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NY AG brings herbal supplement fight to Congress


NEW YORK —– As part of the latest salvo from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman of New York against the dietary supplement industry, Schneiderman announced Thursday he and Attorney General Greg Zoeller of Indiana today are leading a bipartisan group of 14 attorneys general calling on Congressional leaders to launch a comprehensive inquiry into the herbal supplements industry. The group has sent a letter asking for Congress to consider a more robust oversight role for the Food and Drug Administration with respect to herbal supplements. 


“It is unfortunate that the New York State Attorney General has spearheaded a request for Congress to spend taxpayers’ money to ‘launch a comprehensive congressional inquiry into the herbal supplements industry’ when the industry is already amply regulated on a federal level by FDA and FTC," charged Steve Mister, president and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition. "In fact, concerns raised in that letter about alleged widespread safety issues are not true, based on government’s post-market surveillance system which demonstrates relatively few safety issues for these products, particularly in comparison to other industries regulated by FDA."


Mister noted that the "serious concerns" raised by Schneiderman have been widely criticized not only by the supplements industry, but also critics of the herbal supplements industry and a number of journalists. 


"Despite these considerable doubts, the NY AG refuses to share his test results and methodology with FDA, with the media who continue to report on this story, with the companies implicated in those results, or even with the other state AGs he has persuaded to join in his campaign. In fact, an agreement between the NY AG and one of these companies earlier in the week explicitly stated that there were no issues with the herbal supplements being investigated, and because of this, the products were returned to the store shelves."


“Attorney General Schneiderman has admitted that the federal Good Manufacturing Practices currently in place for dietary supplements are sufficient, and companies such as GNC are in compliance with those, but yet he moves forward in his request to spend federal taxpayer dollars on an investigation into an industry that is fully regulated by the FDA," added Daniel Fabricant, CEO and executive director of the Natural Products Association. "The Natural Products Association regards this most recent action by Attorney General Schneiderman as added harassment based on science fiction. For the past two months, the attorney general has continued to escalate his attack on the supplement industry without any legitimate data to back up his arguments.


“My focus is on ensuring the best consumer protections for dietary and herbal supplements, and eliminating potential false or deceptive labeling that could be harmful to consumers,” said Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller. “My fellow attorneys general and I are urging Congress to consider stronger federal oversight of the herbal supplements industry so that members of the public have full information about a product they are ingesting.”


The letter to Congressional leaders is co-signed by Attorneys General George Jepsen, D-Conn.; Karl Racine, D-D.C.; David Louie, D-Hawaii; Lawrence Wasden, R-Idaho; Greg Zoeller, R-Ind.; Tom Miller, D-Iowa; Jack Conway, D-Ky.; Maura Healey, D-Mass.; Jim Hood, D-Miss.; Joseph Foster, D-N.H.; Joey San Nicolas, D-Northern Mariana Islands; Kathleen Kane, D-Pa.; and Peter Kilmartin, D-R.I. 


In February of 2015, Schneiderman asked major retailers to halt the sale of certain herbal supplements following DNA tests that failed to detect plant materials listed on the labels of the majority of products tested. Earlier this month, Schneiderman announced the formation of a multi-state coalition as part of an expanded probe of the herbal supplement industry.


Earlier this week Schneiderman announced a historic agreement with GNC to implement landmark reforms for herbal supplements. Under the agreement, GNC, one of the nation’s largest supplement retailers, will use DNA barcoding to authenticate plants used in supplements and adopt new testing standards to prevent contamination. 



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