Health Supplement Industry, Critics, In Pitched Battle
April 10, 2015
A bi-partisan group of attorneys general from 14 states, led by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, a Democrat, and Republican Attorney General Greg Zoeller of Indiana, have called on Congress to investigate the herbal supplements industry. The AGs have signed a letter calling on Congressional leaders to launch an investigation and “weigh a more robust oversight role for the Food and Drug Administration.” In a press release announcing the initiative, Schneiderman’s office also said it had recently concluded a settlement with General Nutrition Corp, a manufacturer of herbal supplements, under which GNC will “use DNA barcoding to authenticate plants used in supplements and adopt new testing standards to prevent contamination,” a move the AG’s office said was “a first step towards ensuring greater consumer safety.” But an article in the Los Angeles Times puts another spin on the story, noting that “Schneiderman’s testing method – DNA bar-coding – was criticized by the supplement industry and outside experts,” and making it sound as if Schneiderman’s office had found it necessary to back down somewhat in its settlement with GNC. A few days later, the industry was back in the headlines, with a New York Times article about a Canadian study that found a common health drink additive poses a potentially serious public health problem. The additive, called BMPEA, was found in numerous supplements sold in the United States, but pulled from shelves in Canada. The Times article cites public health advocates who allege a well-oiled revolving door and crippling conflict of interest at the FDA, which is said to have known about BMPEA, which is similar to amphetamines, for at least two years and not taken action.
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