When the situation regarding “illegal” popular supplements heated up a few years ago, we said a change in the laws was necessary. Supplement manufacturers tried to work within the system to get the ingredients approved and establish self-regulation within the industry but failed.
In fall 2003, the state of Iowa announced it would ban the sales of all supplements containing any FDA-unapproved ingredient. Glucosamine, MSM, all herbals and botanicals were to be pulled from the shelves. The NASC sprang into action, mobilizing their members and animal owners in Iowa to register protests. The outcry was tremendous, and the ban was never implemented.
Public opinion is a powerful force. Without it, the Iowa battle wouldn’t have been won. However, it’s only a cease fire. These supplements remain highly vulnerable, and we still need changes in existing laws in order to protect them.
On the positive side, the NASC is accumulating data regarding the number of doses of supplements sold by member companies over a three-year period vs. reported suspected adverse reactions. This species-specific information can be used as field-safety data, a step beyond what is required of human supplements. However, it could also be viewed as putting a loaded gun into the hands of the FDA, since the FDA has banned sales of some human supplements based on even questionable evidence of safety issues. The NASC’s hope is that the sheer force of numbers?? — doses used vs. adverse reports — will convince the FDA that the products are safe and get a bill sent to Congress to give us that needed law.
Ironically, supporters of the DSHEA legislation may offer resistance, since the NASC’s proposal will raise the bar by requiring adverse-event reporting, which the DSHEA doesn’t require. The NASC believes the FDA is as eager to put an end to this situation as we are. Maybe, but we’re not convinced the FDA has the same end in mind.
Ultimately, the fate of our supplements lies in our hands. Public outcry saved the situation in Iowa. It’s time to get vocal again and get that nationwide legislation.
-Eleanor Kellon, VMD