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Consumer Protection: Dietary Supplements, Antibiotics On Radar

by Britt E. Erickson
January 27, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 4

Deaths linked to the consumption of dietary supplements and caffeinated energy drinks prompted some members of Congress to push for more regulatory oversight of such products last year. If the trend continues, the Dietary Supplement Labeling Act (S. 1425) introduced last August by Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) could see movement this year.

S. 1425 would require companies to provide the Food & Drug Administration with information about each supplement they produce, including the name and a description of the product, a list of ingredients, and a copy of the product’s label. Durbin first introduced the Dietary Supplement Labeling Act in 2011.

From 2008 to 2011, FDA received more than 6,300 adverse-event reports for dietary supplements, according to a March 2013 report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress. The report also notes that poison centers received more reports of such adverse events than did FDA.

The growing threat of antibiotic resistance is also likely to get the attention of Congress this year. Animal producers and the animal drug industry are closely watching two bills introduced last year that aim to curb antibiotic resistance.

One of the bills, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (H.R. 1150), was introduced in the House of Representatives last March by Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-N.Y.). The other, the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance (PAR) Act (S. 1256), was introduced in the Senate last June by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

Both bills would require animal producers to show that antibiotics are used to treat diseases, not enhance the growth of livestock. FDA is hoping manufacturers of animal antibiotics will voluntarily change their drug labels to prohibit the use of medically important antibiotics for enhancing animal growth or improving feed efficiency. If companies fail to go along with FDA’s plan, Congress may try to pass legislation that would require them to do so.



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