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AHPA Makes ‘Key Distinction’ in Letter to Boston Globe

By Sean Moloughney | November 16, 2009

In response to a recent editorial, Michael McGuffin, president, American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) submitted a letter to the editor, which was published on Nov. 13.

Under the headline “Key Distinction on FDA, Supplements,” the Boston Globe published a letter to the editor from Michael McGuffin, president, American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) on Nov. 13, in response to the paper’s recent editorial, “Police These Pills and Powders.”

In its Nov. 2 editorial, the Globe opines that FDA lacks adequate power to regulate dietary supplements. “Under the current law,” the Globe writes, “the FDA can take action against manufacturers of supplements with harmful ingredients only after there are reports of bad reactions among users.”

“In fact,” Mr. McGuffin explains in his letter, “synthetic steroids are not allowed in supplements, and the FDA has issued 28 warning letters since 2004 against companies marketing such products. These actions were taken based not on adverse events, but on claims made on product labels and on FDA analyses.”

The Boston Globe editorial follows and references an Oct. 15 New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) opinion piece by Dr. Pieter Cohen, Harvard Medical School. The NEJM piece, like the Globe editorial, fails to distinguish between dietary supplements and illegal drugs, according to Mr. McGuffin, and alleges FDA does not have sufficient authority to regulate supplements. AHPA also submitted a letter to the editor of NEJM.

“Legally labeled dietary supplements are required to list every contained ingredient,” Mr. McGuffin concludes in his letter to the Boston Globe. “Any product that fails to do so is misbranded, and the FDA, under current law, can seize the product and issue warnings or bring criminal actions against its marketers.”

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