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New York State Advancing Legislation for Dietary Supplement Labels and Claims Documentation

The New York State Assembly is advancing legislation (A2762) that would impose potentially onerous health claims substantiation requirements on retailers. It also would require product labels or promotional materials to include, among other things, FDA’s toll free telephone number and internet website, and set civil penalties for violations.

“This legislation is misguided in its intent and problematic for AHPA members who do business in New York,” said AHPA President Michael McGuffin. “AHPA is therefore organizing an opposition strategy.”

More than a dozen AHPA members participated in a tele-conference on Wednesday, May 26, to learn the bill’s potential impact and to consider what action to take.

“The bill summary sets the tone for discussion on the floor,” said Marc Ullman, attorney with the New York law firm of Ullman, Shapiro & Ullman, who facilitated the tele-conference. “Right now, the herbal industry is being identified as the bad guys, and this bill raises many concerns for this industry because it’s hazy in some parts and onerous in others. Anyone who sells dietary supplements in New York should be concerned.”

The bill, originally introduced in January 2003, passed through the Assembly Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee on Wednesday, May 19, 2004, and was referred to the Assembly Codes Committee, the last stop before reaching the floor.

The bill’s primary sponsor (Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, Democrat of the 51st Assembly District) has a history of getting “pro-consumer” legislation passed over the industry objections (most recently hands free cell phone when driving). Given that this bill was passed out of committee this late in the session, it is likely to go further. The bill’s sponsors justify it by citing “the absence of adequate federal oversight and regulation” in the bill summary.

The bill would require retailers to verify that the manufacturers have “adequate substantiation” for any claims. The bill’s definition of adequate substantiation is vague. “If New York decides to impose the pharmaceutical gold standard to substantiate claims, most products would be in a bind, especially multi-ingredient products,” Ullman said.

The best plan, he continued, is to build a coalition for lobby efforts. Industry members who wish to learn more and join efforts should contact either Karen Robin or Marc Ullman
The text of the bill and its justification is easily accessed online through the New York State Assembly website, Key in A2762 at the Quick Bill Search for Bill Summary, and to link to the Bill Text.


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