The Council for Responsible Nutrition took its ‘tale of two industries’ to Capitol Hill this week for senior level meetings and briefings with key lawmakers, with steroids, weight loss products, and smart prevention featuring on the agenda.
More than 70 high-level executives representing CRN member companies convened at the US Capitol, and received a “great reception from the members of Congress,” said Mike Greene, vice president, government relations, CRN. “I’ve been to all of our Days on the Hill and they are getting progressively better.”
In meetings with close to 60 congressional offices, CRN and its members emphasized the importance of passing the Designer Anabolic Steroid Control Act (DASCA) of 2014, said Greene, which would ensure anabolic steroids are not misrepresented as legitimate dietary supplements by broadening the definition and imposing tougher penalties on firms making and selling them.
The Act seeks to amend the Controlled Substances Act to add more than 25 new substances to current lists of defined anabolic steroids, and revises the process whereby new substances can be added in future.
It also creates tougher penalties (up to $2.5m and up to 10 years in prison) for the manufacture, sale and/or distribution of substances that meet the definition.
While there are a limited number of days before the summer recess, Greene said he expects a lot of activity in July, and that the association is hoping to see DASCA on the House floor before the recess.
The delegation also expressed its opposition to the Dietary Supplement Labeling Act (DSLA), which was proposed by Senators Durbin and Blumenthal in August 2013, but has so far failed to attract additional sponsors, said Greene. There is also no companion bill in the House, he said.
The DSLA would impose new burdens on the FDA, the Institute of Medicine and industry, said CRN, and would place unfair requirements on law-abiding, responsible companies while doing nothing to protect consumers from unscrupulous actors who already ignore the law.
While the DSLA has seen very little activity since its introduction, it was noted by Senator Blumenthal during the recent weight loss product hearing, said Greene.
“Weight loss was on the top of everyone’s minds,” he added, “and it reinforced that the industry has two identities: the responsible companies following thelaws and the outliers that aren’t.”
In addition, CRN shared information from the Frost & Sullivan economic report, Smart Prevention – Health Care Cost Savings Resulting from the Targeted Use of Dietary Supplements , which demonstrates that supplementation at preventive intake levels in high-risk populations can reduce the number of disease-associated medical events, representing the potential for hundreds of millions—and in some cases, billions—of dollars of savings.
“We’re just beginning with smart prevention,” said Greene. “We’re continuing to share the information that it’s already known that dietary supplements are beneficial, and there are economic benefits as well.”
Kate Houston, director of government relations for Cargill, and chair of CRN’s Government Relations Committee, said that the ‘Day on the Hill’ came at a critical time for the dietary supplement industry. “After meeting today with dozens of key lawmakers, there’s no doubt that CRN members are making an impact.”