Industry Rails against Proposed Amendments to Limit Dietary Supplement Access in Military


Three supplement-related amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act are drawing criticism from CRN and NPA.

Three supplement-related amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) are facing staunch opposition this week from the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN; Washington DC) and the Natural Products Association (NPA, Washington DC).

The amendments, proposed on June 3 by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), call for military personnel to track adverse events regarding dietary supplements, call for service men and women to report their supplement use to military healthcare providers, and limit the sale of dietary supplements in commissary and exchange stores.

CRN has called the amendments “duplicative of current laws” and “unrelated” to the 2016 Department of Defense spending bill, which is considered by many to be must-pass legislation.

“Unfortunately for the troops, Senators Blumenthal and Durbin’s solution is to offer amendments to a defense authorization bill that duplicate current laws for reporting suspected adverse events from these products; create overly-burdensome monitoring of supplement use by military personnel, and limit access to a wide range of dietary supplements by service men and women,” said Steve Mister, president and CEO, CRN, in a press release.

Mister added: “While CRN is open to having reasonable conversations about ridding the marketplace of illegal dietary supplements, we oppose unnecessary laws that interfere with medical privacy, prohibit consumer access to legal products, and place additional burdens on military personnel.”

The Natural Products Association also came out strongly against these amendments, urging visitors to its website to sign an online petition to “oppose the Senators Durbin and Blumenthal amendments that would impose redundant and invasive regulations which will negatively impact those who protect and defend our liberty on a daily basis.”


HBO Controversy

The three amendments come on the heels of a May 19 episode of HBO’s “Real Sports,” which suggested an unregulated dietary supplements industry was responsible for the deaths of several US soldiers who used supplements containing the banned ingredient DMAA. The segment proposed that the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) allowed for the marketing of dangerous products such as DMAA, and that Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) was complicit in these adverse events in the military as a sponsor of DSHEA.

Industry organizations responded to the report immediately, decrying it for not including the perspective of the supplement industry and misrepresenting the law.

“Regrettably, HBO has chosen to misinform its viewers on the regulation and safety record of supplements,” said Loren Israelsen, president, the United Natural Products Alliance. “And while we agree that rogue players and products do exist, this is not because of DSHEA or Sen. Hatch, who has consistently worked to preserve the rights of consumers to access safe dietary supplements.”

American Herbal Products Association President Michael McGuffin also issued a sharp criticism of the “inaccurate HBO portrayal of DSHEA,” and CRN’s Steve Mister suggested the problem might instead be that “FDA has not always acted as swiftly as appropriate to remove from the market these kinds of questionable products.”

Yet, the push by Senators Blumenthal and Durbin to further regulate supplements in the military may be an indicator that the negative press from the HBO episode has had an effect.

The three proposed amendments to NDAA relating to supplements in the military are Senate Amendments 1560, 1561, and 1562.


Read more:

Which Supplements Are Most Popular in the Military?

If the Military Recommends Dietary Supplements, Will U.S. Policymakers Follow Suit?


Michael Crane
Associate Editor
Nutritional Outlook Magazine


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