Virgo Announces Agenda, Speakers, Sponsors for 'Focus on the Future'

PHOENIX -- Virgo Publishing announced details of the second annual "Focus on the Future" Executive Conference and Retreat set for Jan. 28-30 in Scottsdale. The event draws leading executives from the dietary supplement and nutraceutical industry for high-level meetings, networking events and a private corporate tent at the PGA Phoenix Open.

"This conference is an ideal place for business leaders to discuss the many challenges and opportunities facing our industry," said Peggy Jackson, director of publishing at Virgo Publishing. "With critical issues such as threats to DSHEA, pending GMPs, bioterrorism regulations and biased media coverage, we expect a great turnout and an exceptional meeting."

Focus on the Future begins with a golf outing on Jan. 27 followed by an evening Poolside Welcome Reception sponsored by NSF International. The education program, sponsored by Kemin Foods, runs Jan. 28-29 from 9am to 4pm with Session Breaks sponsored by Unigen Pharmaceuticals. Several meals are included in the conference registration, including continental breakfast, lunch on Jan. 28 sponsored by E.T. Horn, dinner on Jan. 28 sponsored by Lonza, and lunch on Jan. 29 sponsored by Buckton Scott Nutrition.

Focus on the Future also includes a Dessert and Cordial Reception the evening of Jan. 29, and the conference concludes with a private VIP tent at the 18th hole of the PGA Phoenix Open on Jan. 30.

The education program features sessions addressing key areas affecting the industry's future, such as regulations, science, media, market trends and intellectual property. Confirmed sessions include the following:

FutureFocus One: "Regulations & Enforcement"
Lesley Fair, senior attorney, Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Division of Advertising Practices, will lead a discussion about advertising claims and substantiation. FTC activity in the area of dietary supplements has accelerated recently, including enforcement actions against 17 companies representing $1 billion in product sales since December. The agency has also focused attention on weight loss claims and claims made on the Internet.

FutureFocus Two: "Science & Research"
Paul M. Coates, Ph.D., director, Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health, will lead a discussion about the role of science and research in the future of dietary supplements. Dr. Coates will also discuss the ODS' Strategic Plan for 2004-2009 which is scheduled to be unveiled in late 2003. The mission of ODS is to strengthen knowledge and understanding of dietary supplements by evaluating scientific information, stimulating and supporting research, disseminating research results, and educating the public to foster an enhanced quality of life and health for the U.S. population. Information about ODS activities is available at

FutureFocus Three: "Media"
Michael Fumento, author/journalist/attorney and science columnist for Scripps Howard, will lead a discussion about the role that media plays in the future of the industry. Fumento is a frequent critic of how the media covers scientific issues, and his July 31 column "Leave Ephedra Alone" brought interesting perspective to a controversial issue (

Fumento's articles have been published in Readers' Digest, The Atlantic Monthly, Forbes, The New Republic, USA Weekend, The Washington Monthly, Reason, The Weekly Standard, National Review, Policy Review, The American Spectator, Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, The Sunday Times of London, The Sunday Telegraph of London, the Los Angeles Times, Investor's Business Daily, Washington Times, and the Chicago Tribune.

FutureFocus Four: "Market Trends"
Elizabeth Sloan, Ph.D., president, Sloan Trend's Solutions, will present the latest data on trends that are driving the future of the dietary supplement and nutraceutical markets. Dr. Sloan is the consumer and product trends editor for Food Technology magazine and the former editor-in-chief of McCall's magazine. Her firm offers trend-tracking and predictions, strategic counsel and new product and business-building ideas.

FutureFocus Five: "Intellectual Property"
Roger Wyse, Ph.D., managing director, Burrill & Company, and Gail Montgomery, president and CEO, Nutrition 21, will lead a discussion of the role that intellectual property plays in the industry's future.

Burrill & Company ( sponsors and manages a family of venture capital funds, including the Burrill Nutraceuticals Capital Fund, with more than $340 million under management. Nutrition 21 is a publicly traded company (NASDAQ: NXXI) dedicated to improving health and quality-of-life through research-based dietary supplements. Nutrition 21's ability to identify, develop and successfully market patented products provides a degree of competitive insulation in the marketplace, and is a competency infrequently cultivated in the nutrition industry.

FutureFocus Six: "Overview and Discussion"
Jon Benninger, director of business development, Virgo Publishing, will lead an open-format session addressing the subjects covered at the conference. Benninger is vice president of the Dietary Supplement Education Alliance (DSEA) and an active member of the American Herbal Products Association, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, the National Nutritional Foods Association and other industry groups.

"Focus on the Future" will again be held at the Millennium Resort at McCormick Ranch, Scottsdale's only lakeside boutique resort. Average temperatures in Scottsdale at the end of January are in the 70s, and participants are encouraged to bring their spouses.

More information about Focus on the Future 2004 is available at, or by calling Virgo Publishing at (480) 990-1101.

Focus on the Future is produced by Phoenix, Ariz.-based Virgo Publishing Inc., publisher of Natural Products Industry INSIDER and HSR: Health Supplement Retailer and producer of the SupplySide trade shows.


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