Key senator vows work on diet supplement bill

A Republican author of the 1994 law that governs dietary supplements said on Monday he would work with Democrats on legislation to improve reporting of potential side effects to the government.

Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said he agreed the current reporting system could be strengthened to better help regulators identify dangerous supplements quickly.

“I’m willing to work hard to try and resolve this problem,” Hatch said on the Senate floor, adding, “as long as the industry is consulted ... and isn’t pushed around.”

Currently, manufacturers of vitamins, herbs and other dietary supplements do not have to inform the government of consumer complaints of health problems that might be linked to their products.

To help regulators take action against risky supplements sooner, Illinois Democrat Sen. Richard Durbin has proposed mandating that manufacturers report to regulators any complaints involving deaths or serious health problems.

The American Herbal Products Association, an industry group, supports mandatory reporting.

Hatch was one of the main authors of the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, which set forth rules for government regulation of supplements.

The 1994 law allows supplements to be sold without being subject to the extensive safety and effectiveness tests required for pharmaceuticals. The government must prove a supplement is dangerous to force it off the market.

Durbin, in exchange for Hatch’s promise to work to address his concerns, dropped an amendment to a defense bill that would have required reporting of “adverse events” by manufacturers who sell stimulant-containing supplements on military bases.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: July 6, 2011
Last revised: by Amalia K. Gagarina, M.S., R.D.