By James J. Gormley
1. No phase-in period or “effective date”. Since legitimate dietary supplement companies and health-food stores would not have even one day to come into compliance with the new law, they would effectively be breaking the law the day after S. 3002 is passed.
2. Registration of supplement licensors. S. 3002 would require outfits that license dietary supplements to register their “facilities” under the FDA Food Facility program established by the Bioterrorism Act of 2002. Including these requirements would go against the purposes of the Bioterrorism Act and would serve no useful purpose other than creating more bureaucracy and red tape.
3. Registration of health-food stores. S. 3002 is unclear as to whether the current retailer exception to the Bioterrorism Act registration requirement is intended to be honored for supplement retailers.
4. Product and ingredient registration. The product/ingredient registration process included in S. 3002 is unclear in its use of the terms “ingredients” and “labeling.” As worded, S. 3002 would apparently require duplicate, therefore unnecessary, registration of every product at every point in its distribution! This would be an incredible burden, one that would mandate annual updates, and one that would not protect any proprietary information that is not required on product labels but that that may be required to be submitted in the registration process.
5. Replacement of new dietary ingredient (NDI) requirements with an FDA positive list. FDA received information between 1996 and 1998 from dietary supplement trade associations to record ingredients believed to be marketed in the U.S. prior to the passage of DSHEA. If there is any lack of clarity as to what dietary ingredients are “old,” the agency should initiate rulemaking to formally adopt the ingredients directly submitted by the trade associations.
6. Retailer evidence of compliance. The bill’s proposal to require health-food stores to obtain evidence of compliance with product registration and NDI notifications is would be ridiculously burdensome and something that is not required for other regulated goods.
7. Civil penalties. The bill would establish new, unnecessary civil penalties despite the fact that current law already imposes adequate fines and penalties for violations of the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act.
8. Non-serious adverse event reports. The FDA itself has made it clear that it would not be helpful for the agency to receive boatloads of minor or trivial (and probably not substantiated) adverse event reports associated with dietary supplements. Under current law, dietary supplement companies are already required to maintain records of all adverse event reports for 6 years and the FDA has the authority to inspect these records at any time.
9. FDA recall and “cease distribution” authority. S. 3002, as well as other food safety legislation already introduced in the 111th Congress (such as S. 510), would provide FDA with authority to mandate products recalls when health risks are presented by marketed products, which is fine. However, what is not fine is that S. 3002 would obligate the agency to issue a “cease distribution” order for any supplement identified as adulterated or misbranded, even in the absence of any perceived health risk.