Remembering Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Dietary Supplement Industry Champion

Sen. Hatch, sponsor of DSHEA, passed away on Saturday, April 23, at the age of 88.

in memoriam

Senator Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), who served in the Senate for seven terms before retiring in 2018, passed away on Saturday, April 23, at the age of 88. The New York Times reported that the cause was complications of a stroke suffered on April 15. The Hatch Foundation shared that Sen. Hatch passed away at 5:30 p.m. in Salt Lake City, Utah, surrounded by family.

Senator Orrin G. Hatch (1934-2022). Image courtesy of the Hatch Foundation.

Sen. Hatch was a key player in the passing of the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), and continues to fight for the natural products industry on Capitol Hill. He also had served as a co-chair of the Dietary Supplement Caucus, a bipartisan congressional group of legislators, who promote discussions among lawmakers about the benefits of dietary supplements, provide tips and insights for better health and wellness, and promote research about the health care cost savings these products provide.

Sen. Hatch was recognized as a champion of supplements by WholeFoods Magazine in the 2014 article Industry Trailblazers and the Fight for Health Freedom, which details the passage of DSHEA, and how industry members worked with Sen. Hatch, who put in tremendous effort to negotiate drafts of the bill and ensure his fellow lawmakers supported it.

Upon news of Sen. Hatch’s passing, Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., President, and CEO of the Natural Products Association (NPA), said, “We lost a friend and a giant of the natural products industry. His service to the United States of America and Utah is second to none. Senator Hatch was an incredibly compassionate man who was an exemplary model for working across the aisle. No other individual has left a greater impact on the dietary supplement industry. From his authoring of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act to his active engagement and open-door policy with industry stakeholders, he was a titan for all-natural products industry stakeholders big or small.”

Steve Mister, President and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), also issued a statement, recalling Sen. Hatch as a “tremendous statesman” and champion for the  industry. “Our members and dietary supplement consumers owe him immeasurable gratitude for his unwavering support for this industry and his tenacious defense of the ability of consumers to make their own decisions about their health regimens and to have access to these products. It is no overstatement to say that the industry as it exists today was brought into being by Senator Hatch and his Democratic counterpart, Senator Tom Harkin. The two founding fathers of this industry co-sponsored and championed the Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act of 1994, recognized as the foundational law for today’s supplement industry.

“Under DSHEA, the supplement marketplace has grown from a $4 billion to a $56 billion dollar industry. [Sen. Hatch] continued to support and defend the industry through co-sponsorship of the law creating mandatory adverse event reporting for dietary supplements in 2006, and gave his support for other initiatives still being debated today, such as including supplements in reimbursable healthcare expenses and establishing mandatory product listing.

“Beyond his defense of dietary supplements, Senator Hatch amassed a formidable legislative record and was an influential statesman forging not just alliances, but deep friendships with those across the political aisle. His willingness to seek compromise and consensus—traits too little in evidence today—are worthy of our emulation. While we mourn his loss and extend our deepest heartfelt sympathies to his family, friends, and staff, we know we are all also much indebted to his legacy.”

The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) also honored Sen. Hatch, sharing, “We gratefully acknowledge the momentous contributions Senator Hatch made to our industry in his storied career of public service.” AHPA President Michael McGuffin added, “Senator Hatch’s impact on the dietary supplement industry cannot be understated. His legacy will be carried on as AHPA continues to defend the rights of our families, friends and neighbors to have access to dietary supplements and natural products for their personal health.”
Sen. Hatch is remembered as a champion of the consumer, too. In 2018, when Sen. Hatch announced that he would not seek re-election, Mister, told WholeFoods: “He often gets identified as a voice for the supplement industry, but he comes from a state with a lot of manufacturing of supplements and with a huge population of people who use these products. He was a voice for the consumer. He’s a consumer himself. That’s what makes him so effective an advocate.”

This article will be updated with more from the industry.

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