One year ago, our country entered a period of unknowns.
We began 2017 with an uproarious question mark, unsure of what to expect from a new administration and its newly appointed leadership across government bodies. Here we are one year later, and, for the dietary supplement industry, the question mark of 2017 has evolved into a promising ellipsis that will allow us to continue the trajectory we’ve led to raise the bar for the industry. To maintain this forward momentum, we’ll need to make tough decisions, take responsible action and demonstrate a united effort. There are some promising signs.
The Council for Responsible Nutrition was encouraged last month when Reps. Andy Harris (R-MD), Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and David Young (R-IA) penned a letter to FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, commending the agency for its enforcement actions against manufacturers of dietary supplement products that contain potentially harmful ingredients. CRN wholeheartedly supported the letter and applauded the ways it demonstrated to FDA congressional interest in and understanding of dietary supplement regulation. The letter recognized that while dietary supplements, “enter the market under the assumption that they are safe,” FDA plays an important role in enforcing the regulation that can identify when products are not meeting the agency’s standards. The letter clearly affirmed products adulterated with active pharmaceutical ingredients are not only illegal but pose potential risks to consumers. CRN couldn’t agree more.
While the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act has served as a solid foundation for modern industry, the law must be fully enforced in order to reach its full potential. CRN has long advocated for increased funding for FDA, and this is especially important now that the agency’s Dietary Supplement Division has been elevated to the Office of Dietary Supplement Products. The representatives’ letter questioned how FDA would allocate increased funding—were Congress to provide it—and recognized that FDA has more work to do. Congress will want to be sure that any added funding is put to good use.
Speaking on behalf of responsible industry, we appreciate our allies on the Hill asking FDA to be transparent about how it does what it does, and what the cost is to use its resources. Regulation must be straightforward, efficient and clearly communicated, and, with increased transparency, FDA can offer legislators who hold the purse strings a window to understand the reasons behind its choices. In an era of fewer regulation, we need to make sure we’re able to make the most of the ones we have.
From CRN’s perspective, the ODSP must receive increased funding to remove bad actors from the market. By separating those companies ignoring the laws from those respecting and embracing them, the office will ensure greater protection for the 76 percent of Americans who depend on and trust our products, and for the responsible companies that manufacture them.
Mike Greene is senior vice president, government relations, at Council for Responsible Nutrition, a leading trade association for the dietary supplement and functional food industry.