“This is one step we’re making to take back our industry from the lawbreakers, from the renegades, from the companies that spurn regulation,” said Steve Mister, CRN President & CEO. “Our member companies have turned a corner and are fully engaged in efforts to separate the legitimate manufacturers marketing healthful products from the hit-and-run, fly-by-nighters selling quick fixes and illegal drugs wrapped with a supplement label. We need all companies who care about our consumers and the sustained growth of this industry to join with us in this initiative.”
The registry will be developed and managed by a third-party vendor. Mister told us that CRN is working through its short list of vendors and that a decision will be announced soon.
Mister noted that the product registry will initially serve the regulators and the retail community, with the ultimate goal of providing industry accountability to consumers as well. “We’re moving in a deliberate, step-wise fashion and layering initiatives that, when combined, will address transparency, ingredient verification, and GMP compliance.”
The organization has formed a working group to resolve the specifics of the product registry. There is already consensus on some of the information that will be required for the registry, said Mister, and discussions are ongoing concerning other information.
“One of the conditions we have for the vendors is that the registry needs to be adaptive so additional fields can be added as the situation evolves,” he said.
According to CRN, the initiative comes at a time when the supplement industry is primed to work more closely together and with regulators to help solve the problems that have attracted increasing public scrutiny. “The days of the regulators sitting on their hands are long gone and we appreciate that we’re seeing stronger enforcement action of the law,” said Mister.
Earlier this year, CRN announced what it called “a first, and necessary step” toward improving transparency in the supplement industry by requiring all CRN members as a condition of membership submit their supplement product labels to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) Dietary Supplement Label Database (DSLD).
This will continue to be a requirement of CRN membership, said Mister, and the industry product registry will serve as a companion piece to the DSLD.
“We understand the ODS Label Database is an important tool for the scientific research community. CRN continues to support ODS’s database and we intend for the product registry to interface in some way with the label database so companies will not have to engage in duplicative efforts.”
“Everything that is in the ODS DSLD will go into our database, and we’ll have a lot more information as well,” he said.
CRN’s Board has not yet decided if the new product registry will also be a condition of membership. “I am hopeful that it will become a requirement, at least for tier one. I would like for that to become universal,” said Mister.
Tier one is basic product information which will be accessible to anyone and will permit participating manufacturers/marketers to add their products at no charge. Tier two will involve a fee and allow a company to provide more in-depth information about the products. Access to this additional information will be restricted to select audiences, such as regulators and retailers, explained Mister.
The registry will be overseen by CRN, and Mister said that he expects some policing of the database. For example, if there is a product with an illegal ingredient, it will be removed.
Mister noted the importance of working closely with the other trade associations and both member companies and non-member companies. When it comes to the industry trade associations, he said: “We’re cooperating on a number of initiatives that will contribute toward a stronger, more accountable industry—CRN is taking the lead on this one, and we will lend support as others take the lead on other initiatives. You can expect more announcements soon.”