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GAO Hounds Supplement Makers

The government’s growing involvement in the dietary-supplement industry strikes many as a waste of the people’s time and treasure.
Years ago, Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., co-authored legislation requiring the dietary-supplement industry to report adverse events, effective December 2007. In 2008 the FDA received 1,080 adverse event reports relating to the use of dietary supplements. In the same time period, there were a total of 526,527 adverse events reports stemming from the use of prescription drugs. Despite the gaping difference between those two figures, a few congressional leaders — including Durbin himself — queried the Government Accounting Office regarding the marketing of “selected herbal dietary supplements.”
Now — in response to a request by Durbin and Reps. Stupak, Dingell and Waxman — the agency has issued the “GAO Report to Congressional Requesters: Dietary Supplements FDA Should Take Further Actions to Improve Oversight and Consumer Understanding”. The report states that the FDA has seen a threefold increase in adverse event reports (AERs) relating to dietary supplements compared with the previous year, even though the legislation requiring AERs of dietary supplements did not go into effect until 2008.Herbal supplements
Furthermore, the GAO report claims that the FDA has “limited information on types of products (dietary supplements) currently available in the marketplace,” this despite the fact that in 2005 the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) provided the FDA with a copy of the second edition of its Herbs of Commerce in addition to extensive congressional testimony, given under oath, all of which contradict the GAO’s statement. As the AHPA update on January 26, 2010, notes: “[L]etters indicate the GAO is not entirely clear on the way the DSHEA [the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994] addresses dietary supplements”. AHPA adds that it “is working to learn more about the reason for the committee’s request.”
In the years leading up to 1994, consumers overwhelmingly told their elected officials (and these officials were in office when DSHEA was passed into law!) that they want access to dietary supplements and trust their own judgment to make informed decisions about which supplements are right for their needs. In light of today’s pressures to protect the nation’s safety and restore the economy, all while reducing waste, spending tax payers’ money to address “a review of the marketing of selected herbal dietary supplements” seems worse than silly.

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23 thoughts on “GAO Hounds Supplement Makers

  • Robert Hardeman

    I think before they mess with supplements, they should get the facts right first, and then clean up the pharma problems that are a much larger problem than any thing, they will let them pump posions into us, but dont want nothing good going into us, makes no sense to me, but hey , who ever thought that gov officals had much sense any how..

    • Juidth

      It is time to take action at the big pharmaceutical companies. Just listen to all their advertisements going on how this product and this one will vertually make you well. Along with making you well there are all of these side affects to damge the organs of your body not to mention the brain.
      So the sicker the can keep us the better for BIG Business that includes the insurance companies even though they don’t really like to pay out.
      Keeps the doctors busy with tests, handing out drug after drug.
      It comes to my attention that the government thinks we can’t think for ourselves making right choices for our bodies. Let’s take charge of our health today.

    • Theresa

      What a politically motivated bunch of hog wash pushed forward by the drug mafia. Thousands of people die annually at the hands of big pharma. From our first breath to our last they are hammering us with medications that are dystroying minds and bodies.
      Just think about it kid today get thiry vaccines before they are 7 0r 8 years old. we are only beginning to see the horrible side effects of this attack on our children and society at large. Big pharma’s agenda is druging as soon as possible, on as many people and pets as possible. Money, Money, Money.
      Wake up America 2/3 of the world use herbs as their primary medicine.
      Here is an aside: think having all you medical records available on some GE computer site is a great idea… think again, waht a great way for our beloved goverment to know all about us. Think 1939- 1945. Don’t sign up for it

      • Diane

        Theresa, you are exactly right. As I hear more and more about electronic medical records, I think about all the ways this information will be accessed, and it is truly frightening. Life and Health Insurance companies will be able to use it to determine who they are willing to insure – and at what premium level, employers will gain access to information they can use to make employment decisions (sick days, increased health care premiums, disability info), even credit card and mortgage companies, landlords, etc. And, as we move further into a world where we can gather genetic information from a simple bloodtest or lock of hair, this will only get worse. For a good look at the future, watch the movie “Gattica.” It may seem like sci-fi, but with each year that passes, it gets to be more like reality.
        As to the supplement issue, unfortunately McCain (who gets nice “donations” from pharma groups) is using the ridiculous Congressional “investigation” into sports and steroids to push this anti-supplements/pro-pharmaceutical legislation. First, Congress wasting time on baseball steroid issues was just that – a waste of time. In my opinion, we have far too many REAL problems for Congress to solve before they start worrying about who hit how many home runs, and did they take steroids, And in order to seem like they are taking it all to heart, the NFL and MLB sports organizations are now stumping for the McCain legislation. As if sports millionaires will ever have a hard time getting ahold of all the supplements – legal AND illegal – they want. It is just us little folks who will be unable to buy our supplements! McCain is just all wrong on this, and for a guy who was so strongly against healthcare reform, he is sure suddenly interested in restricting our ability to keep ourselves healthy! We need to let our Congresspeople know how we feel about this bill – it is time to “just say NO.”

  • S S

    It would be ridiculous to have to go to the doctor each time we need a bottle of vitamin C and the like.
    DSHEA is the only thing that keeps us out of Codex.

  • Weston Cram

    Very sad and disgusting what GAO is doing with supplement makers. It makes it even worse that they obviously have more important things to do.

  • nancy


  • Do not restrict my use of dietary supplements they are much safer than drugs. We do not need the FDA to get involved. They can’t protect our food or our drugs so why add to their work.

    • Gail

      I agree with you totally. The FDA needs to focus on the drugs and vaccines that are killing people and causing diseases. They do not protect our food, and allow us to be fed genetically modified foods, that both my Father and I had a serious reaction to, and that is when I started studying genetically modified food. The FDA allows the pharmaceutical company to experiment and kill us, and it takes an act of God, and many lives taken, before they will take a drug off the market. The FDA is worthless, and they need to butt out of our business. I have had it.

  • Ann Curtis

    The time could be better spent addressing real problems, like people sickened and Autism rates sky high because of vaccines; the 100,000+ deaths last year from pharmaceutical drugs; the multitude of cross-reactions from pharmaceutical drugs; the malabsorption in people these days; the DEAD food in our grocery and supermarkets; our tainted water supply; excitotoxins in over 9,000 food stuffs; people who are too sick to live in society because of pesticides, herbicides, chemicals; and animal and human reproductive problems due to dumping pharmaceutical wastes in our waterways and inefficient waste plant filtration systems. Wow. With all those problems–as well as working on affordable healthcare–they still have time to pick on herbal supplements? Leave the good things alone and fix those things that need fixed. The supplements are doing just fine. Leave them alone, and fix the dis-eased healthcare system instead.

    • Frank Di Mora

      Wow Ann, you hit the nail on the head. I hae been taking supplements since I was 8 years old and am now 70 and look 50. I never took any kind of meds until I hit 67 and then I refuse to take any more than two or three at the MOST> Of course the “Doctors” would love to see me on many more unnecessary drugs. Of course some meds may be necessary at times but lets not get rediculous and live our lives as Big Pharma Junkies. Supplements have keept me healthy for many years and if these misguided and somewhat ignorant “leaders” have it their way, many millions of people will become more unhealthy and die at earlier ages and the quality of their lives will greatly deminish. Has the concept of DEPOPULATION every been so high on their agenda?

  • Vitamins, minerals, and many other natural micro- and macro-nutrients are essential for facilitated healing (reversal) of many chronic diseases that affect so many of our overfed, but malnourished population.
    For successful reversal of major medical conditions such as coronary heart disease and carotid artery stenosis, we have to use vitamins and other nutrients in much higher than RDA, optimal amounts.
    Further, natural products are extremely safe to us, our patients, and our rivers, that suppose to be our source of food (fish) and biologically clean drinking water.
    This can’t be said about most of prescription drugs. Please, access (google) one particular Australian research article, “Gauging the pharmaceutical burden on Sydney’s environment: a preventative response”, as it recommends use of natural products instead of drugs that foul their rivers and scarce sources of drinking water.
    Authors: Peter M. J. Fisher (of James Goldston Faculty of the Engineering and Physical Systems, Central Queensland University, Gladstone, Australia), and Robert Borland (of Bioderm Pty Ltd, Melbourne, Australia).
    Please, let me know if I can be of any help to your/our/US Congress cause of providing effective, safe, and low-cost integrative medical care for the rest of the country. We already reformed US healthcare system in the microcosm of our practice. We routinely decalcify and reopen coronary and carotid arteries, etc. We have about 18 years of (excellent) outcomes data, outstanding cost effectiveness data, and we are rated the best most of the time for years by reputable independent reviewers/healthcare plans. I will be happy to share this data with you to support your cause, with interested congressmen and senators, or testify in US Congress.
    Jan Radzik, MD
    503 472-9438

  • Paul Bowen

    DSHEA is a law that was passed for a reason. Those of us who choose to remain healthy by eating right and supplementing our diet with vitamins and minerals, to overcome the virtually nutrient free food that is sold nowadays, take offense at any attempt to infringe upon our rights to determine our paths to good health. You are free to fill your body with chemicals from the drug companies if you so choose. Your body will pay the price. Small wonder that this country has the highest per capita costs for “health care” and the lowest life span.
    Look at the statistics for diseases enjoyed by the population. Remember when adult onset diabetes was just that. Not anymore. Heart attacks were an old persons way to go. Not anymore. I could go on and on but you get the picture.
    Leave those of us who choose to remain healthy alone. There are enough sheep in the world to keep the drug companies, and by extension, the politicians, in money. Do what you will with your body–leave mine alone.
    Enjoy your poor health.

  • Debbie Bartelsmeyer

    I will rest much easier if/when government officials (Congress, FDA, GAO, etc.) begin to OPENLY publish the potential for deadly side effects of prescription drugs, seek to improve the safety of Tylenol and other commonly used drugs, and provide scientifically accurate information to consumers about supplements and other ways to REDUCE health care costs.

  • Doris Carey

    Concentration should be on chemical s in our food and environment that are toxic and carcogenic.
    How many people die or are sickened by prescribed drugs>? How about our food supply? This is where FDA should be concentrating and money should be spent to protect the American consumer.

  • Ann Gordon

    The “good old government” always rushing to ‘protect’ us. They are omnipotent, and we are just a bunch of ‘dummies’ who don’t know what’s good for us! Seems to me, there are more important things for the government to concentrate on. How about inspecting food coming into the US. I heard that about 2% is inspected. That’s only ONE thing. Maybe everyone in the government should be REQUIRED to sit down and read the Constitution from beginning to end. That would be a start.
    Maybe a better solution would be to fire the whole bunch and start over 🙂

  • Julie L Larson

    Even the insurance companies have a handle on this…..they won’t pay for my iron Rx anymore….because good iron supplements can be had OTC in drug stores as well as health food stores and co-ops. Of course they are trying to save money for themselves,,,,the CEOs and the investors….BUT, I’ll bet if this were shown to them, they wouldn’t want to add to their problems visits to the doc and payment also for something as simple a a nutrient.
    The FDA has enough trouble dealing between insurance companies and pharmaceutical manufacturers (that slipping and slidding is illegal….hum!!!!) They don’t need a new problem to mess with their nice cozy nest.

  • Gail

    I voted for Senator John McCain to become my President, but I am very upset with him regarding the bill that he is proposing that threatens our access to nutritional supplements and repeals key sections of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. Prescription drugs killed my Mother, my boyfriend of 11 years that I was hoping to grow old with, and many friends and family. That is when I started investing everything to do with the pharmaceutical industry. I have downloaded their patents, and I also download prescription and vaccine inserts. They are killing us, and the FDA gives them immunity for killing us. I have had it!!!! If the elected officials can be bought off by the pharmaceutical industry that is causing most of the diseases we face today, because of greed and the depopulation movement, then I do not support the Republican Party any longer, if they vote for this. Healthy people do not need prescription drugs. Sick people end up on 12 different drugs, because one causes another problem, then another, and it eventually kills us. I do NOT want the FDA involved at all with the natural supplements that saved my Father’s life, and that I take instead of drugs. I have a pharmacology book that tells which nutrients are taken out of the body with every drug. Without our freedom to choose, they will destroy our health. The FDA is a corrupt system that lets the pharmaceutical industry kill us off. I know this for a fact! I have the documentation. I want the choice to choose what is good for my body, and I can tell which supplements work best for my body. The FDA system is broken, and I sure do not want our country to end up like Europe, where they dictate such a small amount of supplements that are allowed, and it would never do any good for anyone’s body. John McCain is wrong, and I ask you to please inform the Tea Party Movement of this action. The pharmaceutical companies are killing us. That should be their focus on protecting us from the pharmaceutical industry killing us, but they are actually given more money to experiment on us. There are a few drugs on the market that are life saving, and the rest are killing us. I believe that John McCain is in bed with the pharmaceutical industry that is never held accountable for any of the deaths they cause. To attack our freedom on what supplements we can take will harm us all. I have much more information. I have downloaded a lot information and have done a lot of research regarding the pharmaceutical companies. I have an enormous amount of information, and a lot of it comes right off the FDA Website, pharmacology websites, the US Patent Office, etc. I know that John McCain may have stocks into these killing companies, because of what I have read on the internet, but I would never want to make money off the death and suffering of others. Please ask everyone you know to get involved and sign the petition, because to lose any freedom that may save or extend our life is a travesty. Our freedoms are continuously be threatened, and we need to fight back. We need to take a stand for what is right.

  • Kay Chesnutt

    I have used dietary supplements for many years, my health is better than it has ever been. I have lost 82 pounds healthly with the aid of supplements. I have had fewer infections and over all have maintained a healthier life style with the aid of supplements. I believe John McCain is being supplemented financially for his endorsement from major drug companies who feel threatened by the use of dietary supplements in our society and if we don’t stop them now they are going to be out next bank scam. Please do not let these companies and McCain pass these bills through.

  • Greetings, All my fellows striving for Life & Truth!
    Big Med/Merck/Monsanto, etc, and their Govt. Cohorts will never stop using our taxpayers dollars to persecute WE the People, to force their Corporate Greed/Big Med Products & Services upon us all, and to get away with poisoning our foods and environments, at our entire expense, whatever it takes, wherever they are, whenever they exist. This is nothing new “under the sun.”
    The European Coalition and it’s Mega-Marketers, have always thus persecuted individual herbalists and COMPETITIVE MARKETS. Still, they are attempting to steal our flourishing Market of Big Nature, by buying polititians wholesale/cheap, and legislating their Illegal and Facist, corporate dictates, which are simply tactics to that end, and have nothing to do with Life & Truth.
    These Fascists will take everything we have, using our money to do so, to enslave and destroy, and force their virtueless Markets upon us, ridding themselves of all competition of other more virtuous and robust markets, if we continue to allow them to thus pursue their Fascism at our entire expense. THIS IS WHAT FASCISTS DO and always will do.
    We need to stop them by NOT PAYING OUR TAXES so they cannot use our money to criminalize markets and non-criminal activities, and we need to BOYCOTT PAYING TAXES, ALL AT ONCE,
    AND BY NOT VOTING, ALL AT THE SAME TIME, then and then only will they will knuckle under, to be sure. We need SOLIDARITY in the face of these New World Fascists, or say ByeBye to our Freedom and Self Sufficiency!
    I can safely promise you all, even if they do succeed, it will only be for a short time, because they will fail, inevitably, and I hope all of you will not go down, with them and their NWO. They will fail because they have no substance and their products have no virtue or value.
    take care! StarNet.

  • I am 51.6 years old and in very good health. Except for a few minor sports injuries, I’ve not needed any medical attention for the previous 33 years! Why is this? Because I take supplements! I don’t need a politician telling me that I can’t take supplements in the potencies I wish, especially when such supplements have been proven time after time to be amazingly safe. The NIH reports the total deaths from supplements in 2008 to be (ready for this…) ZERO. Compare this with the “Death by Medicine” report (by Gary Null and associates) that found 784,000 from prescription drugs and other legal techniques (in approximately year 2,000). There is no doubt it’s higher now. Zero versus three quarters of a million–which is higher? Which deserves greater scrutiny? It’s highly disingenuous that Senator McCain is targeting dietary supplements. I hope he has the good sense to withdraw his support for this terrible bill.
    Also, I’m a nutritionist and my patients depend upon safe dietary supplements to get healthy!

  • Phyllis

    Buy a plot of land folks, and string the fences high. We are much too rapidly moving toward total control of our lives by corrupt politicians bought and paid for by greedy coroporations. Brave New World is rapidly approaching.

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