Industry opposes Durbin/Blumenthal amendments to limit military access to dietary supplements

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

Photo credit: © iStockPhoto/Maksym Dragunov
Photo credit: © iStockPhoto/Maksym Dragunov

Related tags: Dietary supplements, Food and drug administration, Steve mister

The Natural Products Association and the Council for Responsible Nutrition are rallying support against amendments to the Department of Defense 2016 spending bill to limit military access to dietary supplements. The spending bill is considered by some as must-pass legislation.

On June 3, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) filed three amendments (S.A. 1560, 1561 & 1562) to the Department of Defense 2016 spending bill calling for the tracking of adverse events regarding dietary supplements use by military personnel, tracking the use of dietary supplements by military personnel, and limiting the sale of dietary supplements in commissary and exchange stores.

"What we have is a huge amendment by Senator McCain and everyone is trying to hitch secondary amendments to that,"​ explained Steve Mister, CEO of CRN. About 175 amendments have been added, and Mister expects that very few will get to an up and down vote (the amendments are being considered this week, and the bill voted on next week). "Normally you'd think that this is must-pass legislation, but the Democrats are threatening a filibuster and the President is threatening a veto. This is separate to the issue of dietary supplements and tied to the bigger issue of military spending." 

Mister said that CRN is of the mind that this can be handled in the beltway, and he said he was on the Hill yesterday and today for meetings on this issue with both allies and critics, including the offices of Senators Durbin and Blumenthal. "We think it's important to reach out to our critics and to better understand their motivation and their end game. If it's related to the stimulant issue [and ingredients like DMAA, DMBA, BMPEA, etc] then those are NDIs without notifications. If that's the motivation then FDA needs to be more aggressive in its enforcement."

On its side, the NPA has launched the Save Our Supplements webpage to rally grassroots opposition to the amendments. Dr Daniel Fabricant, CEO and Executive Director of the NPA, told us: "Our site and the SOS site have a vehicle and messaging that clearly lays out why these proposals present significant challenges for the industry and the military. People may think that this doesn't apply to them, just the military but we've seen this exact same play many times before, I will bet anyone dollars to donuts that a broader challenge is coming next and coming soon. We need folks to send in emails, it's that simple.

"There's a perception, even amongst the strongest critics of the industry, that the industry may be softer and apathetic after all of the happenings this year. So it's time for the industry to stand up and have their voices heard."​ 

The NPA has also provided a list of talking points to explain why people should oppose the amendments. To read those talking points, please click HERE​.

Proposed amendments

SA 1560​ calls for the military health system to record dietary supplement adverse events, to generate standard reports on adverse event data that can be aggregated for analysis, and to issue automated alerts to signal a significant change in adverse event reporting or to signal a risk of interaction with a medication or other treatment.

SA 1561 ​would modify the electronic health record system of the military health system to include data on dietary supplement use by members of the Armed Forces.

SA 1562 ​would require dietary supplements sold by a retail establishment operating on a military installation to
1. Be verified by an independent third party for recognized public standards of identity, purity, strength, and composition, and adherence to related process standards; or
2. Comply with Defense Commissary Agency policy on inventory carried by commissaries.
The amendment would direct the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to identify the third parties that may provide verification.

Related topics: Regulation

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