SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Orrin Hatch is rebutting an HBO "Real Sports" story that ties him and a law he championed to several soldiers who died after taking dietary supplements sold on their bases.
In a segment that aired Tuesday, correspondent Soledad O'Brien reported that Hatch has repeatedly and successfully fought attempts to more closely regulate the supplement industry.
"Many of the claims made by 'Real Sports', and the implication of their storyline, are simply not accurate," according to statement from Hatch's office.
O’Brien reported that three soldiers at Fort Bliss in Texas died after using a product containing DMAA — an ingredient which the Food and Drug Administration has since banned. The supplement chain GNC has locations on nearly 130 military bases around the country.
Hatch sponsored the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act in 1994 that lets supplement companies sell their products without the strict FDA approval process applied to prescription drugs.
The senator's office said it wanted to talk to HBO about the nature of the supplement industry and Hatch's efforts over the years to ensure effective regulation.
"Unfortunately, the producers were focused on exploiting a tragedy and telling a precrafted story, even if mostly inaccurate," according to the statement.
The program did not interview Hatch, but a spokesman from his office appears on camera calling the connection between Hatch and the deaths "logical gymnastics."
Hatch's office said as a direct result of his legislation — which was supported by a broad majority of Republicans and Democrats in Congress — the FDA, Federal Trade Commission, Department of Justice, and state enforcement agencies are well equipped to guard against unsafe products. It also says Hatch has sought to strengthen regulation and enforcement.
In what his office said was coincidental to the HBO report, Hatch and Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., called on the Justice Department this week to enforce regulations on drugs falsely labeled as dietary supplements.
The senators urged the DOJ to work with the FDA to take action against repeat offenders who have ignored warning letters and failed to recall fraudulent supplements voluntarily.
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