The amendment, put forth by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, R-CN, would have been attached to the to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The amendment, which was withdrawn in May, would have required additional testing certifications for supplements above and beyond what is required for the sale of supplements to the general population.
“Why were we going to have our soldiers subject to something the rest of the population is not subject to?” said NPA CEO Dan Fabricant, PhD.
Fabricant told NutraIngredients-USA that the campaign, organized through NPA’s Save our Supplements website, generated more than 2,200 letters to member of Congress in support of freedom of choice for supplement users among the military. Fabricant said a goal of the effort is to maintain that engagement and momentum. Blumenthal and his fellow supplement critic Sen Dick Durban, D-IL, attempted to attach similar amendments to the 2016 defense bill and they will be back.
“What is scary here is that these guys are not going away. They clearly have in their minds that they are going to keep pushing for more restrictions. We worked with our champions, like Sen. Hatch, and we did target members of the Armed Services Committee. I think this is the start of figuring out how to have a better dialogue with those folks,” he said.
Concerns have been raised about in recent years about the marketing of supplements to US military personnel and their families. During the DMAA episode, the deaths of two active duty soldiers who collapsed after exercise were associated with the use of supplements that contained the ingredient. DMAA-containing supplements were banned from the shelves of US military commissaries shortly thereafter. But a Defense Department report last fall showed that at that time at least 39 products containing the ingredient were still readily for sale online, even though FDA had ruled that DMAA was not a lawful dietary ingredient. FDA said that it was ‘following up’ that report.
Fabricant said that military personnel are devoted supplement users and as a class are no more at risk than the general population of getting a tainted product, and that they need the same access that other citizens enjoy. The goal, he said, is to get out ahead of that debate rather than continue to try to shore up the holes in the dike caused by a small amount of tainted products posing as supplements.
“Let’s look at the mindset of the war fighters. They are looking for any competitive advantage, if you will. Whether it is a multivitamin or a protein product, they are heavy users of supplements. As an industry we help keep them healthy. The challenge is, how do we get that message out there?” Fabricant said.