Q. What are Natural Products Association’s legislative and regulatory priorities for dietary supplements?
A. This has been an awfully exciting year politically. Food safety is still pending, and that’s going to be first and foremost on our minds. We want to make sure there’s not anything redundant as far as [good manufacturing practices]. The Senate bill [on food safety] exempts supplements. The bill is good for produce, but finished products [including supplements] have to meet more stringent regulations for potency and purity.
We’re very supportive of Hatch-Harkin [the Dietary Supplement Full Implementation and Enforcement Act of 2010, cosponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, which gives the Food and Drug Administration additional resources to enforce industry regulations already on the books.] It provides a formal mechanism between the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FDA [for cracking down on anabolic steroids found in dietary supplements]. We’re going to work very hard to get people to sign on to this.
The second thing is the potential expansion [proposed by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif.] of the Federal Trade Commission’s rule-making authority as part of financial services reform. Whether you agree with the proposal or not, this should not be tacked onto financial services. The financial crisis is a Wall Street issue.
The proposal gives direct administrative authority to the FTC to write regulations and put them into effect. That would be troubling because they’re not the experts in a lot of areas, and it could put them at odds with the FDA and DSHEA, especially with advertising guidelines for things like supplements. The FDA has the scientific expertise.
Q. How will these issues affect manufacturers and retailers?
A. They shouldn’t have a large impact. On the supplement side, GMPs are already so stringent, the documentation is already in place and there isn’t anything that isn’t already required. These issues shouldn’t add any great additional burden.
Q. What’s on the horizon?
A. The big three were health care reform, financial services and food safety. After those three, it’s going to be awfully hard to read the tea leaves.
The [November] election will be front and center. It will be very heated. There are probably 140 House seats we’re keeping an eye on. And it’s not just Democrat vs. Republican. The atmosphere is very anti-Washington.
People need to get involved—write letters, go to fund-raisers, come to D.C. Talk to your representative right now. Let them know that you’re part of the industry and the industry votes.
The old saying is true: If you’re not in politics, you won’t be in business.