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Yet Another Sneak Attack on Supplements from Blumenthal and Durbin

Courtesy of our allies at Alliance for Natural Health

This time it’s been slipped into a defense bill. Major Action Alert – Send Your Letter Now!

We suspected it would only be a matter of time before Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) launched his next broadside against supplements. Once again, Durbin and his allies, including Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), are pouncing on must-pass legislation and attaching last-minute amendments that would threaten Americans’ access to supplements.

The bill this time is the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an appropriations bill to fund the military for FY 2016. The House passed its version of the bill in May. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) introduced what is called “an amendment in the nature of a substitute” to create a Senate version of the House-passed bill. The Blumenthal/Durbin amendments were introduced on top of the McCain legislation.

Because it is a defense bill, the Blumenthal/Durbin amendments pertain to the supplement use of the US armed forces.

There are three amendments.

The first amendment would require military electronic health records to include data regarding supplement adverse events experienced by servicemen and women. This type of information is already gathered by the FDA, which is much better situated to handle it than the Department of Defense. This additional data collection is redundant and cumbersome. In 2011, Sen. Durbin and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) asked the Government Accounting Office to review supplement adverse event reports (AERs). In 2013 the GAO completed its report—which overwhelmingly demonstrated that supplements are safe! Why in the world is Durbin following the same tactic that embarrassed him so completely two years ago?

According to the resulting GAO report, there were a total of 6,307 AERs reported to the FDA between 2008 and 2011—an average of 1,575 a year. At the time, we pointed out that this was quite a low number, considering the fact that about half of Americans—157 million people—take supplements. This means that one-hundredth of one percent of all supplement users ever experience any problems at all.

If Sens. Waxman and Durbin had cared to search out where the real danger lies for the American consumer, they wouldn’t have had to look very hard. In 2008 alone, there were a whopping 526,527 AERs for FDA-approved drugs, with 275,421 considered serious. Of course, the astonishingly poor safety record of pharmaceutical drugs is irrelevant if you have a vendetta against supplements, as Sen. Durbin and his allies seem to have.

The second amendment would require the Department of Defense to establish minimum requirements for members of the armed forces to report on their supplement use. Service people would be ordered to report what vitamins and supplements they take—which means they could easily be ordered to stop taking them! It is simply Orwellian to have members of the military report on their supplement use. What business is it of the government if a service member is taking vitamin D, or B12? Big Brother shouldn’t be able to reach into your toiletries kit or control what you tell your doctor—even on a military base.

The third and most troubling of the amendments would extend a currently existing policy which regulates certain supplements on military bases to require all supplements that are to be sold 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, but it is anything but.

First, supplements must already, by law, hold to current good manufacturing practices (CGMPs), which require that that they 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: 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 already fully regulated by the FDA and FTC. These amendments are misguided attempts 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 die from taking dietary supplements.

We’ve come to expect this sort of maneuver from Durbin and company: what can’t be accomplished through more conventional democratic means, they try to accomplish through sneaky, eleventh-hour maneuvering before the public can catch wind of it. This military appropriations bill has nearly 200 amendments attached to it, and not all of them will be discussed by the Senate. With your help, we hope to prevent the Blumenthal/Durbin amendments from ever being considered on the Senate floor. The natural health community has responded vigorously to defeat previous Durbin attacks against supplements: in one instance, our readers sent nearly 90,000 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 the Blumenthal/Durbin amendments, which will take dangerous steps towards limiting consumers’ access to dietary supplements.

A vote can come any day – Please send your message immediately!

Capitol Wellness Expo – February 7, 2013

Capitol Wellness Expo

Exhibits, Speakers, Networking

February 7, 2013

10:00a to 5:30p, Cannon House Office Building, Rooms 121 and 122.

Free Admission. All are welcome.

Please take a moment to forward this flyer to your Representative and Senators. Ask them to send someone from their offices, and to post the flyer.

Click here to find contact information for your Representative and Senators.


February 6, 2013  6:30-9pm  Program Opening and Citizen Healer Orientation & Dinner

February 7, 2013  10am-5:30pm  Capitol Wellness Expo 2013 – agenda

February 8, 2013  12noon-5pm  HEALTH on the Hill – Technology Healing Education Fair – more info

The Expo is in tandem with the February 6-8 HOPE on the Hill sponsored by Voice for HOPE.  More at HOPE programs on the Hill

The most convenient hotel is the Capitol Hill Hotel at 200 C Street SE, Washington, DC, 202-543-6000.  See also HOPE accommodations BLOG.

A Practical Approach to Military PTSD

By James S. Gordon, MD., founder and director of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine. He is the author of Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression.

“It’s time to commit to programs that will serve our troops with the same fidelity with which they serve us.

Since 2001, more United States troops have died from suicide than have been killed in Afghanistan. The Army estimates that up to 20 percent of those deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan — half a million men and women — will suffer the disabling agitation, nightmares, and emotional withdrawal that characterize post traumatic stress. Military leaders, the Secretary of Defense, the President, and Congress speak of the gravity of the problem and the inadequacy of present approaches to care.”

Dr. Gordon goes on to note that solutions to PTSD proposed by Department of Defense and Institute of Medicine experts are reasonable, but fall short, and may actually alienate those they’re intended to help. Read more of his insightful commentary derived from more than two decades of experience in issues of psychological healing – check out the full article here.

Tell the DLA to Reverse Its Decision re DMAA on Military Bases!

Washington, D.C. — At the end of last year, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) – the military’s largest logistics combat support agency – issued a notification prohibiting The Army and Air Force Exchange Service, as well as GNC retail stores located on military bases, from selling dietary supplements that contain 1,3-dimethylamylamine (DMAA). This action was taken following the deaths of two soldiers who purportedly used DMAA-containing dietary supplements, even though the Department of Defense has acknowledged that a link between DMAA and the medical conditions reported has not been established.

Citizens for Health understands the Department of Defense’s desire to protect the health and safety of our military personnel. However, the answer is not to pull legally-marketed products from shelves before an investigation has been conducted to determine whether DMAA-containing products caused or contributed to the medical complications experienced by the soldiers. Rather, DLA made the premature and unsubstantiated decision to ban the sale of DMAA-containing products on its bases, based largely on media reports fueled by competitive interests. While an investigation is currently pending, DLA’s notification currently lacks scientific support and deals with issues that do not properly fall under its jurisdiction.

Please sign the petition now!

DMAA-containing dietary supplements are legally sold in the United States and regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA’s stringent requirements – including the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990, good manufacturing practice regulations, and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act – ensure the safety of dietary supplements.

Moreover, the safety of these products is independently supported by several peer-reviewed scientific studies, which the makers of products containing DMAA have made publicly available. Given the foregoing, we question why DLA’s notification was issued in the first place. The only thing DLA has done is needlessly interfere with the consumer’s right to purchase legal dietary supplements.

Such rights should not be infringed by DLA, especially in the absence of scientific evidence demonstrating a causal link between consumption of DMAA and medical complications. Citizens for Health calls on the Department of Defense to immediately rescind DLA’s notification and reinstate military personnel access to DMAA-containing products.

In the coming weeks, we will provide further updates as this situation unfolds. In the interim, Citizens for Health asks you to join us, the health freedom community, and concerned Americans everywhere in the campaign to get DLA’s notification rescinded and the free enterprise system restored on military bases.

If you agree that the Department of Defense should not interfere with military consumers’ right to purchase lawful dietary supplements, sign our petition now!