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Washington • The Senate rejected a proposal Thursday that would have required the makers of dietary supplements to register with the Food and Drug Administration and provide a label and a list of ingredients for each product it sells or modifies.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, who calls himself a champion of the industry, led the fight against the amendment to a broader FDA bill. The Senate voted 77 to 20 to table the amendment offered by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., an advocate for tougher supplement regulation.
Durbin couched his idea as a common-sense government control that would provide health officials with basic information on the multitude of supplement companies, both in the United States and abroad.
"Wouldn't you assume as a consumer, a family member, when you walk in the store that somebody somewhere knows that this company exists, that this product exists?" Durbin said Wednesday during debate on the amendment. "Right now, they don't. The only disclosure to the government is voluntary."
Hatch and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who authored the federal rules governing supplements, called Durbin's amendment unnecessary and ineffective, saying it would create a mountain of paperwork for legitimate supplement companies and would be ignored by rogue elements of the industry. He also argued that the costs for compiling records would be passed on to consumers.
"Senator Durbin's amendment would have the devastating effect of piling on more work for an under-funded agency already struggling to keep above water with its current core responsibilities," Hatch argued.
Durbin said the FDA wants the information and suggested that he saw the collection of labels and ingredients as a first step to the creation of a public database on supplements, something he considers too expensive to push at this time.
The Senate also defeated an amendment offered by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., that would have prohibited the FDA from taking action against a supplement company using a direct health claim unless a federal court could prove with clear and convincing evidence that the claim was false and misleading. The Senate voted, 78 to 15, to table the amendment.
The impact of the food supplements industry in Utah has been estimated as high as $10 billion annually.