Amendment to limit military access to dietary supplements withdrawn

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Image: © iStockPhoto / Maksym Dragunov
Image: © iStockPhoto / Maksym Dragunov

Related tags United states senate Military

An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to impose restrictions on the sale of dietary supplements at military base commissaries has been withdrawn. 

Sen Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) had announced his intention to introduce the amendment (number 178) to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the Senate Armed Services Committee mark-up, which would require that any dietary supplement sold on a military base commissary or a retail establishment operating on a military base to be verified by an independent third party “for recognized public standards of identity, purity, strength, and composition, and adherence to related process standards”.

“The Secretary of Defense shall, in consultation with the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, identify the third parties that may provide verification,” ​adds the amendment.

The amendment has now been withdrawn. 

The amendment was reminiscent of others filed last summer​ by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Blumenthal to the Department of Defense 2016 spending bill. Those amendments were not included in the final bill after failing to make it to the floor vote. This year, however, it was being offered in the Senate Armed Services Committee, on which Sen Blumenthal sits. Steve Mister, President of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, told us that the amendment was not entirely unexpected because the NDAA comes up every year and it is must pass legislation, so it is a convenient vehicle for these kinds of amendments.

"We don't think this is over," ​said Mister. "When the bill comes to the Senate, he could still try and put these amendments on the floor, so we have to stay vigilant. The fact that he already tried at committee level and saw that this just doesn't have widespread support is encouraging." 

"Access to safe products that they feel support their fitness goals"

Dan Fabricant, Ph.D., Executive Director and CEO of NPA, said: “We strongly support the rights of our service men and women to have access to safe products that they feel support their fitness goals.

“Senator Blumenthal has repeatedly sought to deny access to these safe and healthy products from all Americans, and it is unfortunate that he appears to be targeting our men and women in service uniforms first.”
NPA is preparing for the amendment or a similar version to be reintroduced when the legislation moves to the floor of the Senate for final passage, he said. NPA enacted a nearly identical strategy to Senator Blumenthal’s backdoor ban of supplements on military bases last year. “If Senator Blumenthal wants to ban dietary supplements in our country, he should do so openly instead of through backdoor attempts that require our troops to go through more hoops and hurdles to get the products they desire,”​ continued Dr Fabricant. “The fight is certainly not over and we will remain vigilant in our grassroots efforts to prevent this amendment from making its way into law.”

"Creating a redundant and expensive burden for companies"

Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association, issued the following statement: "AHPA and the regulated supplement industry appreciate Sen. Blumenthal withdrawing this amendment.

"Dietary supplement companies are currently required to comply with a host of federal regulations including current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) requirements that ensure the safety and quality of supplements sold in the U.S. This amendment would have created a redundant and expensive burden for companies to sell products on military bases, effectively limiting service members' access to high-quality supplements."

"AHPA and the other industry associations will remain vigilant as the FY 2017 NDAA measure is slated to be considered by the full Senate in the coming weeks. Senate floor action on the FY 2017 NDAA legislation will provide Sen. Blumenthal, along with Sen. Durbin, another opportunity to push this and possibly other proposals to unnecessarily restrict consumer access to supplements,"​ said McGuffin.

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