According to dietary supplement trade group Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), which applauded the Massachusetts Legislature’s decision for HB 1195, this update “effectively [ends] any prospect for passage in this legislative session.”
It was the second time that Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Kay Khan introduced a bill in the state legislature to take weight loss and muscle building supplements out of the aisles and put them behind counters, limiting their access to managers or pharmacists.
She introduced the first iteration of the bill in 2015 under the name HB 3471. She told NutraIngredients-USA back then that, in her view, the “products pose unacceptable risks.” Rep. Khan has not yet responded to requests for comments on this latest update.
CRN: ‘All you’re doing is restricting legitimate products that are allowed to be on the market’
When the first iteration of the bill was introduced in 2015, CRN was the only group lobbying against it, said Mike Greene, senior vice president of government relations at CRN.
“This time we looked at it a little differently, we built a broader coalition to stop the bill,” he told us. This included the Retailers Association of Massachusetts and other dietary supplement trade groups like the Natural Products Association (NPA).
The coalition testified at the most recent hearing and made their case about why they think the bill is misguided. “We understood what they were trying to address, but by restricting these types of products from minors, all you’re doing is restrict legitimate products that are allowed to be on the market. You don’t really stop the overall problems you’re trying to address,” Greene said, adding that the bill’s proponents framed it as a way to curb body dysmorphia and eating disorders.
“In fact, you create a situation where [teens] may leave Massachusetts and try to purchase some in nearby states, or to purchase it online—nothing in the bill would stop online purchases,” he added.
Dan Fabricant, CEO and executive director of NPA, added that federal laws are “more than adequate” if there really were any health problems associated to these products.
“Trust me, as someone who’s actually used that system from the side of the Fed, if there’s a signal, the Feds can, and will use it. There’s a system in place that guards against products that harm people.”
Remaining vigilant: Bill not going forward, but it wasn’t put in the trash either
Greene said that despite the bill being pulled off the floor and sent to a committee, CRN will not rest on its laurels. He said that there haven’t been bills like it introduced in other states, “but that’s what makes this bill so serious.”
“It can be taken up by other states if it were to gain any traction or move. It is unique in Massachusetts, but the legislation is not well-written…there are a lot of efforts in states, a lot of bill introductions of bills that will never go anywhere,” he said.
“But we must be vigilant,” Greene added. “This legislation has been stopped for now. It was stopped once before. But I suspect we can see it be reintroduced in the future.”
“Those folks that have businesses in New England, I think it’s important to pay attention to these sorts of things,” Dr. Fabricant added.
“We don’t want the Northeast to go the way of California, where you have an active plaintiff spar enforcing these things that are just haphazard and are not based on science, not based on good policy, and don’t really help the citizens of that area.”