precursors are specifically banned under another more recent law that was supported by the dietary supplement industry. DSHEA bans misbranded products, such as those containing hidden drugs, and offers them absolutely no protection. In fact, the misbranded products that the editors complained about are actually defined as unlabeled drugs by the FDA, not as dietary supplements, so technically DSHEA does not even apply to them. Let’s leave out the evildoers who deliberately hide illegal drugs in bottles misbranded as dietary supplements. What does that leave us with? The vast majority of dietary supplement companies responsibly follow the law and do not have poor quality products. There are rarely cases of serious injuries or deaths from dietary supplements when you take away the products that are really illegal drugs made by outlaws who don’t care about the law or their own customers’ health. Responsible brands follow the new FDA dietary supplement GMPs, checking all ingredients for identity and purity and looking for contaminants and known adulterants. They truthfully declare all ingredients and correct dosages on the labels. They monitor product usage for adverse events and report serious ones to the FDA when they occur. They are not the criminals counterfeiting illegal drugs disguised as dietary supplements. What part of this cries out for such severe regulation that pre-market approval of new formulas is needed? How will new laws stop lawbreakers when their actions are already clearly illegal? Pre-market approval in Canada is a joke; many ingredients and formulas are not available there even though American citizens freely enjoy their use without serious issues. Some American manufacturers have already pulled out of the Canadian market, while others offer only small selections of their lines because of the bureaucratic hoop jumping required for government approval. If DSHEA is repealed, many safe legal products providing much-needed nutrients will disappear while the lawbreakers continue to do business, with a net harm to public health.

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