NEW YORK This kind of news is more notable for what it doesn’t mean than what it means. And what it doesn’t mean is good news for the dietary supplement industry, because what it doesn’t mean is the industry is “unregulated,” or even “loosely regulated,” for those of you keeping track of how often reporters on some of the major dailies get it wrong.
Because what it doesn’t mean is that, even within the confines of its budget, the Food and Drug Administration has allowed regulation of dietary supplements to play second-fiddle to anything else. Indeed, this FDA quite possibly is the most active in regulating the supplement industry as a supplement industry than any of its predecessor administrations. And it’s only been 10 months.
There are a number of factors coming together that ought to get the blood pumping for any retailer or supplier in the industry — the FDA has been utilizing new regulatory tools to help enforce rules, such as codified good manufacturing practices or mandatory serious adverse event reporting, for example; there now is a greater recognition that even if an unscrupulous manufacturer adulterates a product with erectile dysfunction drugs, steroids or weight-loss drugs, these products are illegally marketed drug products, not supplements (in other words, calling something a supplement no longer makes it so); and finally, industry associations, the Council for Responsible Nutrition and the Natural Products Association to name two, have been becoming aggressively proactive in the past few years to help increase awareness of the need and actual regulation of the industry, as well as the need and/or benefits around supplements.
All of this will make for safer supplements going forward. But more important, it will make for the perception of safer supplements. Take that greater confidence in the product, combine it with an aging population actively looking for science-based solutions to growing old, and you have a recipe for a category that has so much more room to grow.