Two Dangerous Bills in NY Show Anti-Supplement Bias

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SupplementOne bill would give the health commissioner the power to ban any supplement deemed “harmful,” no matter how tiny the risk. A state-based Action Alert!

The New York state legislature is considering two new bills that could have a devastating effect on supplements, and if they are successful, they may be copied by other states.

The first bill (S.3650 and A.4700) will establish a Dietary Supplement Safety Committee that would create a system for adverse event reports; assess data and make recommendations to ban whichever nutritional supplements it deemed harmful; and establish a public health education campaign on dietary supplements. Most dangerous of all, the health commissioner would have the ability to ban supplements as recommended by committee.

This would undermine the hard-won national regulatory system for supplements under DSHEA, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994—which was enacted to encourage access to nutritional supplements. Creating a “negative” list of supplements at the state level directly contradicts the process outlined by DSHEA and brings us one step closer to a system of approved vs. non-approved supplements.

Remember, supplements aren’t allowed to state their full therapeutic benefits lest they be considered a drug by the FDA. Since it is illegal for producers to cite benefits in any but the most vague terms, the analysis will necessarily be one-sided, and any risk, no matter how tiny, may be deemed sufficient to have the supplement banned. Note that the same rule isn’t applied to OTC drugs like acetaminophen, which every year is responsible for 100,000 calls to poison control centers, 56,000 emergency room visits, 26,000 hospitalizations, and more than 450 deaths from liver failure.

The bill isn’t clear about what system of adverse event reports (AER) it intends to create, but at the very least, it’s redundant: this already exists nationally. FDA collects AERs for dietary supplements, which manufacturers are required by law to submit. Consumers are encouraged to submit AERs to FDA. Making an additional state-level requirement will impose a greater burden on manufacturers, with absolutely no additional benefit to consumers.

There are 409 times more serious AERs for drugs than for nutritional supplements, as we demonstrated in 2011. So why are supplements being singled out?

Given the tone of the bill, it’s very likely the public health education campaign mandated by the bill will be biased against supplements. The problem, of course, is that only conventional medicine will likely be consulted; the integrative medical community has a very different idea of the benefits of supplements, as we saw when the Institute of Medicine made its absurdly low vitamin D recommendations.

The second NY bill, SB.4151, would require that sport supplement manufacturers and distributors give the customer, along with every sports supplement sold, a pamphlet that discloses whether the product has been banned by certain sports leagues, the US Anti-Doping Agency, or the World Anti-Doping Agency, and whether it has any known negative adverse effects or known herb–drug interactions. The bill would also ban all sports supplements from being sold to people under age 18.

Illogically, the bill excludes supplements in liquid form, as well as supplements containing caffeine (such as the five-hour energy drinks), which are the ones responsible for much of the controversy over supplements in the first place. Energy drinks often get marketed as supplements when they shouldn’t be, but the fact that the bill excludes this category altogether is strange, to say the least.

We are strongly in favor of consumer disclosure and transparency. But this bill is badly written, and we fear it could be used as a hammer against the supplement industry by drug and other interests, and could also put more power over supplements into the hands of biased state agencies. Supplements have a remarkable track record of safety, and such state regulations do nothing to increase it—they would only diminish access.

Consumers should be empowered to make responsible decisions when it comes to nutritional supplements:

  • Seek sound, professional advice before starting a supplementation program.
  • Consider whether the supplements are natural or synthetic, and learn whether there are co-factors you should take with any particular supplement.
  • Take note of the company making the supplement. Most good supplement companies are easily contacted, and are happy to share with customers their testing procedures.

Access to supplements is an increasingly important consumer rights issue, with 68% American adults taking nutritional or dietary supplements, and 76% of that number classifying themselves as regular supplement users. Given these high numbers, the extremely low number of AERs received annually is a testament to their safety.

Action Alert! If you are a resident of New York state, please contact your legislators immediately about these two bills, and urge them to oppose both bills. Send your message today!

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  • Stelios Kraniotakis

    This bill is RIDICULOUS!

    FREEDOM OF CHOICE is personal – it’s not up to the government to decide what I put into my body!!! The FDA is full of damn imbeciles!

  • kozanecki

    how do i broadcast your message to all my email contacts?

    great job
    i am a user of dietary supplements for 13 years i do not have health insurance and i do not want one i am a living testament of how man can survive recover heal without using drugs just natural remedies and dietary supplements vitamins proper nutrition exercise and meditation

  • ACurtis

    We must do EVERYTHING in our power to prevent the drug/pharma monopolies from taking away any more freedoms/freedom of choice we have when it comes to our health and what we take/put into our bodies. This stinks of being set up by pharma interests to control what people get (i.e., only pharma/OTC and no supplements).

    These evil empires have run too long on their overinflated sense of worth. When compared to what God gave us–that is, wholesome food and herbs and other natural substances–all the pharma cartel can do is give us some man-made, lab-concocted synthetic version that seriously screws up our body/electromagnetic field. And when that drug has done its job and completely messed up that particular area/organ of the body, then the side effects dictate that they give you another pharma drug to destroy another area. And it continues, organ after organ, until your body gives up and its dead from over-pharma drug use.

    ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Fight, everyone, FIGHT! for your rights. We must be doing a good job of scaring them. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be pushing so heavily to get these bills banning supplements passed. Or trying to limit our knowledge of learning about nutrition. Or trying to prevent us from growing our own gardens or buying organic produce. Keep on fighting!

  • Albert R. Close

    Although this bill directly affects the people of New York only, I feel that if it is passed, it will only be a matter of time before every State in the country has a similar bill, much like those promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
    You should allow comments by people from every State.

  • Hello,
    With the disease and obesity epidemic in the U.S. and the poor food quality available, nutritional supplements is an excellent way to meet the daily nutritional requirements. It also is my right as a citizen to choose to take care of my health in the best way I see fit and not be limited by those that have different opinions on the topic. Also, pharmaceutical drugs are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths per year, both via when used as directed and by misuse, but supplements on the other can maybe be linked to under 50. So if the government is going to begin somewhere in what they feel is protecting the public, then shouldn’t they begin with the products sector that causes a greatly exponential number of illness and deaths?
    Do NOT take away our right to protect our health! The food supply has already been almost completely destroyed, leave something for citizens of this country to be healthy. I, along with millions of others will fight this to the end!

  • http://www.ThePeoplesBranch.org
    At the core of most political problems is one thing – SPECIAL INTEREST! The system doesn’t serve the people’s interest because it’s too busy serving special interest! The People’s Branch is a modern-day equivalent of the movement that added the Bill of Rights to the Constitution. It is a political movement that will make local, state and national government, more transparent, less corrupt, more accountable, less wasteful, more fair and just.

    The People’s Branch will create the ultimate check and balance upon most officials and public servants by letting the voters participate directly in government. With The People’s Branch the government remains a republic. Elected officials and public servants are still responsible to work for the people’s interest. Nothing essential is taken away from the present system. However, something very important and greatly needed is added! With The People’s Branch each elected official’s vote(s) concerning any matter can be changed by a majority vote of their constituents. Citizen voting will be voluntary and may be exercised by electronic means from home or office. The technology now exists that can implement this process. Remember, if you can bank online you can vote online? Citizens will only vote to Pass or Fail i.e. Approve or Disapprove their own elected official’s vote. If the majority Approve their elected official’s vote then that elected official’s vote remains unchanged. However, if a majority Disapprove their official’s vote then that vote is changed. By checking and balancing their own elected officials actions the people themselves become their own greatest champions for protecting their own interest and keeping government honest and fair.

    Only corrupt politicians, officials, and public servants fear this political movement because they know that if it succeeds then their power and control will come to an end.

    There’s never been a greater need for this political solution. But no one is saying it is going to be easy. Yet, neither was the Civil Rights movement or the Women’s Suffrage movement, etc., etc. So, why is it that even though everyone is for better government, the political solution that will systemically improve government at all levels by neutralizing special interest’s control, is yet to be implemented?

    The People’s Branch is a reasonable and non-violent way for the people to regain control of government from special interest.

    To take up this cause…

    • Nikki

      They are all corrupt! They stay in more than 2 terms they are as corrupt at career politicians. I say get them all out. If they’re up for re-election they need to go. I am sick and tired of contacting my Senators and Reps and have them totally ignore me. They shouldn’t be fighting for what they want but what the “people” want and they seem to have forgotten that..

      So where do I sign up!!! No worries I know where to find it

  • clara

    I am a firm believer that any one can recover from any sickness just by using a proper nutrition, supplements, exersice and by cultivating some spiritual discipline into their life. FDA, stay away from regulating our personal choice of healing and caring for ourselves.

  • Ricia Reynolds

    I am eighty years old. I have not taken anything called a drug since 1976. Not any considered “OTC”
    or ohterwise. I do not buy any product made or put together by any leading commercial conpanies,i.e.,Kelloggs, General anything, Tyson, Perdue, Beatrice or ay one that uses artificial
    color, MSG, corn unless it is whole kernel, absolutly nothing low fat, lite, or any of the other phoney abstractions they use. Nothing in a frozen box.
    I go to holistic doctors for blood, urine, and hair analysis. Also a Dexa-scan as I am prone to have osteoporsis. I had a laundry list of problems before I started holistic health; now I have nothing that prevents me from doinf anything I did forty years ago. I do not have a wrinkle or crowfoot on my face.My hair is not gray.
    I have to end now the roof needs fixing.

    • jf micael

      It,s never to late to learn ps when you get done i could use some help on my roof . GOD BLESS

    • Fletcher R Millmore

      Ricia & Clara -I love you!
      That damned roof always wants fixing!
      And I do the same, having healed myself and others.
      No doctor, no health insurance – and I think it saved my life.
      66 and no meds, daughter 21 and never had a prescription, or a doctor visit other than routine baby/child checks.

    • Nikki

      Good for you Ricia! Now go fix that roof!

  • catherine gonzalez

    Do you have to be a New York State resident to oppose this, i.e., are there ways for other state residents to voice their opinion as this could easily effect other states in the long run?

  • Dr. R.

    This Is another stupid bill where people are clueless about supplements and the benefits!

    This is a constant reminder of who is attempting to run things. Can we look at the HARMFULdrugs/vaccines, etc? We should be really concerned!
    And Dr. Oz is not on the side of supplements! He does not help the natural profession!
    Naturopaths are highly trained to diagnose/treat the Whole person! We are also general practitioners, and treat with a larger scope of practice then conventional physicians, If necessary we can prescribe pharmaceuticals.

    Naturopaths graduate from one of the accredited 8 medical schools with more than enough training. to accommodate any patients needs!