CRN Responds to the American Medical Association's New Policy on Dietary Supplements

Washington, D.C., November 19, 2020—In response to a new policy on dietary supplements issued by the American Medical Association's (AMA),"AMA policy calls for increased regulation of dietary supplements," the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association for the dietary supplement and functional food industry, issued the following statement: 

Statement by Steve Mister, president & CEO, CRN:

“It’s easy at moments like this to accentuate the differences between CRN’s perspective and the American Medical Association’s (AMA) just-released policy on dietary supplements. But it’s more constructive to emphasize instead the many areas in which we agree, and CRN invites the AMA to have a constructive dialogue with us on the differences. Like CRN, the AMA’s new policy statement calls for increased enforcement of the current law, the removal of unsafe products from the market, and truthful labeling of products. The AMA statement shares CRN’s strong support for establishing a mandatory product listing for supplements, improving label literacy to help consumers better understand the products they take, and for open-minded, better-informed dialogues between healthcare practitioners and their patients about supplement usage.

We strongly agree with the AMA that a mandatory product listing would create a stronger and safer marketplace of responsible companies. With a mandatory listing, FDA could better identify when new products are introduced and act more quickly to remove illegal products from the market. CRN also continues to advocate for increased resources to the agency, so it can bolster enforcement action against companies that do not comply with federal regulation.

As fellow supporters of label literacy, CRN launched an education campaign in 2019, Label Wise, to inform consumers of upcoming dietary supplement label changes and to encourage overall label literacy. We share the respect for a strong adverse event reporting system, which we note that CRN helped to enact in 2006, and has provided useful signals to the agency of potential safety issues, and demonstrates the industry’s commitment to maintaining a safe marketplace.

Where we have disagreements with the AMA policy, CRN believes a candid and honest discussion can lead to better understanding. For instance, the AMA calls for policies that promote innovation in the supplement market, but inconsistent with that goal, it calls for eliminating “proprietary blends” from the label (which actually does require a full listing of ingredients, just not their amounts). That allowance protects unique product formulations from copycats and is one of the few aspects of the law that guards innovative advancements by product formulators. And the AMA statement omits any expression of support for a master file framework proposed by CRN that would reward innovation in new dietary ingredients.

We welcome having more advocates for measures we support and hope that the AMA’s renewed interest in dietary supplements will allow us to educate their members and staff about our own label literacy program (Label Wise), our voluntary version of a label registry (the Supplement OWL), and our efforts to persuade Congress to allocate more resources to FDA’s Office of Dietary Supplement Programs (ODSP). These are all initiatives the AMA could promote within the medical community and they are areas of alignment that advance the safety and benefits of our products for the three quarters of Americans who rely on dietary supplements to support their health and wellness.”

Note to Editor: The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973, is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing 180+ dietary supplement and functional food manufacturers, ingredient suppliers, and companies providing services to those manufacturers and suppliers. In addition to complying with a host of federal and state regulations governing dietary supplements and food in the areas of manufacturing, marketing, quality control and safety, our manufacturer and supplier members also agree to adhere to additional voluntary guidelines as well as to CRN’s Code of Ethics. Visit Follow us on Twitter @CRN_Supplements, and LinkedIn.