But a recent statement by him, coupled with a raft of warning letters to supplement companies, signals that might change.
In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, capping an effort led by Senator Tom Harkin, also infamous for attempting to legitimize folk remedies by wasting our money on the The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and Senator Orrin Hatch, who just happened to have an alarming number of supplement companies in Utah. It gave supplement companies a free pass to suggest any vague benefit they wanted, as long as they included on the label “This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”
Green tea can't cure Alzheimer's, colostrum does not cure Autism
And FDA could not stop them, unless people started falling over or they made ridiculous marketing claims like that their tea will cure Alzheimer's. Even if there was actual harm caused by a tainted supplement FDA had the burden of proof to show it was the supplement and not a confounder. A lawyer at a supplement company could basically say 'these naturalistic hippies are taking 30 different products, you can't prove it was ours' and get away with it unless FDA had a number of samples showing products were adulterated with something harmful.
And that is the issue. Most often when supplements do anything - diagnosed medical conditions like Vitamin D deficiency aside - it is because it is an actual drug (e.g. kratom) exempt because of a regulatory loophole, or it has been adulterated with a real drug that was not listed as an ingredient.
Most of them time they do nothing, they are just fooling people and using a disclaimer to be exempt from accountability.
Giving alternatives to medicine a free pass has been a disaster
Without an FDA-exempt supplement law, there would be no osteopath Joe Mercola, there would be no Mike Adams Health Ranger, no Goop - heck, there might not even be an Organic Consumers Association, because giving spiritual beliefs about health a free pass directly led to people believing food is also medicine.
The supplements exemption may not go away, 1994 was a confluence of perfect events for the industry; we had a vaguely anti-science President (killed the Superconducting Super Collider, cut funding for NASA, let NIH drift, signed a law preventing funding for stem cell research) who would later make one of the Four Horsemen of the Alternative, Mark Hyman, famous, by simply listening to his advice to stop eating so many cheeseburgers but who claims it was alternative medicine.
Whose name appears frequently in claims made by supplement companies, including those who got a warning letter about fraud from FDA last week? That same Mark Hyman.
Undoing all of that without an equal confluence of perfect events will be a challenge. And if you read the Green New Deal produced in the House of Representatives last week, you know mysticism is here for at least the next two years, so no confluence of science acceptance in Congress is on the horizon.
Nor would they agree to it even if Congress did know that magic is not agriculture and energy science - because 25 years of marketing have worked. The 'we don't need to regulate this' implicit seal of approval from FDA has led to creating an entire American culture that uses the stuff. Nearly 75 percent of Americans throw down a supplement along with a third of kids. Advertising has convinced adults they are bad parents if they don't feed their kids a Flintstone vitamin.
Cayenne Pepper does not cure cancer, colloidal silver does not cure Guld War Syndrome
But perhaps its damage can be limited.
In sending warning letters to Earth Turns, LLC, TEK Naturals, John Gray’s Mars Venus LLC, Nutrition Coalition Inc, Blue Ridge Silver, Sovereign Laboratories, LLC, DK Vitamins, Peak Nootropics LLC (aka Advanced Nootropics), Gold Crown Natural Products, Emmbros Overseas Lifestyle PVT LTD., Capris Associates Inc. / BR Naturals, and Pure Nootropics, LLC, FDA is taking the opportunity to lay the groundwork for a fix of the supplements industry. And putting legitimate, if that can be a thing, hucksters on notice that if they don't call out bad actors, government will bring down a hammer on everyone.
Coenzyme Q will not prevent chronic fatigue syndrome either. In fact, if it sounds good to be true, and someone tries to tell you it's an ancient secret that Big Pharma just doesn't want you to know about, it's just nonsense.