Industry leaders are criticizing the Institute of Medicine's calls for changes in standards for dietary supplements, outlined in the IOM's 327-page report released last week. The report, produced at the request of National Institutes of Health and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, reviewed the use of complementary and alternative medicine in the United States to help the NIH develop new research methods and prioritize its evaluation of alternative or complementary medicine products. Supplements industry leaders claim the report was flawed and its criticisms of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act are unwarranted.
The report calls for amendments to DSHEA to implement quality-control standards and enforce more accurate labeling and disclosures and other consumer protections.
"It ought to be an embarrassment to the Institute of Medicine," said Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association. "(The report) is riddled with errors."
McGuffin said the report's calls for enforcement against false claims and for more accuracy in labeling are needless, because those requirements are already in place under the current law.
The only redeeming part of the document, said McGuffin, was perhaps the call to create incentives for privately funded research on the effectiveness of products and brands and how consumers use them. But McGuffin questioned how realistic that plea is. "How would you ask Congress to write that?" he asked.
McGuffin said the document should be withdrawn, saying it looks like a waste of taxpayers' money. Annette Dickinson, president of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, said in a release, "The dietary supplement chapter is an unwarranted hatchet job."
Dickinson said the report paid no attention to the quality assurance and manufacturing controls that are typical of leading companies in the industry.
Calling for continued attention to implementing and enforcing the law, Dickinson said, "DSHEA works when its full power is properly recognized and utilized, as the Food and Drug Administration has demonstrated in the past few years."
The Institute of Medicine is a private, nonprofit institution that provides health policy advice under a congressional charter granted to the National Academy of Sciences.