CRN’s Supplement OWL goes live
One year after the project was formally announced, the Council for Responsible Nutrition’s Supplement OWL initiative became a reality this spring when the online product registry went live. A resource for regulators, retailers and the industry, the OWL is an industry-wide, self-regulatory initiative that will help create a rich and more complete picture of the marketplace, and can be accessed by anyone.
“Transparency is important,” Steve Mister, president and CEO of CRN, told Drug Store News, especially as the Food and Drug Administration realigns its field inspectors by industry as opposed to geographic centrality. “Particularly as the dietary supplement [or good manufacturing practices] get more and more intricate and we get down to the minutia, we need people who understand that level of detail. [The FDA] has repeatedly said they see value in [OWL] and will use it as a tool.”
With the launch, the Supplement OWL is widely accessible for examination. All companies can test-drive the product registry, and retailers can begin to use it to evaluate products on their shelves. As of May 18, 55 brands and 3,015 labels were visible in the OWL. Additional manufacturers are registering their products daily.
“The FDA has only so many resources to enforce the law, which is why an industrywide self-regulatory initiative, such as the Supplement OWL, is critical,” Christine Burdick-Bell, Pharmavite’s VP and general counsel, told DSN. “To better enforce the law, regulators have stated a need for more information about the products in our market, and the Supplement OWL demonstrates that mainstream industry is taking great strides to meet this need.”
More than being responsible industry participants in the eyes of regulators, the Supplement OWL also serves a consumer need, Burdick-Bell stated. “By participating in the Supplement OWL, we are demonstrating our commitment to transparency and protecting consumers, and to advancing the industry through self-regulation.”
The Supplement OWL offers two tiers of information. Participation in Tier 1 does not carry a charge, and includes an image of the product, a complete product label and other fields of information mostly obtained from the label itself. For a fee, Tier 2 allows companies to upload additional supporting information and documentation about their products, and to choose who will have access to that information — down to the retailer or regulator.
(Click here to view the full Special Report: Weight management, sports nutrition and vitamin)