In no particular order…
DSHEA at 20
Much has already been said about the 20th anniversary of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, which provided the regulatory framework to allow a $2 billion industry to grow to $35 billion in just two decades. The anniversary has served as an excellent opportunity for veterans to remember that significant achievement, and for the younger members of the industry to understand what the industry was like pre-DSHEA and why it should not be taken for granted.
The debates about what comes next and some of the other issues that still affect the industry have been frank and honest, whether it’s about manufacturer certification or raising the barriers to entry.
Changing of the guard
The anniversary has also served as a way for the industry to honor its two key champions: Senators Orrin Hatch and Tom Harkin. Both will not be around much longer to defend the industry’s interests: Senator Harkin has bid farewell to Congress already, while clouds of uncertainty still swirl around Senator Hatch and whether he will run again at the end of his current term.
Senators Hatch and Harkin have recognized Sen. Martin Heinrich as the next Democratic leader in the US Senate for safeguarding access to dietary supplements.
And there have been some other younger industry supporters gaining key positions in key committees, including Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., co-chair of the Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus, becoming the ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee (and replacing long-term industry critic Rep. Henry Waxman…) and Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, another member of the Dietary Supplement Caucus, becoming chairman of the House Government Reform Committee.
This only just made it on to the list, having finally passed Congress and headed to the President’s office to be signed into law. The Designer Anabolic Steroid Control Act ensures anabolic steroids are not misrepresented as legitimate dietary supplements by broadening the definition and imposing tougher penalties on firms making and selling them.
The Act amends the Controlled Substances Act to add more than 25 new substances to current lists of defined anabolic steroids, and revises the process whereby new substances can be added in future. It also calls for the Drug Enforcement Agency to address products that are “substantially similar” to anabolic steroids and that have been illegally marketed to promote muscle growth.
It also creates tougher penalties (up to $2.5m and up to 10 years in prison) for the manufacture, sale and/or distribution of substances that meet the definition.
CRN was quickest to hail the development: “Passage of this bill was one of CRN’s top legislative priorities this year, as responsible member companies want to do all that they can to solve the problem of anabolic steroids illegally being sold as dietary supplements,” said CRN’s Steve Mister.
“We are extremely grateful to Congress for passing this important piece of legislation and particularly want to acknowledge Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Reps. Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ), sponsors of the bill respectively in the Senate and the House. We are thankful as well to other legislators and industry stakeholders who kept the serious issue of designer anabolic steroids in front of key colleagues in Congress.”
Fabricant returns to NPA
We’ll be honest, we didn’t see it coming. The return of Dr Fabricant from the FDA has re-energized and re-focused the Natural Products Association after several years without a leader with strong industry nous. Dr Corey Hilmas quickly followed Dr Fabricant from the FDA to become senior VP of scientific and regulatory affairs.
The Fabricant-Hilmas partnership was hailed as being “unmatched in the dietary supplement industry”, by Mike O’Hara, general manager of global nutraceuticals for UL during the recent announcement of the education alliance between NPA and UL.
Trade associations grow membership… all of them, by a lot
A month does not go by without at least one of the trade associations announcing new members. Membership has been climbing at all the associations, including AHPA, CRN, NPA, UNPA, while sector-specific associations such as GOED have also been reporting membership growth. This can only be seen as a positive for the industry as companies agree to adhere to bylaws, quality standards, and codes of conduct.
But many companies are still not members, so how does the more ‘responsible’ industry influence those players?
Transparency coming to the fore
We’re hearing it from many sources, and it can only be a good thing for the industry’s image and for building consumer trust. This came out loud and clear during our recent Business Leaders Forum, and has also been talked about in other arenas.
People like Robert Craven from FoodState/MegaFood have spoken at length about the need for “big T transparency” and how it can be the solution to many of the industry’s woes, while Vitamin Shoppe submitted all of the labels on products sold in its stores to the National Institutes of Health Dietary Supplement Label Database.
Steve Mister from CRN told us at the time of the Vitamin Shoppe’s announcement: “I think any time a company is doing something that is making their processes and ingredients more transparent to the consumer and making it easier for consumers to negotiate the industry, that is a good thing.”
Transparency was becoming a much bigger part of the conversation in 2014, and we expect that to increase in 2015.
Curcumin goes mainstream
2014 has been a good year for curcumin and turmeric with market growth of 26%, new studies supporting its potential health benefits, and increasing consumer awareness
Almost one year ago we were told ‘any moment now’ for the curcumin market to hit a tipping point. In 2011 and 2012, sales of herbal dietary supplements with turmeric/curcumin as the primary ingredient were ranked at number three in the natural channel. One year on and they are number one, according to a recent report published in the American Botanical Council’s HerbalGram.
The Krill Peace
The krill wars had been raging for a while, but 2014 finally saw an end to the patent disputes and ‘hostilities’ between the various players. All of the IP issues have been resolved and the suppliers appear to be pulling in the same direction for the good of the sector. It bodes well for continued growth.
Dr Oz on Capitol Hill
While episodes of the Dr Oz show may make uncomfortable viewing for some, it was nothing like the discomfort experienced by the good doctor himself during a Senate sub-committee hearing earlier this year. The big question for us is whether Dr Oz will engage less with the dietary supplements sector, and will this tame the ‘sensationalist’ and ‘flowery’ language he seems to favor?
To read the lessons learned by the Council for Responsible Nutrition’s Steve Mister at the hearing, please click here.
CFSAN’s new director
Ok, so she hasn’t taken the hot seat yet, but the departure of Michael Landa (a lawyer) and the arrival of Dr Susan Mayne (a scientist) marks an important moment for CFSAN. Dr Mayne’s appointment was widely welcomed by the dietary supplement industry. All it needs now is to appoint a director for the Division of Dietary Supplement Programs.