Convergence is key to crisis aversion, says CRN

By Staff Reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Industry Scientific method

The supplements industry needs to anticipate potential crises and
act strategically to shape the climate - before the climate shapes
the industry, said Steve Mister, president of the CRN at the annual
conference last weekend.

In his state of the industry address, Mister outlined key features that have preoccupied the industry over the past 12 months, such as controversy over vitamin E safety and the legality of ephedra - both issues that have been widely reported in the media and have profoundly impacted the industry.

"CRN's slogan that we are the science behind the supplements is more than just window dressing,"​ said Mister. "Even as we lead the industry in representation and advocacy, we will always follow where the science takes us. We will not defend an indefensible ingredient or advocate a position that doesn't place our consumers first."

But he added: "At the same time, we cannot afford to leave junk science unchallenged, or let reckless reporting go unanswered when the stakes are this high."

The key, he said, is facilitating convergence with other forces that shape the industry, and over the coming year the council plans to do just that.

The first such convergence, he said, is between what the CRN stands for and what it actually does in practice.

As well as advocating science, it urges the industry to adhere to strict standards of quality. It also stands for opening markets and spurring innovation, and providing beneficial supplements and truthful information to consumers.

Moreover, Mister predicts that regulation will play an increasing role in the marketing of dietary supplements, especially concerning new bills and issues such as new dietary ingredient approval and qualified health claims.

"If we are going to stave off unreasonable, burdensome, and in some cases, malicious regulation, we are going to have to build relationships with regulators and be prepared to accept reasonable measures to drive out the bad actors that destroy consumer confidence."

Another key issue set to dominate in the coming months is mandatory adverse effects reporting - a measure which the CRN supports and which will go a long way towards building consumer confidence.

But it says that the details have not yet been resolved, and the industry must work together to ensure that the legislation provides adequate protection for manufacturers.

As for the needs, expectations and purchasing decisions of the consumer, it is critical that the industry strive for better understanding. Within this, it is important to realize that consumers look to healthcare providers for advice on supplements, said Mister, explaining emerging science to them, partnering with consumer and health advocacy organizations and relaying messages about product safety and benefits to the media.

The opportunities lie in turning the culture of supplements use from one of sickness to one of wellness, said Mister.

"What happens when sound science, reasonable regulation and well-crafted consumerism converge? CRN thinks the stage is set for dramatic growth of this industry with benefits to consumers, the healthcare system and our industry alike,"​ he concluded.

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