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Looking Ahead: Will 2023 Be a Year for Natural Health?

Looking Ahead: Will 2023 Be a Year for Natural Health?
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With your help, we were able to register some of the most important victories of the last decade in 2022; let’s keep it up in 2023!

In our 2022 Natural Health Advocacy Year in Review, we described some of the important work we did in 2022 to defend your access to natural health options. We spent much of the year fighting Senator Dick Durbin’s (D-IL) anti-supplement policy known as “mandatory product listing” for dietary supplements, and our efforts paid off—Sen. Durbin’s policy did not move forward. You can read our 2022 review article to catch up on other important victories from last year. While we celebrate these accomplishments, we can’t rest on our laurels. Looking forward to 2023, there will be some important battles coming up that we cannot win without the dedicated engagement of our grassroots activists.

ANH believes in the sovereignty of the individual to make informed decisions regarding their health. The freedom to make these decisions is being jeopardized by drug companies, the government, Big Food, Big Ag, and other special interests. Big Pharma tries to monopolize natural ingredients so they can sell us expensive drugs. The FDA and other federal agencies are threatening supplements, homeopathy, and compounded medicines. Chemical companies produce poisons that pollute our soil, food, water, and air, as well as many common consumer products. Big Ag uses GMOs and pesticides like glyphosate to produce a few commodity crops (like corn) that are helping to drive the epidemic of chronic disease. And when integrative doctors try to inform us about the benefits natural medicine provides in countering these assaults, they are censored by aggressive state medical boards committed to maintaining the status quo.

ANH is here to fight for your right to live naturally. We need to be able to choose the natural health modalities that best fit our health needs. We need access to clean, healthy food. We need to clamp down on environmental toxins that are becoming ubiquitous in the modern world. We need to start turning from chemical-laden industrial agriculture to a regenerative approach that improves the health of the soil, the planet, and humanity. In 2023, we will build on last year’s progress to educate the public on these issues, advocate for sensible political solutions at the state and federal level, and, where appropriate, use the legal system to enact change.

But many challenges stand before us.

Congress remains deadlocked. In the 2022 midterms, Democrats lost control of the House but retain a slim majority in the Senate. A divided Congress means it is difficult to enact major changes to current policy. But we still must be on the lookout for bad policies (like Sen. Durbin’s “mandatory product listing” for supplements) hidden in larger pieces of must-pass legislation because they lack the political support to pass on their own. A divided Congress makes it difficult for our opponents to get what they want, but it also makes it a challenge to enact proactive reforms that ANH supports, such as a bill allowing expanded free speech about the benefits of supplements, a bill to stop the FDA back-channel that allows natural substances like NMN to be turned into monopoly drugs, or a bill to protect access to homeopathic medicines. There may be obstacles, but ANH will continue to “hit the pavement” in Congress, educating members about these critical issues and building political support for reforms to promote and protect your access to natural health options.

In 2023, we already know that Sen. Durbin plans to reintroduce and continue to fight for mandatory product listing for supplements—and we’ll be ready. As we’ve explained in previous coverage, we believe this policy is a step towards restricting vitamin doses in supplements, a process that is already well underway in Europe. We will be prepared to oppose Sen. Durbin in 2023 as we’ve done in previous years.

Other threats to your supplement access come from the FDA. The agency said it planned to release its new draft of the terrible “new supplement” guidance by December 2022, but December came and went and no guidance was released, meaning there’s a good chance that the agency will finish it in 2023. It is no exaggeration to say that this is the most dangerous threat to supplements we’ve seen in decades, because it seeks to impose a drug-like pre-approval system on supplements that would eliminate an estimated 41,700 products from the market. We continue to vehemently oppose the guidance as currently written and demand that substantial changes are made before the final version is released. We will be watching the FDA closely and will update you when the guidance is finally released.

Another major issue for ANH in 2023 alluded to above is closing the loophole at the FDA that allows natural substances to be turned into monopoly drugs. A back-channel exists at the FDA that allows supplements that the FDA considers “new” (those that came to the market after 1994) to be turned into drugs while the supplement form is banned forever. As a result of this loophole, CBD, NMN, L-glutamine, vinpocetine, and other supplement ingredients are at risk of permanent elimination from the market—the pyridoxamine form of vitamin B6 has already been banned through this mechanism. The FDA announced late in 2022 that NMN, a precursor to NAD and thus a crucial longevity supplement, is not a legal supplement ingredient because a drug company, MetroBiotech, started investigating NMN as a drug before it was sold as a supplement. Despite this declaration, it appears that NMN is still available as a supplement, so it remains to be seen if the FDA will actively clear the market to enforce its position. CBD is in a similar regulatory limbo: the FDA has declared that it is not a legal supplement, but has not swept the market of CBD supplements, instead focusing enforcement actions against CBD companies making illegal health claims.

In 2023, we plan to fight in Congress for a reform to this broken system. Congress will have to pass a new Farm Bill in 2023, which is an important opportunity to fight for an exemption for CBD so it can be legally sold as a supplement (the legalization of hemp was part of the 2018 Farm Bill). We will also support the reintroduction of bills that would specifically allow CBD to be sold as a supplement. In addition, ANH plans to build support for a bill that will allow NMN to be sold as a supplement and to permanently close the loophole at the FDA that allows natural products to become drugs. 

We think 2023 will be an important year for homeopathy. Late in 2022, the FDA released a final version of their homeopathy policy which states that, technically speaking, all homeopathic products are illegally in the market—but the FDA plans to prioritize going after certain categories of products such as injectable products, products with safety issues, products intended for serious conditions or vulnerable populations, etc. We expect the FDA to flex some muscle in enforcing its final guidance in 2023. We will be working on Capitol Hill to build support for legislation that protects access to homeopathic products.

In 2023, we will also be on the defensive to protect access to compounded medications. As you likely remember, a major win for us in 2022 was the FDA’s Pharmacy Compounding Advisory Committee (PCAC) voting against the FDA’s recommendation to ban compounded glutathione. While the PCAC’s recommendation does not ensure the FDA will agree to continue to permit compounded glutathione, it will be very difficult for the FDA to go against this PCAC recommendation.

Despite this win, we still have an uphill battle in 2023 as the FDA is actively attacking personalized compounded medications. In September, the FDA declared natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) to be a “biologic” and thus ineligible for pharmacy compounding, and we know it will be a challenge to even protect access to the prescription Armour Thyroid and other NDT drugs. Natural thyroid medicines are still available, but the clock is ticking: the law deeming NDT a biologic applies not just to the compounded form but also the commercially available products like Armour, Nature-Throid, and Westhroid. In 7-8 years, expensive randomized controlled trials will have to be conducted on NDT for it to remain available.

ANH also continues to fight the FDA as they march toward a ban of compounded bioidentical hormones such as estriol. The FDA and PCAC are moving slowly; we don’t know when the committee will consider estriol, but the FDA’s intentions to ban estriol have been made abundantly clear. ANH will continue to highlight this issue and engage with the FDA when the opportunity presents itself.

ANH also plans to continue engaging on the state level to support access to natural health options. This includes our work to promote vaccine choice by opposing bills that take away exemptions or mandate certain vaccines, opposing bills that aim to put certain supplements behind store counters with exaggerated, dire warnings, and, most concerning of all, bills that allow state medical boards to target doctors who disseminate medical “misinformation” like the one that passed in California. We can expect more bills like this to be considered in 2023, especially in “blue” states. As always, ANH will alert you to bills of concern as they relate to your natural health access.

ANH is also committed to fighting for a toxic-free world. We will continue to push for bans on dangerous PFAS chemicals, particularly as we continue to learn more and more about how pervasive these chemicals are in the modern world. We will also continue to educate the public about the dangers of endocrine disrupting chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, and other environmental exposures.

We will further explore the intersection between regenerative agriculture and natural health. We’ve written about the critical importance of soil health for healthy, nutritious food, but our increasing reliance on industrialized agriculture with its reliance on chemical inputs and genetic engineering is destroying the soil. We plan to focus on the disturbing development of genetically modified soil microbes that have the potential to cause a catastrophic ecological disaster. 

We appreciate your support and advocacy to help us protect your natural health options. In 2023, please consider sharing our newsletter articles and action alerts with your friends and family who also care about natural health so that they can also be informed and involved in amplifying our efforts.

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