Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Restore Free Speech for Dietary Supplement Industry

Many savvy consumers these days ignore the slick and expensive advertising campaigns that routinely misrepresent or stretch the truth about products or services touted on TV, radio, and the Internet. More often, it’s an anecdote or testimonial from a family member or friend about a particular product, service, or experience that influences a consumer’s choice.

There is certainly nothing wrong ethically and morally with relating stories about one’s experiences with foods and dietary supplements. Currently the government prohibits sellers and supplement producers from publicizing individual consumer testimonials about health improvements resulting from the use of certain foods or dietary supplements, viewing them as marketing violations that render nutritional supplements as drugs, with strict enforcement.

Example: In April 2011, federal agents raided Maxam Nutraceutics, a company that produces and sells nutritional supplements, even though Maxam complied with the FDA’s demands to a T. The FDA first issued a warning letter months earlier about certain posted testimonials, giving the company 15 days to delete the info. That was done, and every effort made under a hired attorney’s advice to satisfy the government agency. Still the FDA conducted a full-scale raid with almost 80 armed agents at the company’s headquarters, and the owner’s daughter’s home, confiscating everything in sight, from computers to paperwork, products to personal items including the owner’s private invention.

To counter such blatant tyrannical actions, the Testimonial Free Speech Act (H.R. 2908) was recently introduced by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). The intent of the proposed measure is a small step toward restoring free speech for those who wish to pass on their nutritional success stories. This bill would get the FDA out of the business of monitoring health testimonials. House Resolution 2908 would allow the communication of a consumer’s “actual perception of the mitigative, preventive, or curative properties of any food or dietary supplement.” Upon introduction Congressman Paul had this to say: “The necessity for this bill shows how little respect the federal bureaucracy has for the Bill of Rights and the principles of a free society.”

Not only is the FDA’s activity destroying the nutritional industry with its policy that assumes only drugs cure or treat disease, while claims of health improvement due to nutritional supplements are deemed misbranding and unscientific, it also tramples the right of free speech guaranteed under the First Amendment.

Pressure your congressmen into cosponsoring and passing H.R. 2908; send them a message now. This legislation is the only way to curtail the FDA’s unjust and heavy-handed intrusion into private businesses and personal health care discussions. Consumers should be free to exchange ideas, information, and testimonials and anecdotes on any subject, especially those that relate to health in order to reach rational conclusions. And businesses should be free to post those stories alongside their products as a service to their customers, and reap the economic benefits in the process. Anything less is completely un-American in a land once dedicated to the principles of liberty.


Your friends at The John Birch Society

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