State AGs ask Congress to crack down on dietary supplements.

  • Earlier this year, New York’s Attorney General (AG) launched a probe into the dietary supplement industry, targeting major retailers for marketing allegedly misbranded products.  One major retailer, GNC, entered into a landmark settlement agreement with the NY AG, committing to implement stringent controls throughout its supply chain and in production.
  • Continuing to expand its push into a traditional federal regulatory area, the NY AG and 13 other state AGs have sent a letter to members of Congress requesting an investigation of the herbal supplement industry.  The letter criticizes FDA, citing the Agency’s awareness of alleged problems in the dietary supplement supply chain and its implicit failure to take appropriate enforcement action.
  • The AG letter raises additional questions about the future roles of Congress, FDA, the states, and industry itself in the regulation of the dietary supplement industry.  The NY AG’s probe has been mired in controversy from the start due to its lack of transparency and complete reliance on DNA barcoding as the apparent “gold standard” for assuring the identity and purity of herbal ingredients, despite significant scientific criticisms of the methodology when applied to herbal ingredients.  It remains to be seen whether and how issues of science, law, policy, and regulation will be resolved in this matter, and how the dietary supplement industry will adapt and cope with the changes ahead.