Monday, May 07, 2007

Bill Would Limit FTC, FDA Challenges to Dietary Supplement Marketing

This posting was written by Jeffrey May, editor of CCH Trade Regulation Reporter.

The Federal Trade Commissions (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could have a tougher time challenging health claims for foods and dietary supplements if the proposed Health Freedom Protection Act were to become law.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), sponsor of the legislation, said there is a need to stop “federal bureaucrats from preventing Americans from learning about simple ways to improve their health.” The proposal (H.R. 2117) was introduced on May 2 and referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

"False and Misleading" Standard

The proposed Health Freedom Protection Act would place the burden of proof on the FTC to establish that an advertisement for a dietary supplement or a dietary ingredient is “false and misleading and that the advertisement actually causes consumers to be misled into believing to be true that which is demonstrably false.”

The FTC has required “supplement manufactures to satisfy an unobtainable standard of proof that their statement is true,” according to Rep. Paul. “The FTC's standards are blocking innovation in the marketplace.” The bill also requires that the FTC warn parties that their advertising is false and give them a chance to correct their mistakes.

Censoring of "Truthful Claims"

“The Health Freedom Protection Act stops the FDA from censoring truthful claims about the curative, mitigative, or preventative effects of dietary supplements, and adopts the . . . use of disclaimers as an alternative to censorship,” Paul said. “The Health Freedom Protection Act also stops the FDA from prohibiting the distribution of scientific articles and publications regarding the role of nutrients in protecting against disease,” he added.

Text of the bill and status information appear on the Library of Congress Thomas site.

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