DSHEA, 20 Years Later: Our Safe Harbor in a Sea of Never-ending Tumult

C. Leigh Broadhurst says DSHEA is keeping the natural products industry from the clutches of an enforcement-happy federal government.

C. Leigh Broadhurst

January 16, 2014

2 Min Read
DSHEA, 20 Years Later: Our Safe Harbor in a Sea of Never-ending Tumult

While we may crab about the strained language and euphemism overload created by DSHEA, these have been halcyon days for the natural products industry. Indeed, this website wouldnt exist today without the freedom weve had to develop and market products and reinvest capital instead of paying for clinical trials and overbearing regulatory/safety compliance.

Last July, James Gormley warned that the Food and Drug Administration doesnt like the natural products industry. I agree. In the past five years, FDA regulatory authority has escalated. The pharmaceutical industry, despite massive campaign contributions, is experiencing an all-time high of government fines and litigationand the new medical devices tax. Last year, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) reintroduced the Dietary Supplement Labeling Act, which grants numerous government agencies regulatory power over the industry, virtually assuring that products such as extracted phytochemicals from nonfood plants will be off the market.

With this proposed act, further industry expansion is nearly impossible. Increasing FDA regulatory authority is part of a comprehensive plan for government control of health care.

Last month, I read in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times that another medical study finds multivitamins useless and recommends they be avoided. This is just the latest of many such pronouncements that produce a few weeks of kerfluffle for our industry but ultimately anger and confound the authors and their elitist cronies. Why? Because the desired effectthe public abandoning supplements in drovesnever seems to happen.

Ive seen polls claiming that 50 percent of U.S. adults use dietary supplements; typically a few hundred per year experience serious side effects and nobody dies. (In contrast prescription and OTC drugs kill thousands yearly and cause many more serious side effects.) Economics 101 tells you that 150 million people in a free market will not pay for something thats useless. Even if some of them are, Psychology 101 tells us that up to 30 percent of people in any clinical trial respond to placebo.

Put simply, people taking supplements believe they are doing something healthy that reduces their risk for illness. They gain happiness, self-empowerment and peace of mind, which always correlates with better health outcomes.

Please be skeptical of expansionist government. Look around youEBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) cards are welcome at McDonalds. Some of you vegans who would not even be a McDonalds stockholderlet alone eat thereare financing this with your taxes. Do you want to finance the end of your business as well, and end up another EBT family?

Its no secret that unscrupulous vendors, substandard products, and nonscientific approaches exist and (even proliferate) in our industry. You know who you are, and I would appeal to you to clean up your act or at least lie low. We must ensure that DSHEA remains status quo, because our industry hangs in the balance.

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