Is USADA’s ‘Supplement Safety Now’ Campaign a Threat to the DSHEA?

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) unveiled a new program on December 7 aimed at curbing all-too-frequent practice of lacing dietary supplements with steroids. 



The mission of USADA’s “Supplement Safety Now” campaign is to urge Congress to establish a regulatory framework that ensures all supplements sold over-the-counter, in retail stores and online are safe and effective.

The campaign encourages consumers to write their local congressman a letter that urges the legislators to alter the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). In a sample letter framework that is provided on the supplementsafetynow.com website, the authors seem to imply that manufacturers ought to first gain premarket approval on their products: “The current regulatory framework does not require supplement companies to prove that their products are safe and effective prior to going to market, and as a result, Americans are consuming dangerous drugs without knowing it,” USADA officials wrote.

USADA has a number of partners in its initiative. The National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, the U.S. Olympic Committee and other national sports and health organizations have all signed on and voiced their support for the campaign. “The NFL enthusiastically supports this initiative for Congressional action to address this insidious and very serious threat to the health of the American public,” said Adolpho A. Birch III, Vice President of Law and Labor Policy for the National Football League on the Supplement Safety Now website.

Reaction from the industry has been mixed. Some see the campaign as a threat to the supplement industry, while others welcome it as a means to weed-out problem manufacturers. “Many industry veterans see only another attack on DSHEA, and to be correct, the group still recognizes what it sees as failings in DSHEA, but also recognizes that the companies involved are largely rogue and there are legislative loopholes and gray areas that are the main issue and problem,” said Len Monheit, president of NPI Center and director of the New Hope Natural Media Supply Portfolio.

“What I got from my dialogue [with USADA] was their commitment, but also a willingness to work to see these issues and frustrations—many of which they actually share with legitimate industry—resolved through minor practice change and serious enforcement change, rather than the legislative overhaul that many fear,” said Monheit.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) has expressed its support for the campaign, though not without reservations. “It is important to reiterate that laws are only as good as the regulatory agency's determination and ability to enforce them,” said President and CEO Steve Mister. “While CRN supports a registry of products with FDA, we do not believe that companies that are illegally contaminating products would bother to register. We believe that the best way to catch these offenders is to give the Drug Enforcement Administration and FDA more resources to enforce the laws already in place and to show these criminals that there are penalties to breaking the law.”

Related NBJ Links:
Industry Calls for Greater DSHEA Enforcement, Not New Legislation
Earning Trust of Olympic Athletes, Trainers Fuels Sales for COLD-FX
Elite Athletes Eschew Dietary Supplements Over Fears of Contamination

Related Functional Ingredient magazine Links:
Anti-Doping Agency Takes Aim at DSHEA

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