Editorial: The cost of success

By Len Monheit

It remains to be seen whether CRN’s call to action and bid for a proactive industry approach effectively galvanizes companies in this sector to take responsibility for the present state of the sector. John Cordaro’s speech to launch the CRN Annual Conference in Savannah earlier this week directly attacked major issues confronting the industry and showed that CRN had a plan, by all indications, a good plan to uncover major industry flaws and attempt to deal with them head on.

Not hiding behind words, Cordaro stated, “the dietary supplements industry is on the cusp of failure,… we may not be able to maintain the components of DSHEA suitable for supporting a positive regulatory environment for responsible manufacturers.” He went on to say that “the current state of affairs is not someone else’s fault.” Cordaro also pointed out that the existence of several trade associations, all pressed for cash, with several overlapping activities and mandates is a concern.

CRN has identified key issues which the industry must address, suggesting that PR alone is not the answer. Fundamental changes especially in self-policing and self-regulation are critical, otherwise mandatory pre-market approval and a very unpleasant business and regulatory environment are almost a certainty.

The press release issued by CRN (NPIcenter press release) and the complete speech from the conference are both available (www.crnusa.org) and should be read by anyone committed to the success of the industry.

Mr. Cordaro indicated that response, both during and after the speech, was positive, warm and encouraging. In fact, not one negative response was observed. Cordaro admitted that there had been no interaction with other trade associations about his comments this week, but pointed out that the issue of a confederation of industry associations was a very narrow part of his comments and that larger issues such as claims, safety and rational formulation were more pressing concerns.

Although there are several points raised in the speech text, there are a few key points which deserve attention including:

  • The establishment of a framework to ensure that there is scientific evidence that an ingredient or combination of ingredients in formulation is both effective in achieving the benefit implied and has no risk of adverse effect
  • The establishment of substantiation guidelines for dietary supplement claims.

Although the task ahead will be daunting, the statement and commitment of CRN should be applauded. The plan won’t come without a cost, a significant cost. The point is made very effectively that the cost of inaction, of not taking strong significant steps is higher than the cost CRN members and the industry as a whole will ultimately be asked to bear.

Obviously, there are more steps to be taken and questions to be answered but it is a solid step for the industry that these issues are right on the table for they really do represent the crux of the matter. And it’s interesting to note that some of these are the same concerns expressed by regulatory agencies, consumers and even potential investors in our industry.
Now let’s start dealing with them together.

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