Washington, D.C.—An amendment to the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (Bill S.3187) put forth by U.S. Senator Richard Durbin (D–IL) wouldn't have been popular with supplement supporters.
On May 24, the Senate voted 77 to 20 to stop Durbin's anti-supplements legislation. Without the addendum, the Bill passed with a 96 to 1 vote.
Durbin, who recently asked the agency to investigate the contents of high-caffeine energy drinks like Red Bull, put several provisions in the killed amendment, including:
* The requirement for all supplement makers to register facilities under the Bioterrorism Act of 2001, originally intended for food companies. Renewals would occur every two years.
* The requirement for companies to submit paper labels of products to FDA. The burden would have fallen on product manufacturers, including contract manufacturers.
Durbin spoke on the Senate floor about why his amendment—based on a provision in the 2011 Dietary Supplement Labeling Act—is needed.
He stated: “If a dietary supplement ingredient presented serious health concerns, the FDA would likely not have enough information to track down the product containing that harmful ingredient. Requiring manufacturers to provide basic information about their product to the FDA and to consumers is common sense.”
Once it was evident that Senate would vote quickly on this amendment, industry associations like the American Herbal Products Association moved with lightning speed asking industry members to contact their representatives to voice any opposition.
The Natural Products Association contacted Congressional champions, grassroots networks and other stakeholders to kill the amendment. According to a press statement, a coordinated effort with four other trade groups resulted in contact with every single Senate office to oppose the amendment. Meanwhile, Alliance for Natural Health USA grassroots activists sent 90,000 emails and made numerous calls to Capitol Hill in opposition of the amendment. In addition, the group’s Capitol Hill lobbyist spoke with 12 Senate offices about the amendment before the vote.
Durbin's addendum wasn't the only one shot down. An amendment from Rand Paul to stop FDA officials from carrying weapons and to require warrants for raids and arrests due to product violations also failed (78-15 vote).
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, July 2012 (online 5/23/12, updated 5/25/12)