A word on supplements and health freedom
Sound Consumer | June 2007
by Roxanne Green
(June 2007) — We want to put your mind at rest about an alleged crisis in health freedom. A fair number of you called or e-mailed, alarmed by action alerts on the Internet that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is about to restrict severely our access to vitamins and supplements. We want you to know that, yes, we’re aware of what prompted the concerns. But, no, there’s no cause for alarm.
Two actions provoked the action alerts. The first involved an FDA draft “guidance” document. The second was a bill in Congress involving oversight of prescription drugs.
The draft “guidance” document was painted by some on the Internet as a plan to reclassify virtually all vitamins, supplements, herbs and even vegetable juices as FDA-regulated drugs. The Natural Products Association (NPA), which represents the supplement industry, says, however, that this is not true and that the document is not cause for alarm.
The NPA says a “guidance” document by definition is not legally binding and does not change or create laws or regulations. Guidance documents are issued to help explain how food and supplements are regulated under various provisions or statutes. Whether finalized or not, the draft guidance will not change current laws and regulations.
The Congressional bill renewed funding for oversight of prescription drugs, a routine measure. This year, in the wake of pet food, spinach and peanut butter recalls, an amendment was attached to tighten some gaps in the food safety system. Dietary supplements, however, were exempted since current laws already provide the necessary legal framework to protect public health.
Do we need to watchdog the FDA and Congress? Always. As the health and body care coordinator at Redmond PCC, I represent PCC on the Northwest and National Boards of the Natural Products Association. I lobbied decision-makers in Washington D.C. and Oregon recently to advocate freedom of access to supplements.
I also am the Washington state captain in charge of creating a grassroots action structure, just in case we do need to move on any threatening legislation.