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Chaffetz says dietary supplement makers should be able to cite studies

WASHINGTON — Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, wants Congress to allow dietary supplement makers to quote scientific studies about the health benefits of their products.

Under current regulations, if the manufacturers do that now, the Food and Drug Administration may declare the supplements as unapproved drugs. The FDA requires extensive, closely reviewed trials for drugs that it approves for marketing.

Chaffetz on Tuesday introduced his Free Speech About Science Act that he said would help ensure that families have "access to legitimate scientific research to make decisions to improve their personal health."

Chaffetz's district is one of the biggest producers of dietary supplements in the country, with such companies as Nu Skin, Usana, MonaVie, Xango and Tahitian Noni. Chaffetz himself once worked for Nu Skin.

He said his bill would define what types of research may be referenced by supplement manufacturers and would ensure that citing the research does not convert a food or supplement into an unapproved drug.

The FDA and the Federal Trade Commission would retain authority to pursue any fraudulent or misleading statements, he said.

"It is important for individuals and families to take charge of their personal health by making the right decisions to get and stay healthy," Chaffetz said. "This includes accessing information so that individuals can adjust habits, eat healthy and take appropriate dietary supplements to prevent and even treat health conditions."

Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., is co-sponsoring the bill with Chaffetz. The two are co-stars of "The Freshman Year" on, an online documentary looking the lives of the two freshmen lawmakers.

This story was reported from Salt Lake City.