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The Dangerous Durbin Anti-Supplement Bill

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The FDA can count on mainstream media to mislead the public. Let's get the truth out and stop this bill. Action Alert!

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)'s bill, S.1425, is meant to "improve the safety of dietary supplements by [requiring] manufacturers of dietary supplements to register dietary supplements with the Food and Drug Administration and to amend labeling requirements with respect to dietary supplements." Sounds innocuous, doesn't it? But as we reported in August, this is nothing but a smokescreen-a naked power grab for the FDA and an attempt to regulate safe dietary supplements as if they were dangerous FDA-approved prescription drugs.

A recent article in Newsday quotes "a top agency official" (probably FDA's Division of Dietary Supplement Programs director Dan Fabricant, who is quoted extensively in the article) as saying that 70% of supplement companies have violated FDA's manufacturing rules over the last five years-with the clear implication that such manufacturing violations somehow puts the American public at risk. There is no mention of the nature, context, or seriousness of these alleged violations, and no link to any official reports or documentation.

The article declares that the number of adverse events caused by supplements "outstrips" those triggered by prescriptions drugs. This is totally false. The Newsday article's author, Delthia Ricks, tells us that approximately "6,300 people nationwide complained about adverse reactions to dietary supplements between 2008 and 2012, according to FDA statistics. But the actual number may be more than eight times higher, some experts say, because most people don't believe health products can make them sick." This "eight times higher" claim has no basis in fact, and no documented source. Even if it were true, this number is far less than for prescription drugs.

The 6,300 figure averages to 1,575 per year, which is extremely low considering that 157 million Americans-half the US population-take supplements. This is in comparison to 526,527 adverse events for prescription drugs, 275,421 of which had "serious outcomes," including death.    


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