Supplement critic Rep. Waxman to retire after 40 years

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Supplement critic Rep. Waxman to retire after 40 years

Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013

Supplement critic Rep. Waxman to retire after 40 years

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA)

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), a long-standing and vocal critic of the supplement industry, announced yesterday that he will not seek reelection this November after serving 20 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. Rep. Waxman represents California's 33rd Congressional District located on the Southern California coast and including Beverly Hills, Malibu, Santa Monica and Venice.

For at least the past 20 years, Rep. Waxman has been considered by the supplement industry to be one of its most significant adversaries in the House. He actively opposed, and tried to convince his colleagues to oppose the earliest drafts of the legislation that eventually came to be the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA). In so doing he branded some supplements as "snake oil" and claimed that the industry was using "fear tactics" to get the law passed.

In the intervening years, Rep. Waxman has supported legislation that would have treated vitamin and mineral products differently than herbal supplements, placing greater regulatory burdens on the latter. Also, on more than one occasion he co-sponsored bills that would have required supplement manufacturers to register all of their products with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on a semi-annual basis -- a position that the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) has consistently opposed.

More recently, in his 2009 autobiographical book, "The Waxman Report: How Congress Really Works," Rep. Waxman dedicates half a chapter to criticizing DSHEA, which he identifies as a "legislative loss" and "the only smirch" on the Congressional effort that resulted in passage of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act in 1990. He closes the chapter with the opinion that in time "bad laws always reveal themselves," and comments that in Washington "no issue is ever settled for good."

"Congressman Waxman always presented himself as acting with the best of intentions in his ongoing efforts to amend DSHEA," commented AHPA president, Michael McGuffin. "But he has been out of touch with his supplement-using constituents for many years, and though he may be missed for his intelligence and experience, his unwillingness to accept that DSHEA is a good law will be his primary legacy in the supplement industry."