Hon. Ron Paul of Texas Before the US House of Representatives
Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce the Health Freedom Protection Act. This bill
restores the First Amendment rights of consumers to receive truthful information
regarding the benefits of foods and dietary supplements by codifying the First
Amendment standards used by federal courts to strike down the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) efforts to censor truthful health claims. The Health
Freedom Protection Act also stops the Federal Trade Commissions (FTC) from
censoring truthful health care claims.
The American people have made it clear they do not want the federal
government to interfere with their access to dietary supplements, yet the FDA
and the FTC continue to engage in heavy-handed attempts to restrict such access.
The FDA continues to frustrate consumers’ efforts to learn how they can
improve their health even after Congress, responding to a record number of
constituents’ comments, passed the Dietary Supplement and Health and Education
Act of 1994 (DSHEA). FDA bureaucrats are so determined to frustrate consumer
access to truthful information that they are even evading their duty to comply
with four federal court decisions vindicating consumers’ First Amendment
rights to discover the health benefits of foods and dietary supplements.
FDA bureaucrats have even refused to abide by the DSHEA section allowing the
public to have access to scientific articles and publications regarding the role
of nutrients in protecting against diseases by claiming that every article
concerning this topic is evidence of intent to sell a drug.
Because of the FDA’s censorship of truthful health claims, millions of
Americans may suffer with diseases and other health care problems they may have
avoided by using dietary supplements. For example, the FDA prohibited consumers
from learning how folic acid reduces the risk of neural tube defects for four
years after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended every
woman of childbearing age take folic acid supplements to reduce neural tube
defects. This FDA action contributed to an estimated 10,000 cases of preventable
neutral tube defects!
The FDA also continues to prohibit consumers from learning about the scientific
evidence that glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are effective in the treatment
of osteoarthritis; that omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of sudden death
heart attack; and that calcium may reduce the risk of bone fractures.
The Health Freedom Protection Act will force the FDA to at last comply with
the commands of Congress, the First Amendment, and the American people by
codifying the First Amendment standards adopted by the federal courts.
Specifically, the Health Freedom Protection Act stops the FDA from censoring
truthful claims about the curative, mitigative, or preventative effects of
dietary supplements, and adopts the federal court’s suggested use of
disclaimers as an alternative to censorship. The Health Freedom Protection Act
also stops the FDA from prohibiting the distribution of scientific articles and
publications regarding the role of nutrients in protecting against disease.
This legislation also addresses the FTC’s violations of the First
Amendment. Under traditional First Amendment jurisprudence, the federal
government bears the burden of proving an advertising statement false before
censoring that statement. However, the FTC has reversed the standard in the case
of dietary supplements by requiring supplement manufactures to satisfy an
unobtainable standard of proof that their statement is true. The FTC’s
standards are blocking innovation in the marketplace.
The Health Freedom Protection Act requires the government bear the burden of
proving that speech could be censored. This is how it should be in a free,
dynamic society. The bill also requires that the FTC warn parties that their
advertising is false and give them a chance to correct their mistakes.
Mr. Speaker, if we are serious about putting people in charge of their health
care, then shouldn’t we stop federal bureaucrats from preventing Americans
from learning about simple ways to improve their health. I therefore call on my
colleagues to stand up for good health care and the First Amendment by
cosponsoring the Health Freedom Protection Act.