CRN files lawsuit against New York state for law prohibiting the sale of weight management and muscle building supplements to minors.

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CRN is suing New York State for the passage of a law that prohibits the sale of dietary supplements marketed for weight management and muscle building to minors.

Photo © iStockphoto.com/KLH49

Photo © iStockphoto.com/KLH49

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN; Washington, D.C.) has filed a lawsuit against the state of New York in response to the passage of a recent law that would restrict retailers from selling “muscle building” and weight management products to minors. The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the law and calls for an injunction to prohibit the enforcement of age-based restrictions on the aforementioned products.

“CRN’s Board of Directors did not reach this decision lightly,” said Steve Mister, President and CEO of CRN, in a press release. “Our initial strategy was to work with legislators, the Governor, and the AG’s office to develop reasonable solutions that address legitimate concerns about the rise in eating disorders. But having exhausted those avenues, we must ask the courts to protect the rights of our members, retailers, and consumers in New York.”

CRN argues that the age-restrictions will ultimately limit access to all consumers leading to some retailers discontinuing the sale of the products altogether, while others will be forced to bring them behind the counter or lock them in cabinets. “That prevents all consumers, regardless of age, from having widespread access to beneficial products,” said Mister. Additionally, CRN says that law is overly broad and an undefined set of criteria for the restricted products while retailers have received no guidance on compliance. This would therefore impact products that may not be subject to the law but because of the confusing nature of the legislation may be interpreted by retailers to qualify.

CRN explains that its suit argues that by creating age-based restrictions based on broad and imprecise guidelines, New York’s law “imposes sanctions on lawful behavior and protected commercial speech, while leaving parties who want to comply guessing as to which products are covered.”

CRN is not the first trade organization to file suit against New York on this issue. The Natural Products Association (NPA; Washington, D.C.) filed suit in December arguing that the law is unconstitutional because it pre-empts the Federal Food Drug & Cosmetic Act. Industry has been strenuously lobbying against the passage of the New York law, and similar ones in other states. Advocates for the restriction draw a connection between dietary supplement use and eating disorders, and argue that the restrictions protect minors. Industry advocates argue that there is no causal link between the two, and therefore the dietary supplement industry, manufacturers and retailers, do not bear responsibility for disordered eating among youths.

"Like the supporters of this law, CRN’s member companies take the rise in eating disorders among young people, and the suffering they cause, very seriously," said Mister, in a press release. “But after carefully evaluating the issue, we believe this law is an example of misguided regulation that will harm both the industry and consumers. By filing this lawsuit, we hope to ensure that New York residents continue to have access to safe and effective dietary supplements.”

Updated on March 14, 2024 at 6:46 AM PST to include a link to CRN's complaint.

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