Durbin, Blumenthal introduce supplement amendments to military bill

Supplement use is prevalent in the armed forces, as noted in a recent HBO documentary that highlighted some controversial products.

Josh Long, Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider

June 5, 2015

2 Min Read
Durbin, Blumenthal introduce supplement amendments to military bill

Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) have introduced three amendments to an appropriations bill that are aimed at regulating supplements within the military.

The amendments are said to be among more than 100 that have been introduced to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). As of Thursday afternoon, the supplement-related amendments were not scheduled to be voted on and consequently faced a slim prospect of being included in a final bill, according to a source in Washington. The NDAA is legislation to authorize the budget authority of the U.S. Defense Department.

Supplement use is prevalent in the armed forces, as noted in a recent HBO documentary that profiled some controversial products linked to death and serious illness.

One amendment would create a system to collect data on the use of supplements by military members and adverse events associated with such products, while a separate one would require the Defense Department to develop a policy for each member of the armed forces to report his or her use of supplements.

A final amendment would require that supplements sold at military bases be verified by a third party for meeting standards or comply with an inventory policy set by the Defense Commissary Agency, an agency of the Defense Department.

Although the amendments aren’t currently the prominent ones being considered for the NDAA, the supplement industry is keeping a close eye on the developments on Capitol Hill.

“Anytime Senator Durbin or Blumenthal work on dietary supplement issues or introduce amendments related to dietary supplements, CRN takes it seriously," said Mike Greene, vice president of government relations with the Council for Responsible Nutrition, in a phone interview.

Christina Mulka, a spokeswoman for Durbin, said there have been no requests yet for co-sponsors to the amendments.

“Senator Durbin’s interest in this issue goes back over a decade when he [was] working to have Ephedra banned after a number of military deaths related to that dietary supplement," she said Thursday in an emailed statement. “Senator Durbin saw an opportunity on this legislation to put forward his ideas, a lot of which is not new."

Representatives for Blumenthal and two senators who are considered advocates to the supplement industry—Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico)—did not respond Thursday to requests for comment.

About the Author(s)

Josh Long

Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider, Informa Markets Health and Nutrition

Josh Long directs the online news, feature and op-ed coverage at Natural Products Insider, which targets the health and wellness industry. He has been reporting on developments in the dietary supplement industry for over a decade, with a focus on regulatory issues, including at the Food and Drug Administration.

He has moderated and/or presented at industry trade shows, including SupplySide East, SupplySide West, Natural Products Expo West, NBJ Summit and the annual Dietary Supplement Regulatory Summit.

Connect with Josh on LinkedIn and ping him with story ideas at [email protected]

Education and previous experience

Josh majored in journalism and graduated from Arizona State University the same year "Jake the Snake" Plummer led the Sun Devils to the Rose Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes. He also holds a J.D. from the University of Wyoming College of Law, was admitted in 2008 to practice law in the state of Colorado and spent a year clerking for a state district court judge.

Over more than a quarter century, he’s written on various topics for newspapers and business-to-business publications – from the Yavapai in Arizona and a controversial plan for a nuclear-waste incinerator in Idaho to nuanced issues, including FDA enforcement of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA).

Since the late 1990s, his articles have been published in a variety of media, including but not limited to, the Cape Cod Times (in Massachusetts), Sedona Red Rock News (in Arizona), Denver Post (in Colorado), Casper Star-Tribune (in Wyoming), now-defunct Jackson Hole Guide (in Wyoming), Colorado Lawyer (published by the Colorado Bar Association) and Nutrition Business Journal.

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