Congress bills challenge FDA and FTC power

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Dietary supplement, Ftc

Three bills have been introduced to Congress by Republican House of Representatives member, Ron Paul, that seek to limit how the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforce health claims and police health information.

The three bills have been written by Jonathan W Emord of Virginia-based law firm, Emord & Associates, PC, and seek to, as Emord said in a statement, restore constitutional government; end FDA censorship of health claims; and end FTC censorship of health information.”

Two of the bills (the Freedom of Health Speech Act – HR 3394) and the Health Freedom Act – HR 3395) seek to dramatically increase the standard of evidence required for the FDA and the FTC to initiate investigations and prosecutions against claims and information perceived by them to be misleading or false.

These bills seek to prevent the agencies from taking any action unless they possess “clear and convincing” ​evidence of false statements.

The third bill (Congressional Responsibility Act – HR 3396) seeks to prevent any regulatory changes that might emanate from within the agencies without also passing through Congress.


How much momentum the bills are likely to gain is unclear with confirmed Congressional support limited to just one other Republican Congressman to date – Dan Burton from Indiana, on bills 3394 and 3395.

“Congressmen Paul, who is a medical doctor, has introduced similar legislation in the past which has failed to gain traction, and in these times the chances seem even less likely,”​ said Ivan Wasserman, partner at Washington, DC-based legal firm, Manatt Phelps & Phillips.

Dan Fabricant, the interim executive director and CEO at the Natural Products Association (NPA), said the bills would struggle to gain visibility.

“With all that is going on right now with health care reform, food safety and, potentially, climate issues down the road, I would speculate that these proposals will not receive much attention,”​ Fabricant told

Marc Ullman, food and supplement attorney with New York-based Ullman, Shapiro & Ullman, agreed the bills would struggle to make much progress through the legislature, but said the ideas that underwrite them should not be dismissed out-of-hand.

“Republican Paul has been a long time friend of the dietary supplement industry and supporter of health freedom,”​ he said. “These bills contain many excellent concepts. Unfortunately, it does not seem likely that any of them have a chance of becoming law at this time. Nevertheless it is important that these ideas remain a subject of discussion and that the concepts embodied in these bills remain a subject of public debate.”

Emord said his firm would be mounting an action against the FDA over its treatment of qualified selenium health claims this week.

Related topics: Regulation, Product claims

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