Stop McCain's Anti-Supplement Bill

Senator McCain introduced a new bill that threatens access to dietary and health supplements many Americans depend on.

It would repeal key protections in the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) and give the FDA sweeping new powers.

Senator McCain's bill, called the "Dietary Supplement Safety Act", would likely mean drastically fewer supplements available and higher prices.

The public outcry has gotten Senator McCain's attention, but time is running out. A final big push could change McCain's mind and put on the brakes in Congress.

Please take a moment and send the U.S. Senators a message urging them NOT to co-sponsor or support Senator McCain's bill. With your help there's a good chance we can halt this harmful anti-supplement legislation.

Dear Senator,

Please do not co-sponsor Senator McCain's Dietary Supplement Safety Act (DSSA). Please instead oppose it!

DSSA would repeal key sections of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). DSHEA protects supplements if 1) they are food products that have been in the food supply and not chemically altered or 2) if they were sold as supplements prior to 1994, the year that DSHEA was passed. If a supplement fits one of these two descriptions, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cannot arbitrarily ban it or reclassify it as a drug.

If this bill passes, the FDA would have full discretion and power to compile a discreet list of supplements allowed to remain on the market. Supplements drawn entirely from food and long established supplements or supplement potencies could be arbitrarily banned.

McCain's Dietary Supplement Safety Act (DSSA) appears to be supported by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) which is funded by major league sports teams including baseball, football and others.

I urge you to refuse to co-sponsor and oppose the Dietary Supplement Safety Act!


In his comments, Senator McCain cited six NFL players recently suspended for testing positive for banned substances and purportedly exposed to these substances through dietary supplements.

The problem here is of course one of illegal sale and use of steroids. So why dismantle the supplement industry in order to control already illegal substances?

The FDA currently has complete and total authority to stop illegal steroids and, more broadly, to regulate dietary supplements. If the agency were doing its job, it could and would have prevented the sale of illegal steroids. The answer to this problem is not to give FDA more power; we should instead demand that the FDA do its job.

Why would a bill be offered to solve an illegal steroid problem that does not really address the steroid problem but instead gives the FDA complete and arbitrary control over all supplements?

One possible explanation is that the bill's sponsor buys into the often heard argument that supplements and drugs should be treated identically, that both should be brought through the FDA's drug approval process in the same way. This is a completely false argument. The FDA drug approval process costs as much as a billion dollars. It is not economically feasible to spend such vast sums on substances that are not protected by patent, and natural substances cannot legally be patented.

This is the great "Catch 22" of American medicine. The FDA is unfriendly to supplements because they do not come through the drug approval process. But the drug approval process only makes sense for patentable substances that will sell at very high prices. This leaves the FDA, which is supposed to guard and promote our health, hostile to the kind of natural medicine--based on diet, supplements, and exercise--that represents the real future of healthcare.

If McCain's bill passes, we can look to Europe for a snapshot of what we may be in for: EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority, has sharply reduced the list of available supplements and is in process of reducing potencies to ridiculous levels, such as less beta carotene than can be found in half of a large carrot.

Again, I urge you to refuse to co-sponsor and oppose the Dietary Supplement Safety Act!

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