Trades testify in Maryland against state bill to restrict supplement access

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

The Maryland State House In Annapolis.  Image © traveler1116 / Getty Images
The Maryland State House In Annapolis. Image © traveler1116 / Getty Images

Related tags Dietary supplements Dietary supplement industry weight management products

Maryland is the latest state to propose legislation to restrict the access for minors to dietary supplements for weight management.

Maryland House Bill 634​, which was cross-filed with Maryland Senate Bill 602​, calls for restricting access of minors to dietary supplements or pharmaceuticals for weight loss. The bill does not attempt to regulate muscle building supplements.

The bills follow similar efforts in states such as California, New York, and New Jersey​ over the past 12 months. The efforts in California and New York passed the State Legislatures but were ultimately vetoed by the respective governors.

During a hearing of Maryland’s House of Delegates’ Economic Matters Committee, Del. Joseph Vogel, the lead sponsor for the bill, cited concerns that time spent on social media correlates with use of diet pills because social media promotes “unrealistic and harmful body expectations”.

Del. Vogel alleged that diet pill companies have taken advantage of this “to push these under-regulated diet pills onto young people.”

“HB634 seeks to protect teenagers from these under-regulated and overly available over the counter diet pills and ensure Maryland consumers are protected,” he stated.

Industry response

In testimony against the bill, Robert Marriott, director of regulatory affairs for the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), said: “The bill as described mischaracterizes the product class in question, particularly for dietary supplements. Dietary supplements are regulated by the Federal Government. They are subject to adverse event reporting requirements at the Federal level. Both manufacturing and products are subject to safety and formulation inspections, including product specification requirements.”

Dr Daniel Fabricant, president and CEO of the Natural Products Association, said: “We understand the legislation’s intent and eating disorders should be taken seriously, but this Bill has been vetoed both in California and New York with good reason.

“The laws are in place and they’re exactly the same as pharmaceuticals, notably adverse event reporting. If there is a problem with a product that signal goes to the FDA. It generates to the AER system, and it is evaluated by medical professionals, both external and internal to the Agency, and the law requires that AER received by a company have to be reported to the FDA within 15 days.

“From the years 2019 to 2022, there is not a single adverse event report for dietary supplements relating to eating disorders,” said Dr Fabricant.

Steve Mister, president and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) and a Maryland resident himself, noted that when you place age restrictions on a consumer product it restricts access for all consumers. “Many stores will simply stop carrying the product entirely and the rest will put these products behind the counter in a glass case or locked cage whether expressly required by the legislation or not.

“There is not one bit of evidence that dietary supplements cause these eating disorders,” said Mister. 

Commenting on next steps, NPA’s Dr Fabricant told us that no vote is currently scheduled yet on the bill, and multiple amendments have been submitted for the bill by Del. Vogel. A hearing on that Chamber’s version is reportedly scheduled to take place in two weeks.

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