New York lawmakers to vote on bill to restrict supplement sales

By Hank Schultz contact

- Last updated on GMT

A view of the New York State Capitol building. ©Getty Images - Lavendertime
A view of the New York State Capitol building. ©Getty Images - Lavendertime

Related tags: eating disorders, weight loss products, Weight loss, Sports nutrition products

A bill that would significantly restrict the sale of some dietary supplements in New York State has quickly advanced to a vote by the full State Senate, greatly increasing the chances it could become law.

The bill, designated as S. 16, and sponsored by Democratic State Sen. Shelly Mayer, would prevent the sale of “over-the-counter diet pills and dietary supplements for weight loss or muscle building”​ to minors.  The bill would mandate a fine of up to $2,000 for each violation.

Mayer advanced the bill out of committee without a final vote directly to the Senate floor via an obscure parliamentary procedure called a Discharge Motion. It is reportedly used in some cases where a bill has opposition in committee but has languished beyond the 60-day deadline for action.

NPA: Legislative end run will limit info lawmakers have on bill before voting on it

Daniel Fabricant, PhD, president and executive director of the Natural Products Association, said the legislative end run does away with the chance to have some important input into the bill.  Other state senators will not hear from the Consumer Protections Committee about the bill and may not have enough time to fully comprehend the consequences of the bill before voting on it prior to a Thursday deadline, he said.

The bill says the targeted dietary supplements “may include, but are not limited to, thermogens, which are substances that produce heat in the body and promote 4 more calorie burning, lipotropics, which are compounds that help break 5 down fat during body metabolism, hormones, including hormone modulators 6 and hormone mimetics, appetite suppressants.”

Fabricant said Mayer characterized the ingredient creatine, which has a long record of safety and efficacy, as a ‘dangerous’ substance in her floor speech in support of the bill. 

He said the bill is motivated by a purported link between the use of these kind of products and an increase in prevalence and severity of eating disorders among minors. That idea has been floated in other attempts to restrict supplement sales, such as those put forward on several occasions by Massachusetts State Rep. Kay Khan, D-Newton​.  

No evidence of a supplement-eating disorder link

NPA maintains that there is no evidence that such a link exists. Fabricant said the trade group sent a FOIA request to FDA for any adverse event reports that link the use of dietary supplements and an exacerbation of an eating disorder.  No such adverse events reports could be found, he said.

Fabricant said NPA is urging its members and other supplement industry stakeholders to contact directly the office of Gov. Mario Cuomo to ask for a veto of the bill.

“We think this is fairly dangerous.  We think they are going to try to ram this through the state assembly today,”​ he said.

“If that happens they can get it on the governor’s desk by Thursday.  We are putting our efforts into trying to get calls into the Governor’s office, and we’ve got about 400 so far,” ​Fabricant said.

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