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How DSHEA was really won

By James Gormley via www.thegormleyfiles.blogspot.com

DSHEA, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, is the law which protects our access to dietary supplements and to truthful information about them; it also provides for the quality and safety of supplements.

What led to the passage of this law was a historic grassroots and political battle, a struggle that actually had its roots in the early days of the modern health-food industry.

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA). This legislation was intended to improve nutritional information regarding health claims made for products. The FDA was given the job of implementing the law, but because of its broad wording, the agency began to capitalize on the opportunity to over-regulate safe and beneficial nutritional products.

We Cared About Numbers, Not People: Former CIGNA PR Chief Comes Clean

By Alison Rose Levy via The Integrative Health Outlook

“When you’re in the executive offices… you don’t think about individual people. You think about the numbers and whether or not you’re going to meet Wall Street’s expectations… That enables you to stay there, if you don’t really think that you’re talking about and dealing with real human beings, ” Wendell Potter, former head of Corporate Communications for health insurance giant told Bill Moyers in his recently aired program.

Potter, who voluntarily left a life of corporate jets and managing media information, got a wakeup call when he attended a so-called health fair on a trip back home to the South.

“What I saw were doctors who were set up to provide care in animal stalls. Or they’d erected tents, to care for people. I mean, there was no privacy. In some cases — and I’ve got some pictures of people being treated on gurneys, on rain-soaked pavement.

And I saw people lined up, standing in line or sitting in these long, long lines, waiting to get care. People drove from South Carolina and Georgia and Kentucky, Tennessee — all over the region, because they knew that this was being done. A lot of them heard about it from word of mouth.

There could have been people and probably were people that I had grown up with. They could have been people who grew up at the house down the road, in the house down the road from me. And that made it real to me.”

In his conversation with Moyers, Potter also revealed how health insurance PR execs sought to marginalize Michael Moore’s film Sicko, dissuade Democratic legislators from addressing the concerns the film raised about the quality of American health care and the uninsured, and defeat health reform under Clinton.

Currently, these same insurance PR folks are “working relentlessly to kill off efforts to include a public insurance plan in the health care bill. Although three quarters of Americans polled support a public option, the industry is spending more than 1.4 million dollars a day to make sure it doesn’t happen,” said Moyers.

In the show Porter details the kinds of messages that that daily dose of $1.4 million will buy, recounting in the past how the industry sought to discredit Moore by characterizing him as a “radical” and “Hollywood film-maker.”

WENDELL POTTER: They don’t want you to think that it was a documentary that had some truth. They would want you to see this as just some fantasy that a Hollywood filmmaker had come up with. That’s part of the strategy.

BILL MOYERS: So you would actually hear politicians mouth the talking points that had been circulated by the industry to discredit Michael Moore.

WENDELL POTTER: Absolutely.

The insurance industry’s “war on Sicko” reveals the kinds of tactics and disinformation in use now to discredit a public option in health insurance reform — and to line up Congressional support to defeat it.

Moyers asked about how the industry acts to influence Congress.

WENDELL POTTER: By running ads, commercials in your home district when you’re running for reelection, not contributing to your campaigns again, or contributing to your competitor.

Potter also addressed the underlying PR goals:

WENDELL POTTER: The industry has always tried to make Americans think that government-run systems are the worst thing that could possibly happen to them, that if you even consider that, you’re heading down on the slippery slope towards socialism. So they have used scare tactics for years and years and years, to keep that from happening

Watch the show here.
Read the transcript here.

For health science, information, and action, the get free Health Outlook at www.health-journalist.com

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Website that gives safety ratings for personal care products

Skin Deep

Through an interactive personal care product safety guide, “Skin Deep,” consumers can consult brand-by-brand safety ratings for more than 14,000 products. “Skin Deep” fills the information gap left by an industry that markets thousand of products with ingredients that have not been assessed for safety by either industry or government health experts. Those safety decisions are made behind closed doors, guided by an industry-funded panel, without the benefit of peer-reviewed pre-market testing. The industry’s own panel has screened only 11 percent of 10,500 ingredients for safety.

The searchable “Skin Deep” database features in-depth information on shampoos, lotions, deodorants, sunscreens and other products from almost 1,000 brands, built from a core of 37 toxicity and regulatory databases.

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Important Players in Congress

The following is list of congresspersons who have played a role in the regulation of natural health generally, and DSHEA in particular over the past few years. This list is certainly not exhaustive. We encourage you to research individual congresspersons and candidates at www.yourcadidatesyourhealth.org to see if particular candidates have taken clear positions on natural health issues.

House Reps:

Dan Burton

Rep. Burton (R-IN) is widely considered a strong supporter of dietary supplements and natural healthcare, generally. He is a member of Congress’ Dietary Supplement Caucus and the Complementary & Alternative Medicine Caucus. In 2001, he chaired a committee hearing titled “Six Years After DSHEA,” in which he stated, “My colleagues in Congress and I will continue to protect Americans’ rights to access dietary supplements.”

Peter DeFazio

Rep. DeFazio (D-OR) is a strong supporter of dietary supplements and natural healthcare. He is a member of Congress’ Dietary Supplement Caucus and the Complementary & Alternative Medicine Caucus. Along with Rep. Ron Paul, DeFazio submitted a joint statement to Rep. Burton’s “Six Years After DSHEA” committee in 2002, strongly supporting DSHEA and the rights of consumers to access dietary supplements without FDA interference. He was one of the prime sponsors of the original Access to Medical Treatment Act, which if passed, would have given consumers greater access to health care practitioners of their choice.

John Dingell

Rep. Dingell (D-MI) is no fan of DSHEA as presently written and implemented. He has sponsored unsuccessful legislation over the past several years that, if passed, would have repealed major pieces of DSHEA, and that would have granted the FDA greater authority over dietary supplements. He has been quoted in numerous sources as saying about DSHEA, “I would like to repeal the whole sorry mess.”

Dennis Kucinich

Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) is a member of the Dietary Supplement Caucus, and was prime sponsor of legislation that would require mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods.

Ron Paul

Rep. Paul (R-TX) is a well-known supporter of health freedom. He has been the prime sponsor of the Health Freedom Protection Bill (H.R. 2117), which would give dietary supplement manufacturers the ability to make broader claims about the helpful, curative effects of their products.

Edolphus Towns

Rep. Towns (D-NY) is a member of the Dietary Supplement Caucus, and the prime sponsor of H.R. 1107, which would allow certain dietary supplements to qualify for reimbursement under IRS rules pertaining to Health Spending Accounts and Flex Spending Accounts.

Henry Waxman

Rep. Waxman (D-CA) co-sponsored with Rep. Dingell legislation that, if passed, would have gutted major portions of DSHEA and given the FDA significantly greater authority over dietary supplements. He has been critical of the dietary supplement industry in sub-committee hearings on DSHEA.

Senators:

Richard Durbin

When it comes to natural health and DSHEA, there may be no one more important and controversial in Washington, D.C. than Sen. Durbin (D-IL). Durbin has co-sponsored a number of DSHEA-revisions, including the Adverse Event Reporting bill that became law in 2006. He has made critical remarks in perhaps every hearing on DSHEA that’s been held in the past 8 years. He is largely credited or blamed as one of the driving forces behind the Adverse Event Reporting law.

Some of the quotes attributed to Sen. Durbin about DSHEA include the following:

• “[The] FDA has fallen down on the job. [Regardless] increasing surveillance under the existing law is unlikely to occur.”

• “We need to make a couple of critical changes in DSHEA.” [referring to mandatory adverse event reporting and some form of pre-market approval].

In fairness to Sen. Durbin, the focus of his hostility toward dietary supplements has been largely on stimulants and steroids. In his comments leading up to the AER law, he said this: “[A]ll I would ask in my bill would be that supplements which cause an adverse effect would be reported to the government. We preserve the DSHEA assumption that supplements are safe, except for steroids and stimulants.”

It is likely that Sen. Durbin’s influence will increase in an Obama administration.

Tom Harkin

Sen. Harkin (D-IA) has been a long-time proponent of natural health, dietary supplements and DSHEA. He is a member of the Dietary Supplement Caucus, and is credited with resurrecting DSHEA from possible repeal and other emasculating revisions. He was co-sponsor of S. 770, which would allow dietary supplements to be purchased with food stamps.

Orin Hatch

Sen. Hatch (R-UT) has been a long-time proponent of natural health, dietary supplements and DSHEA. He is a member of the Dietary Supplement Caucus. Along with Sen. Harkin, he is credited with resurrecting DSHEA from possible repeal and other emasculating revisions. Also along with Sen. Harkin, he has co-sponsored S. 770, which would allow dietary supplements to be purchased with food stamps.

To the extent that Sen. Hatch has been concerned about implementation of DSHEA, he has been focused on the FDA’s failure to properly implement the law, rather than any failure of the law itself.

Ted Kennedy

Sen. Kennedy (D-MA) was the prime sponsor of S. 1082, which passed the Senate in 2007, but has yet to make its way to the House. This bill represents one of the most sweeping pieces of legislation to affect the FDA in years. It includes provisions that would relax restrictions on the importation of drugs from overseas. The bill as passed by the Senate should not affect DSHEA; however, it would give the FDA significantly greater authority over foods and drugs generally.

Sen. Kennedy is also the Chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee. It’s been reported that just a month ago, he chaired a videoconference in which he called for an overhaul of the nation’s healthcare system. His health may also be an issue to watch. If he’s unable to continue as Chair of HELP, we will want to take note of who his replacement will be.

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GAO Report on Supplements

We predicted late last year before, during and after the election that 2009 would begin a time of change and challenge for dietary supplements. It looks like the first shoe has dropped: The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) presented a report to Congress last week, titled Dietary Supplements: FDA Should Take Further Action to Improve Oversight and Consumer Understanding.

A link to the full 70+ page report appears at the end of this article. Here are a few highlights:

Protecting Your Individual Health Freedoms Radio Broadcast

Statue of Liberty

In this increasingly complex world of regulations, environmental contamination, and special interests vying for control of your medical privacy and access to complementary/alternative healthcare practices, fortunes are in play and your basic human right to health is being challenged. Advocates have described the wellness arena as follows, “Medicine is a science, healing is an art, and healthcare is a business”. Today, hosts Dr. Meg Jordan and Terry Moore will discuss exactly what’s at stake here in the United States, and how alarming regulatory trends around the world and special interests are jeopardizing your Constitutional rights and your ability to live a long and healthy life. Today’s guests will be James Turner, a renowned regulatory, environmental and product safety attorney who has appeared before every major consumer regulatory agency, including the Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Consumer Product Safety Commission and Federal Trade Commission, as well as the Department of Agriculture and the National Institutes of Health. Jim will be joined by Michael McCormack, the President of Citizens For Health and an accomplished litigation attorney and counselor focusing on emerging health law matters, including regulation and advocacy.

Click here to listen to radio broadcast.

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Americans Urge Agency to Adopt a Mandatory Ban on Untested, Cloned Food

Cloned Meat

This following release is from several years ago but remains a vitally important issue that consumers must continue to fight.

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Washington, May 3, 2007 – A coalition of consumer, environmental, and animal welfare organizations today announced the submission of more than 130,000 comments to the Food and Drug Administration from consumers who oppose the Agency’s proposed plan to introduce food from cloned animals into the U.S. food supply.

Citizens for Health, the Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union, Food and Water Watch, The Humane Society of the United States, the American Anti-Vivisection Society, the Consumer Federation of America and the Organic Consumers Association joined together to send a strong, unified message to the FDA that the public opposes the introduction of cloned animals in food. Today was the last day of a public comment period that began in January in response to the FDA’s proposal to allow products from cloned animals into the food supply. Members of the meat and dairy industries and several nonprofit organizations urged the Agency to take time to consider comments from the widest possible sample of Americans in consideration of the untested nature of cloning technology.

Petition the FDA for more health information labeling

Currently, food manufacturers are prohibited from labeling their products with accurate health-related information without being subjected to a lengthy and expensive FDA review. In a recent court case, the judiciary agreed with natural health consumers and ruled that the FDA’s approval process is unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds. In response, the FDA has announced the opening of a comment period to guage public opinion on the subject of qualified health claims. This is our opportunity to help expand public knowledge and wisdom regarding natural health products like foods, vitamins, herbs, and minerals. Don’t delay, click here to register your comment today.

Comprehensive Homeopathy Fact Sheet

By Timothy Fior, M.D., A.B.F.P., D.Ht.

1. What is homeopathy?

Homeopathy is an over 200 year old system of medical therapy and prevention that is based on the knowledge and application of medicines contained in the U.S. FDA-recognized Homeopathic Pharmacopœia of the United States. It is a scientific therapeutic method that embodies a philosophy of understanding people and illness in a holistic context with the goal of promoting optimal health and healing.

Homeopathic medicines are applied on the basis of the law of similars. The truth of this law has been verified experimentally and clinically for the last 200 years. While German physician Samuel Hahnemann codified this principle in 1796 into a system of medicine that he called homeopathy, from the Greek, omoiou (like) and pathos (disease), the observation of this principle dates to Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.). Resolution of an illness occurs when the sick individual is given a small dose of a medicine capable of producing similar symptoms in a healthy prover. Besides using the law of similars and the minimum necessary dose, homeopathy also uses the principle of using one medicine at a time. With homeopathic care, an individual’s susceptibility to acute or chronic disease is lessened and health is restored. In homeopathy, health is viewed as a state of physical, mental, emotional and social balance or equilibrium and not merely the absence of disease or pathologic signs and symptoms.

Homeopathy is a medical specialty that is practiced by several hundred MDs and DOs in the United States. There is a separate board certification for MDs and DOs who practice homeopathy, which is called the D.Ht. (Diplomate in Homeotherapeutics).

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