McCain Withdraws Support for Supplement Bill

WASHINGTON, DC -- Sen. John McCain officially withdrew his support for the Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010 (S.3002), legislation that members of the supplement industry feared would negatively affect sales.

The proposed legislation also could have held health club operators and retailers responsible for the safety of the sports supplements they sell.

In a March 10 letter, McCain outlined terms of an agreement reached with three other senators, including Sen. Orrin Hatch, which included incorporating his areas of concern from S.3002 into the pending FDA Food Safety Modernization bill (S.510). Those points included:

• Requiring all dietary supplement manufacturing, processing and holding facilities to register with the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

• Ensuring the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authority to issue mandatory supplement recalls.

• Requiring the commissioner of the FDA to publish guidelines on new dietary ingredients as soon as possible.

• Mandating that the FDA notify the Drug Enforcement Administration when a new dietary ingredient premarket notification is rejected because it contains a synthetic anabolic steroid.

The original bill was designed to keep steroids out of dietary supplements, and received the support of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). S.3002 was similar to that organization’s Supplement Safety Now campaign, which hoped to limit steroids in supplements.

“The agreement provides much-needed additional consumer protections, without risking access to legal supplements,” Travis T. Tygart, USADA CEO, said in a statement. “This is a battle that has been won for the good guys, and we will continue to monitor the impact of these changes while maintaining efforts to hold the supplement industry accountable for ensuring all of their products are healthy and safe for consumers.”

In a previous letter to McCain, Sen. Hatch, the author of the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), expressed his intention to continue working on the issue of safe supplement sales.

“As we move forward on this important issue, I want to work with you on calling for the full enforcement of existing laws, such as DSHEA, so Americans will have uninterrupted access to safe dietary supplements and bad actor companies are removed from the market immediately,” Sen. Hatch wrote.

Industry trade groups also welcomed the announcement. Suppliers in the $25.2 billion U.S. supplement industry feared the proposed requirements in S.3002 would cause significant losses in sales.

“The original McCain-Dorgan bill would have radically altered the existing regulatory framework [in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act], and threatened an entire industry in an ineffective attempt to combat a relatively few bad actors,” John Gay, CEO of the Natural Products Association, said in a statement.

Gay cautioned that the McCain bill should serve as a “wake-up call for the industry,” and that other members of Congress could pick up where S.3002 left off.

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