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Small Dietary Supplements Manufacturers Battle the Food and Drug Administration Part Three

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The Food and Drug Administration has directly damaged small manufacturers of dietary supplements in favor of equally damaging substances of historical significance to the country.

Benninger wrote that perhaps the most influential factor on the supplements production futures is that Republican Henry Waxman will no longer be Chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. This committee often steps into the arena and makes decisions on nutritional supplements. This Democratic leader from California was a firm believer in banning steroid based supplements and was trying to get regulation changes put into place (Benninger). This change of power and control may affect the future growth or repulsion of supplemental production for steroids and similar compounds.

There are certainly reasons for the bans of steroids that have scientific basis. In his book Steroid Nation, Shaun Assael describes the habits and addictions associated with steroids that create a “dirty diet” that has short and long term consequences (Assael, 18). In 1984 a $30,000 bust at Gold’s Gym in Detroit led to an underground ring tracing back to Montreal and a provider for the Olympic Games that resulted in the loss of medals for several international athletes. The code violated was introduced in 1938 as the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Further codes and announcements have been made that have imposed a significant barrier to entry for new companies looking to market new products. Even a company producing a product with no banned ingredients has to be very carefully about the way they present their products and testimonials because of tight supervision and many restrictions. This has created an unfair playing field for new companies to get into the market and become successful. While favorite vices alcohol and tobacco raise millions of dollars in taxes and fees, supplements get scapegoated as harmful and are restricted from competing in a market full of natural remedies and vitamins.

The comparable and ethical issue of banning steroids is that destructive forces like alcohol and tobacco have wreaked progressive havoc and still remain lucrative and legal in the United States. While cigarette smoking has declined greatly, millions still decide to drink and smoke everyday. According to researcher Steven Maisto, people have proven long ago that just knowing something is dangerous is not enough to keep people away from using it (124). Maisto reminds readers that the federal government administers great trouble and cost to prevent the use of illicit drugs and substances while alcohol and tobacco are permitted and taxed. It is also interesting to note that attitudes towards alcohol and tobacco follow suit and are largely more acceptable than that if illegal drugs.

The lines or federal regulations are sometimes defined by a feeling of what is good and harmful to society as a whole. An issue that has arisen in public debate is the struggle of power to control the meaning of what is and is not harmful. Whose definition is fit to dictate to society? If some Senators like Charles Schumer of New York have their way, further bands will be issued (LA Times). Potential bans will continue to reduce the amount of supplements that can be produced and the ingredients that may be included.

There is certainly an importance to an FDA that protects the public from scientifically proven threats. There is some aspect of safety and security to knowing that a food product or supplement has been evaluated to some level of standards and quality assurance. According to James Summers, there is a balance between consumer protection and the restriction of product availability (24). There needs to be an official policy on what is and is not safe so that new companies can have rigid but firm guidelines to develop and produce within. Changing margins of what is and is not allowed makes continued production of new supplements shaky and unstable. A certified list of safe ingredients would also let the potential consumer to reduce stigma and understand the affects of the supplements that purchase and consume. Simply shutting down more and more producers is no way to grow a market, even in a small segment as workout supplements.

The moral aspects of legal and illegal also tie in to public opinion which influence which issues and topics that elected officials are likely to represent in their decision making. The important factor to consider on the issue of drugs is that the economic side of the issue should remain independent and need to be analyzed in terms of jobs and fairness of what is supposed to be an open market for competition, and is a factor all too easily overlooked when bans of continuous workout supplements continue to be put into place.


Assael, Shaun. Steroid Nation. New York: ESPN Books, 2007.

Benninger, Jon. How The Election Affects your Industry. October 29th, 2010. http://www.naturalproductsinsider.com/blogs/jon/2010/11/how-the-election-affects-your-industry.aspx

Fogione, Mary. So Long to Caffeinated Alcoholic Beverages? LA Times. 11/16/10

Food and Drug Administration Website. 7/28/09 .http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/DrugSafetyInformationforHeathcareProfessionals/PublicHealthAdvisories/ucm173935.htm

Maiston, Steven. Drug Use and Abuse. London: Wadsworth, 2010.

Summers, James. Dietary Supplement Labeling Compliance Review. Wiley-Blackwell: 2004.

Quinn, Elizabeth. FDA Bands Designer Steroid THG http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/drugs_doping/a/aa110203a.htm



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Danny Hauger

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