Washington, D.C., September 22, 2016—The Puerto Rico Secretary of Health, Ana Ríus Armendáriz, M.D., announced this week that the Department of Health will not enforce Administrative Order (AO) 346 at this time, advising she will now go through proper channels of notice, including a hearing, followed by a comment and rule making period later this year. CRN’s Mike Greene, who has been in Puerto Rico this week connecting with the Puerto Rico Department of Health, legislators, retailer interests and the Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the announcement, stating, “We’re very encouraged that the Secretary is open to dialoguing with businesses and industry about this situation. AO 346 would have a detrimental effect, both on consumers, who would be faced with higher prices on supplement products that are important for their health, and on businesses that contribute to the local economy.”
In February, when the issue first came to light, CRN immediately began building coalitions, including one with the Puerto Rico Retailers Association, whose members and members’ customers, along with CRN’s manufacturers, would be negatively impacted. “Our goal is to find common ground and mutual solutions. We understand there are concerns about dangerous spiked products being illegally sold as dietary supplements, and we share that concern. It’s important, however, to separate the legitimate industry that manufactures and markets healthful products, such as multivitamins, calcium, fish oil and more, from those companies that are selling products that are illegal drugs, not legal dietary supplements. The fact is AO 346 would not solve the problem of illegal products, but it would instead harm companies, raise prices and inappropriately limit consumer access to popular and beneficial supplements,” said Mr. Greene.
CRN’s boots-on-the-ground strategy turns out to have been the right one. “We focused on what was happening in Puerto Rico in the same way we address our state issues,” advised Mr. Greene. “Go directly to the source, get into the field, find out where the concerns lie, and determine how we can work together to protect both consumers and industry.”
Mr. Greene further advised, “We are very pleased with this outcome and will continue to cooperate and communicate with those in Puerto Rico who have an ongoing stake in this issue. We will continue to explain our concerns about AO 346 and appreciate that there is now a public process in place. Our priority is to ensure that consumers continue to have access to safe, beneficial and affordable dietary supplements as part of people’s interest in promoting and maintaining good health. If we can help in solving the problem of drugs masquerading as supplements, we’re open to those conversations as well.”