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New Hope 360 Blog

The supplement industry's biggest mistake

August has arrived
, and with it comes NBJ’s Animal Nutrition Industry Overview issue, which is set to publish shortly.

As is typical of coverage of the animal nutrition market, our first phone call tends to go out to Mr. Bill Bookout, president of the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC). He's a veritable industry Moses when it comes to leading pet supplement manufacturers and brand owners towards regulatory compliance.

I’ve said before that the human supplement industry could take a tip from the NASC, which has essentially carved out a regulatory category for an industry that never had one to begin with. Animal supplements, for dogs, cats, horses and other pets, are essentially unapproved animal drugs, and Bookout works to keep businesses compliant with regulators as to their claims and formulations, to an extent that is unmatched on the human side.

Bookout and I had an interesting conversation. He suggested to me that part of his organization’s success came out of battling adversity. Pet supplements were written out of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994, and just as the market began to pick up steam, FDA threatened to shut the industry down in the early 2000s, prompting the formation of NASC. Through what Bookout likes to refer to as “a process of continuous improvement,” his organization has helped keep pet supplement companies compliant and transparent with regulators, creating a systemt that is not perfect, but viable.

Conversely, he told me, “The biggest mistake that the human dietary supplement industry ever made was in looking at DSHEA as a utopia, not as a platform for continuous improvement.”

It’s a good point. Flash forward 17 years, NDI guidance drops, and industry explodes with disparate, millenarian outcries of supplement Armageddon.

Now the NASC has an advantage, as it represents about 90% of its industry by sales volume, and thus offers one sober, unified voice. The human supplement industry, on the other hand, is about 20 times larger, with many trade organizations all stumping at once, potentially confusing each others’ messages.

However, just this morning, feature that five major trade organizations—the Council for Responsible Nutrition, the American Herbal Products Association, the Natural Products Association, the United Natural Products Alliance, and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association—all working together, formulated a message requesting that FDA extend the comment period for NDI guidance an extra 45 days.

Now that’s good collaboration. If supplement leaders stay active, not complacent, and work towards one unified voice, industry need not fear its regulators. Let's hope the trade organizations follow through and formulate and deliver those NDI comments to FDA as one.

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