FDA's new commissioner could strenghten policy for industry

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Dietary supplement, Food and drug administration, Fda

A new FDA commissioner has been confirmed before the US Senate,
after serving as acting commissioner since the September 2005
resignation of the previous holder of the position.

FDA has not had permanent leadership for the majority of President George W. Bush's nearly six years in office. Andrew von Eschenbach, MD, was previously director of the National Cancer Institute and as FDA's acting commissioner he faced political hurdles that blocked his nomination.

The announcement could impact the dietary supplement industry, among others, as critics have accused the authority of not protecting consumers enough in cases such as that of the now-banned herbal ephedrine. Stronger FDA leadership could help iron out any potential policy gaps.

"Numerous dietary supplement issues are in need of FDA's attention and we expect to develop a fruitful relationship with FDA under its new leadership,"​ American Herbal Products Association president Michael McGuffin said in a statement.

A procedural vote opened the nomination, which resulted in an 80 to 11 approval of von Eschenbach after the process had been held up in Congress for nine months.

Ingredients not marketed in the US before October 1994 must be approved by the FDA before being used in consumer products. This is outlined in the legal framework that governs the dietary supplement industry: the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), which is part of the Food and Cosmetics Act.

Unlike pharmaceuticals, which must go through a series of pre-market approvals, finished dietary supplements need no pre-market approval.

Although the supplement industry upholds DSHEA is a good law, its detractors call for greater regulation. To avoid this, the industry has pushed for self-regulation and protection of its reputation against non-DSHEA compliant products - especially those being sold via the Internet.

Related topics: Regulation

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