California State Health Committee advances restrictive supplement bill

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© PromesaArtStudio / Getty Images
© PromesaArtStudio / Getty Images

Related tags Dietary supplements weight loss supplements California

Attempts to restrict access to weight management supplements for minors took a step forward in California as the State’s Assembly Health Committee advanced a controversial bill on the issue.

AB 82 was introduced in December 2022​, just a couple of months after a similar bill was vetoed by California Governor Gavin Newsom​, who said the work required by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to establish a list of dietary supplements that would be subject to the bill is beyond the scope of the department's capabilities.

The new bill contains the same language and again puts the onus on the State Department of Public Health to determine which dietary supplements for weight loss and over-the-counter diet pills shall be subject to these restrictions.

Kyle Turk, Director of Government Affairs for the Natural Products Association (NPA), told NutraIngredients-USA that the bill's author has indicated they’re expecting a final report from California Department of Public Health. "Once they receive the report they’ll make amendments to the bill based off the departments recommendations."

Unlike similar bills in other states—most notably New York, where Governor Kathy Hochul signed a bill into law in October 2023​—AB 82 does not include muscle building supplements, such as creatine.

Commenting on the news that the Assembly Health Committee advanced the bill, Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., NPA's president and CEO, said: “The NPA has worked in good faith with the California Department of Public Health to educate them on dietary supplement safety, efficacy and regulations. As we have seen across the country, there are legislators who ignore the realities of science to promote their agenda.

“As we have demonstrated repeatedly in public testimony and official correspondence to the Governor and to California public health officials, there is not a single data point connecting the use of eating disorders and dietary supplements. If there were, the FDA would be required to remove that product from the market.”

Steve Mister, President and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), commented: “We presented testimony before the California Assembly Committee on Health and stated that we intend to work with the Assembly to ensure that safe and legal dietary supplements are protected, and await the release of the DPH’s Working Group’s findings, which was initially expected at the end of 2023.”

New York and elsewhere

2024 has started where 2023 finished—with State-led initiatives to restrict access to certain categories of dietary supplements for people under the age of 18.

The most advanced is New York, where the new law is expected to go into effect in April 2024. However, the NPA filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in December 2023​ asserting the unconstitutionality of the recently enacted New York law prohibiting and restricting dietary supplements.

“This is a category killer,” Dr. Fabricant told NutraIngredients-USA last year when the association announced the lawsuit. “These bills are based on hysteria. There’s no scientific fact behind them. When you look at creatine, it’s one of the most studied ingredients on the planet.”

Similar bills are also at various stages in Massachusetts and New Jersey. There are potentially 10 to 15 states that could realistically introduce these kinds of bills in their next legislative sessions, says NPA.

"Importantly, the industry needs to have a unified voice on proposals aimed at restricting access to supplements," said Turk. "Far too often NPA is the only trade organizations fighting off these attacks."

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