Bill requires ingredients to be disclosed

Updated: February 4, 2010, 6:43 PM ET
Associated Press

PHOENIX -- Sen. John McCain has introduced legislation requiring manufacturers of dietary supplements to register with the Food and Drug Administration and to disclose the ingredients.

The Arizona Republican says that, if passed, the measure would give the FDA authority for a mandatory recall if a product is found to be unsafe.

"All we're saying is, list the ingredients, OK?" McCain told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday. "And register so people will know what they're taking into their bodies. It's not really outrageous when you think about it."

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig urged adoption of the bill, which is co-sponsored by North Dakota Democrat Byron Dorgan. Several athletes who have tested positive under various drug programs have blamed their troubles on unlabeled substances in dietary supplements.

McCain, an ardent sports fan, has long lamented steroid use in baseball.

He said his bill would protect professional and Olympic athletes as well as casual sports participants who turn to supplements to boost their performance.

"Obviously, it would affect everybody because they're so dangerous," McCain said. "We've had amateur athletes die. It's not as if it isn't dangerous."

McCain introduced the bill on Wednesday in Washington. Among those appearing with McCain were Kicker Vencill, an elite-level swimmer who missed the 2004 Olympic trials after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs when he took a tainted multivitamin. Vencill ended up winning damages through litigation against the supplement company, but it didn't overturn his suspension or save his chance at the Olympics.

McCain said the proposed legislation "appears to the casual observer as something that's a no-brainer," but he added that he expects heavy resistance from the dietary supplement industry.

McCain cited a Government Accountability Office report that says "FDA has limited information on the companies and products it is required to regulate, and more complete information could help FDA analyze adverse event reports."

The FDA also lacks mandatory recall authority. The proposed legislation would provide it.

McCain said his bill "absolutely" would have allowed the FDA to recall ephedra immediately when its adverse effects became known. Ephedra was linked to the deaths of Vikings lineman Korey Stringer and Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press