We expect it to be slipped into a must-pass defense bill. Major Action Alert!
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) may be up to his old tricks and attempting to attach a last-minute amendment to must-pass legislation that would threaten Americans’ access to supplements. This comes after our champions already shut down his previous attempts in a markup committee last month.
The bill is the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an appropriations bill to fund the military for FY 2017, introduced every year to fund defense spending. The House passed its version of the bill earlier in May. The Senate may be considering the bill as early as next week.
Blumenthal can offer the amendment because it pertains to the availability of supplements on military bases. Troublingly, it would extend an existing policy that regulates certain supplements on military bases. It would now force all supplements offered for sale to members of the military at exchange stores or commissaries to undergo a third-party review for “recognized public standards of identity, purity, strength, and composition, and adherence to related process standards.” This may sound innocent, though it is anything but.
First, by law, supplements must already hold to current good manufacturing practices (cGMPs), which require that the products be processed in a consistent manner and meet quality standards. Second, supplement companies will likely be expected to pay huge sums for this review. Only the biggest companies—many of them owned by Big Pharma—will be able to comply. Yet another government-created monopoly will be handed over to big drug companies.
In addition, once this regime is established, it will be only a short step to expand it to all US consumers, not just the military. Then the pharmaceutical industry will have what it really wants: complete control over the supplement industry. Many supplements will become drugs and soar in price while their availability is restricted. As with any monopoly, quality will also decline, because regulations are never a substitute for real competition involving new and small as well as old and large companies.
Supplements are incredibly safe and are already fully regulated by both the FDA and the FTC. This amendment is a misguided attempt to limit access and hamper individual health freedom.
The truth of the matter is that the current regulatory regime governing dietary supplements is working—which is why supplements have such a sterling safety record. In fact, our counterparts at ANH-Europe found that UK residents were about as likely to get struck by lightning as to die from taking dietary supplements.
We’ve come to expect this sort of maneuver from Blumenthal: what can’t be accomplished through more conventional democratic means, he and his anti-supplement allies try to accomplish through sneaky, eleventh-hour maneuvering before the public can catch wind of it. This military appropriations bill could have hundreds of proposed amendments attached to it, and not all of them will be discussed by the Senate. With your help, we hope to prevent the Blumenthal amendment from ever being considered on the Senate floor. The natural health community has responded vigorously to defeat previous attacks against supplements: in one instance, our readers sent nearly 100,000 messages in less than twenty-four hours. The time has come again to make our voices heard on Capitol Hill to protect our access to quality dietary supplements!
Major Action Alert! Write or call your senators and urge them to stop any attempts by Blumenthal to attach his amendment, which will take dangerous steps toward limiting consumers’ access to dietary supplements. Please send your message immediately.