Instead of Overly Restrictive Rules, Can We Please Have More Useful Research and Education on Supplements from our Federal Agencies?

The New York Buyers’ Club Co-Op’s Treatment Director advocates for more useful research on supplements from the federal government, and shares his long expertise and personal experience in managing liver health with supplements:

Instead of Overly Restrictive Rules, Can We Please Have More Useful Research and Education on Supplements from our Federal Agencies?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released a proposed new rule, which many believe could unnecessarily restrict consumer access to supplements introduced after 1994. (Access to supplements on the market before 1994 is generally protected by the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act, passed that year.)

Perhaps the greatest concern is the form of vitamin B6 known as pyridoxal- 5′-phosphate or P5P. (Used for example, in the MAC-Pack, NYBC’s low-cost alternative to the K-PAX multivitamin/antioxidant combination for people with HIV.) There has been a concerted effort by pharmaceutical companies over the years to turn this vitamin into a drug, thus restricting access to it, and likely raising the price.

Overall, it is unclear what benefit the proposed new FDA rule would have for supplement users—if any. Certainly we believe there is much the FDA can do for consumers, including a robust program to test supplements for identity, potency and purity and broadcast the results quickly and widely. And, turning to the major health research agency of the federal government, we would welcome the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducting more clinical trials to assess benefits and limitations of supplements. This type of research can answer important clinical questions and truly help consumers.

I am living with hepatitis C and without health insurance, and have relied on diet, lifestyle changes and supplements—identified through years of personal research–to normalize my liver enzymes, slow disease progression and keep my viral load fairly low while I try to enroll in a clinical trial. * Why can’t our federal agencies promote more research on supplement combinations like the ones I have used and circulate useful knowledge about the results, rather than wasting resources on restricting access to widely used supplements like the form of vitamin B6 mentioned above?

George Carter

*You can find a pocket guide to my recommendations for using supplements for liver health in NYBC’s Summer 2010 Supplement Special Issue, 50+ Ways to Love Your Liver.

You can also find a library of other useful guides to using supplements to maintainn and improve your health at NYBC’s SUPPLEMENT Archive Page:

http://newyorkbuyersclub.org/supplement/index.html

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