In a recent statement, Jarrow Rogovin, founder and president of Jarrow Formulas, said that the NY Attorney General’s probe into herbal supplements shows a political agenda: “The NY AG wanted to provide support for two politicians in his state – NY State Senator Ken La Valle and NY Assemblyman Felix Ortiz – who each had introduced an anti-supplement bill to impose far more strenuous requirements on the industry in the form of a dietary supplement food safety committee.”
But is there evidence to support these allegations?
Susan Brienza, Esq, from the Ryley, Carlock and Applewhite law firm and counsel for Jarrow Formulas, told us that the anti-supplement political agenda of the NY AG is more than merely connecting the dots.
Brienza noted that, in a February 3 article from Bloomberg Law by Christie Smythe about the cease and desist letters sent to the four retailers, there are quotations from both La Valle and Ortiz that refer back to the AG’s ‘results'. “Then they go on to state that FDA needs tighter oversight over supplements, etc.,” said Brienza. “The logic and the connection is quite clear. Also, their anti-supplement bills had been introduced earlier.”
Ortiz and LaValle have both sponsored legislation to create a dietary food supplements safety committee, according to the Bloomberg Law article. Both are quoted praising AG Schneiderman's effort.
“This makes it very clear that there is an agenda in NY regarding the Senator and Assemblyman both sponsoring ‘supplement safety’ legislation,” said Brienza.
“In addition, about a week ago there was a press release from the FTC regarding AG Schneiderman partnering with the Commission on a false advertising enforcement action in NY,” she added. This was not specific to supplements, she noted, but it does show that this NY AG wants to help with federal regulatory enforcement.
“These actions also prompt the not far-fetched speculation that AG Schneiderman wants added visibility to run for governor of NY in the future,” added Brienza.
A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office declined to comment on the statements.
Statements at the budget hearing for the FDA
Moving from the state to the federal level, there was also an exchange between anti-supplement Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg during a recent House Committee on Appropriations budget hearing with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said Scott Polisky, another attorney who has consulted with Jarrow Formulas for years..
According to the March 4, 2015 NPA Wednesday Digest: “Earlier today the House Committee on Appropriations held a budget hearing with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). At the hearing, Ranking Member Nita Lowey, D-NY, stated her concern with labeling on dietary supplements, given that they are not subject to the same evaluation process as drugs. Rep. Lowey proceeded to reference NY AG Eric Schneiderman’s investigation and also voiced concern about allergens not listed on labels. She then then proceeded to ask FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg if she believed that supplements should be evaluated at a higher standard.
“While the commissioner did not state that she felt the industry needed a higher standard of review, she did say that the agency needed to work together with the “responsible players” in the industry to ensure an even higher level of quality, and that at the present time the FDA does not have the authority or resources for a pre-market review process, but that if Congress felt it necessary, then it would be something that it could decide upon.”
Rogovin added: “The widespread and damaging media coverage of this politically driven and reckless action along with the overwhelming number of class action lawsuits necessitates a swift and unambiguous retraction by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, his resignation, and followed by state bar disciplinary action.
“It’s not only the original false information that justifies professional discipline. It’s that he doubled down when he knew he was wrong; and that constitutes abuse of power and malice.”