A finance reform bill called the “Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009” (H.R. 4173), which recently passed in the House of Representatives, now includes a strange addition by Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA).
Waxman seems to believe the dietary supplement industry should be regulated like the pharmaceutical industry. The language he wants in the bill can be used to get around the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), the legislation that governs dietary supplement regulation by the FDA. The new language would give new powers to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), allowing it to circumvent key supplement protections in DSHEA.
It gets complicated wading through how these regulations work, and what falls under what agency’s jurisdiction. Here’s the bottom line: The mainstream healthcare industry — from big pharmaceutical companies to insurance groups to physicans’ associations — are not fans of supplements and natural health approaches. It’s bad for their botton line, and so they lobby to get them regulated out of existence.
The big loser, as always, is the consumer. Alliance for Natural Health writes:
Supplements are not drugs. In most cases, drugs are non-natural and therefore patentable substances. Why patentable? Because no company will spend a billion dollars on studies and FDA approval trials without the monopoly provided by the patent. To insist that supplements be treated like drugs is really to sound the death knell for the supplement industry, something that drug companies would be delighted to see, because they know that supplements are their chief potential competition, are often more effective than drugs, are often less toxic, and are always much less expensive.
On a hunch, I went to OpenSecrets.org to find out who Rep. Waxman’s main campaign contributors are. You’ll never guess…