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From the Townsend Letter
August/September 2007


The Voice of Health Freedom Was Heard
by Byron J. Richards, CCN

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Many thousands of Americans flooded the Senate with objections to a clause relating to the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which could be used to target dietary supplements by evaluating them as drugs for safety purposes. While Senator Michael Enzi (R-WY) refused to change the language, we created such an uproar that assurances are officially in the Congressional Record that this legislation is not to be used to harass dietary supplements.

And we headed off a potential attack by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) -- who for some reason is always trying to get vitamins classified as drugs (more safety hypocrisy). Key to this effort was myself writing for; Mike Adams, writing for; and John Hammell of the International Advocates for Health Freedom. Support also came from many other groups who forwarded the message. All our efforts resulted in the following testimony on the floor of the Senate as reported in the Congressional Record:

May 2, 2007

Mr. HATCH. My office has been inundated by calls from people throughout the country who believe that this legislation, specifically the provision establishing a Reagan-Udall Institute, will overturn the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994. That has not been my reading of the bill, but I wonder if other Senators have heard similar concerns?

Mr. HARKIN. Yes, I have received a good many calls as well. And, I have to say that I would be very concerned, as I know the Senator from Utah is, if anything in the bill we are considering, S.1082, would overturn DSHEA, a law we fought side-by-side to see enacted.

Mr. ENZI. It might be helpful if I explained the provision you are discussing, as my office has received many calls as well, and I believe the callers are not informed about this matter. Subtitle B of title II of S. 1028 establishes the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the Food and Drug Administration. That simple purpose of that nonprofit Foundation is to lead collaborations among the FDA, academic research institutions, and industry designed to bolster research and development productivity, provide new tools for improving safety in regulated product evaluation, and, in the long term, make the development of those products more predictable and manageable.

Mr. KENNEDY. That is exactly the purpose of the Foundation, which was included in the drug safety legislation Senator Enzi and I introduced last year. The Foundation will be financially supported by industry and philanthropic donated funds. A chief scientist at FDA will promote intramural research and coordinate it with efforts at the Foundation.

Mr. HATCH. That explanation is very helpful. What, specifically, would the role of the Foundation be with respect to dietary supplements?

Mr. KENNEDY. Let me make absolutely clear that the Reagan-Udall Foundation will in no way override, overturn, or conflict with the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. Nothing in this bill would have that effect.

Mr. ENZI. Yes, we took great pains to make certain there would be no conflict with DSHEA. Regarding foods and dietary supplements are generally regulated as foods, the general directive of the Foundation is to identify holes in the evaluation of food safety and identify ways to address those deficiencies through collaborative research with industry.

Mr. HARKIN. So to make this absolutely clear, what you are saying is that the bill we are debating would in no way interfere with consumers' access to dietary supplements?

Mr. HATCH. To add to that point, it seems that the language could, in fact, help dietary supplement consumers, because it would allow collaboration between government and industry to conduct research on issues that might be helpful to supplement consumers?

Mr. KENNEDY. Yes, that is the case.

Mr. ENZI. I agree with Chairman Kennedy's assessment.

Mr. HATCH. I thank you for those assurances and that clarification.

Mr. HARKIN. This has been a very helpful discussion, because Senator Hatch and I could never support legislation that would interfere with DSHEA, and we are glad to receive the assurances of the chairman and the ranking Republican on the committee.

On May 1, we sent out another urgent call to action because Durbin was planning an end run around DSHEA that would further attack dietary supplements. Once again, the people flooded the Senate, and on May, 3, 2007, Senator Hatch responded to the concerns we raised. The Congressional Record states the following:

Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, a number of questions have been raised about how the Durbin amendment on food safety, adopted yesterday by a unanimous vote, would affect regulation of dietary supplements….

For the edification of my colleagues, section 201ff of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, FFDCA, contains the definition of dietary supplements. That definition includes a proviso that supplements are to be considered foods, except in the instance when a product makes a drug claim. In other words, by Federal law, dietary supplements are generally considered to be foods.

It is for this reason that the language of the original Durbin amendment establishing a new adulterated food registry could have been read to apply to dietary supplements.

This raised problems for me, and indeed for our colleague Senator Harkin, since we had spent more than 2 [two] years working with Senators Durbin, Kennedy, and Enzi to draft, pass and enact the Dietary Supplement and Nonprescription Drug Consumer Protection Act, Public Law 109-462. That law authorizes a new program so that reports of serious adverse events related to the use of a dietary supplement or over-the-counter drug would be reported to the Food and Drug Administration, FDA, on a priority basis.

As I said, the Durbin amendment contemplates a new adulterated food registry. Under the provisions establishing that registry, reports of adulterated foods would be made by many, if not all, of the same parties who are required to file reports of serious adverse events associated with the use of dietary supplements under Public Law 109-462. And so passage of the Durbin amendment could be seen to supersede the law we enacted last year for supplements, which I am relieved to hear was not the intent of our colleague, Senator Durbin.

Consequently, the amendment we adopted yesterday contains language that Senator Harkin and I suggested to make certain that dietary supplements would not be covered by the new food safety language and thus last year's law would not be superseded. To reassure those who are interested in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, DSHEA, I wanted to take a moment to outline those changes.

First, there is new language in the section establishing the adulterated food registry to express the sense of the Senate that: (1) DSHEA has established the legal framework to ensure that dietary supplements are safe and properly labeled foods; (2) the Dietary Supplement and Nonprescription Drug Consumer Protection Act has established a mandatory reporting system of serious adverse events for nonprescription drugs and dietary supplements sold and consumed in the United States; and (3) the adverse events reporting system under that act will serve as the early warning system for any potential public health issues associated with the use of these food products.

In addition, language contained in the Durbin amendment modifies the definition of supplement contained in 201ff of the FFDCA so that supplements will not be considered foods for the purpose of the new adulterated foods registry. This in no way would alter the time-honored conclusion of the Congress that supplements are to be considered foods. On the contrary, all it would do is exempt supplements from the registry.

These changes, all contained in the amendment which was approved yesterday, make clear that there are no new dietary supplement requirements in the Food and Drug Administration Revitalization Act. It is my hope this will reassure the many who have expressed concern that Congress was inadvertently repealing Public Law 109-462.

The voice of the people has been heard. Let us not forget these promises nor let the FDA forget them -- as the questionable language regarding the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the FDA still remains.

Waking up the American public to the larger issue of drug safety is a much more challenging task. Kennedy and Enzi are claiming that the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the FDA is nothing but a friendly non-governmental research foundation. I will fully document in a subsequent article that this is not the case. It is actually the tool by which Big Pharma and Big Biotech will lock in their profits for the next 50 years, as FDA joins them in the drug development and marketing business. This is one of the greatest safety threats in the history of America.

The battle now moves to the House and then to a conference committee. The legislation is being ram-rodded through before the general public knows what is happening. Mainstream media, a primary client of Big Pharma, is intentionally failing to explain the true meaning of S1082. There is still time for Americans to determine their fate.


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