Will Senator Orrin Hatch’s Retirement Leave the Supplement Industry Vulnerable to Attack?

Two Senators, Orrin Hatch and Tom Harkin, have played a pivotal role in protecting your right to purchase supplements without undue interference from the FDA. Together, they co-chaired the bipartisan Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus. This caucus has long served as a forum to educate legislators about nutritional supplements. 

Iowa Democrat Harkin did not seek reelection in 2014 after his fifth Senate term and now the Utah Republican Hatch is following suit after a 40-year run in the upper chamber of Congress. The retirement of Sen. Hatch has made news in part because of the length of his tenure in office and the supplement industry’s loss of a stalwart advocate. 

Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) outlined Sen. Hatch’s many major victories in the field of supplements and natural health. The most famous of these was the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA). This law made sure that supplements are safely and fully relegated but do not fall under the same onerous umbrella as more dangerous prescription drugs. 

Dietary supplements are big business and have proven to be tremendously safe. In the U.S. sales are expected to exceed nearly $36 billion in 2017, and nearly one-third of U.S. citizens take some form of a dietary supplement in a given month. Despite their enviable track record, there has been a long standing campaign to regulate supplements as drugs rather than food. This would vastly expand the scope of the FDA’s power and would change the face of the supplement market forever. 

Throughout his career, Hatch has successfully thwarted these machinations. Steve Mister, president and CEO of the CRN, spoke highly of Hatch.  “Of all of Sen. Hatch’s achievements, his commitment to the dietary supplement consumer will be celebrated most by this industry. Sen. Hatch has been a champion of dietary supplements to be sure, but his insistence on a commonsense approach to legislation and regulation has always managed to strike the important balance between safety and access in pursuit of promoting public health."

No matter where you stand on political issues in general, or Hatch and Harkin in particular, it is important to give due credit to this bipartisan duo who have steadfastly defended your access to natural and herbal remedies for decades. You may feel the current regulations of supplements are lacking in some way, but the alternatives they have successfully opposed would have been a disaster for your health freedom. 

The departure of both Hatch and Harkin leaves a dangerous void in an already volatile political climate. Sen. Martin Heidenreich, a New Mexico Democrat, replaced Harkin on the Dietary Supplement Caucus and Sen. Hatch’s successor will soon be known. They will have their work cut out for them. Dietary supplements are big business and there is no shortage of powerful enemies.

One long-standing opponent of the supplement industry is Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, who has worked with the likes of Paul Offit to grant the FDA even more power to regulate supplements. To date, 
Sen. Durbin’s efforts to suppress the nutritional supplements have failed in humiliating fashion. In 2013, he devised an underhanded strategy that attempted to link sugary caffeinated energy drinks and diet pills to safer natural products. It did not gain any traction, but the loss of two Senators who opposed his transparent gambit to expand the reach of the regulatory state may embolden him and his drug industry allies. 

It has never been more important to stay informed and empowered. 
Opponents of natural products and governmental agencies interested in increasing their authority have long relied on misinformation, distortion and propaganda to tar the reputation of natural products. No one can sit on the sideline during this fight. The DSHEA was a glorious victory over FDA tyranny in 1994, but nearly a quarter century has passed and the war has not been won. We cannot rest on our laurels. The vanguard of that fight has departed the arena and it is time for a new generation of champions to defend science and freedom.

Click Here and be the first to comment on this article
Post your comment