Insights from SupplySide West

Israelsen: DSHEA created world's most vibrant supplement marketplace

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

The dietary supplement business has gone from fighting for its life to enjoying the fruits of an open, dynamic marketplace, and it’s all because of DSHEA, according to Loren Isrealsen, president of the United Natural Products Alliance.

Israelsen, who was involved with DSHEA at its inception, spoke with NutraIngredients-USA as the recent SupplySide West trade show in Las Vegas, NV.  It’s good to look back and reflect on what has changed in the intervening years.

“In the early in the late 1980s and early 1990s we were really battling for our existence.  Things have changed over 20 years.  We’ve seen the advent of the Internet.  Almost all of the drafts and all of the negotiations for DSHEA were done by telefax.  Now you have global communications,”​ Isrealsen said.

“There has been a transition in the global supply chain.  We used to be a much more US-centric industry in every respect.  DSHEA  opened up the market to foreign companies around the world who saw the tremendous success of DSHEA from an economic point of view.  This is the most dynamic, fast-growing dietary supplement market in the world,” ​he said.

DSHEA has its limitations, Israelsen said.  One of the things that the original crafters were unable to get written into the law was some sort of protection around intellectual property.  Most of the products in the industry are not patentable in and of themselves, leading to weak IP protection.  Not having that IP bulwark complicates the process of making investment decisions regarding new research, he said.

As regards the critics of the markeplace DSHEA has created, they will be ever with us, Isrealsen said.

“The criticism will continue, and some of it is well placed. It’s just the nature of food politics, because we sit between the food and drug worlds and we will always be rubbing elbows on both sides,”​ he said.

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