McCain bill would force labeling of supplements

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.