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PROGRESS ON SUPPLEMENTS 'HATCH-HARKIN' PASSES SENATE, BUT WAXMAN BLOCKS IT IN HOUSE
From The Cancer Chronicles #23 © Sept. 1994 by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.
[OVER THE YEARS WE HAD QUITE A FEW ARTICLES ON THE SUPPLEMENT BILL. THIS WAS THE FINAL ONE. - - ED.]
Late Saturday afternoon, 8/15, the US Senate passed the dietary supplement bill introduced by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and modified by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA). The bill was approved by unanimous consent, with no roll call vote and no objections: another testimony to the growing power of alternative medicine on Capitol Hill.
"Today we honor the wishes of 100 million people," said Sen. Hatch, "consumers of dietary supplements, people who simply want the ability to lead healthy life styles without the constant intervention of one tiny agency [i.e., the FDA] which is possessed of a regulatory zeal equalled by none."
Under the Hatch-Harkin bill, third-party literature could be given to consumers if that information is balanced, truthful, and nonmisleading, and does not promote a specific brand.
Manufacturers could also make statements about how a particular supplement affects the structure or function of the human body. In addition, the bill mandates creation of an Office of Dietary Supplements at NIH, to coordinate supplement research. It would also create a Commission on Dietary Supplement Labels. The big problem is that for this bill to become law some version of it must pass the House of Representatives as well. And there, despite the co-sponsorship of a great many members, the House version of the bill has been bottled up in the Health and the Environment subcommittee of Energy and Commerce. Committee chairman Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) and particularly subcommittee chair Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) are adamant on blocking the legislation from coming before the full floor of the House.
In our opinion, this is government at its worst, when one or two representatives are able to frustrate the will of the majority. Congress adjourns in October. Well before then readers are strongly urged to contact their own Representatives and urge them to co-sponsor S. 784 when it comes to the House, or to redouble their efforts to persuade Waxman and Dingell to release the bill for a vote. Readers are urged to politely remind Reps. Waxman and Dingell of how vitally important this bill is to them personally. Readers in Waxman's West L.A. district are urged to remind him that their future votes and support depends entirely on his stance on this issue.