Senate Hearing Highlights Dietary Supplement Investigation and New Bill

September 20, 2010

The Senate...s Special Committee on Aging held a hearing on Wednesday, May 26, to discuss the safety of dietary supplements. The hearing, entitled 'Dietary Supplements: What Seniors Need to Know,' highlighted concerns with current enforcement of dietary supplement safety standards as evidenced in part by a recent

The Senate...s Special Committee on Aging held a hearing on Wednesday, May 26, to discuss the safety of dietary supplements. The hearing, entitled 'Dietary Supplements: What Seniors Need to Know,' highlighted concerns with current enforcement of dietary supplement safety standards as evidenced in part by a recent investigation conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO, which conducts Congressional investigations), which found evidence of unlawful advertising practices and contamination of dietary supplements on the market.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), a member of the Special Committee on Aging, used the hearing as a platform for introducing S.3414, the Dietary Supplement Full Implementation and Enforcement Act of 2010 (DSFIE), which he has co-introduced with Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA).

'To ensure that [current laws on dietary supplements] are properly enforced"This legislation requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services (H.H.S.) to submit annual reports to Congress regarding H.H.S. activities on dietary supplements,' said Hatch. 'It directs the FDA to issue its New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) guidance as recommended by the GAO within 180 days, and requires the FDA to notify the Drug Enforcement Agency if it finds that an NDI being evaluated contains an anabolic steroid"'

Harkin mentioned that the bill also calls for at least $20 million for FDA to enforce existing dietary supplement regulation (namely, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act). The bill is currently supported by the players associations of Major League Baseball, the National Football League, and various dietary supplement trade organizations.

The hearing included testimony from several parties: ConsumerLab, the Consumers Union, FDA, the GAO...s Forensic Audits and Special Investigations division, and the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN; Washington, DC).

In his testimony, CRN president and CEO Steve Mister announced the organization...s formal support of Hatch...s bill, saying that the bill '"will go a long way toward providing adequate funding and accountability for FDA.'

The Senate Special Committee on Aging is chaired by Herb Kohl (D-WI).

The full hearing can be streamed at the Senate Special Committee on Aging website.