What should the dietary supplements industry put on their agendas for the near future? We caught up with Dr Daniel Fabricant, Executive Director and CEO of the National Products Association at SupplySide West 2017, one of the industry’s most important shows, to get his take on the state of the industry.
For one, Dr Fabricant emphasized how important it is for industry members to contribute some time, resources, and effort to come to the capitol, or at least work with a trade association as a proxy.
Dr Fabricant said lobbying events such as NPA's Natural Products Day are crucial to catalyze the process of getting dietary supplements included in benefits like the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, an effort in which the NPA has been active.
“No one’s mandating that people take a multivitamin, but where are people getting micronutrition from? You go to places that take WIC or other benefits, you generally don’t see fruits and vegetables,” Dr Fabricant argued.
“Also, Americans’ track record on eating fruits and vegetables? Not so good… so how do we help people out in getting healthier choices, I think that’s really the focus,” he added.
If supplements were to be included in the program, Dr Fabricant said, it may communicate to the public, especially welfare recipients, that supplements “are in the system” and they’re part of “what we do and what we recommend for people to stay healthy.”
What’s next for NDIs?
The New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) notification process—and which ingredients need or don’t need one—has been in limbo since FDA released the new draft guidance last summer.
To set things straight, the FDA will hold a public meeting tomorrow to discuss the development of a list of pre-DSHEA dietary ingredients, giving attendees the opportunity to voice what evidence they think is necessary to show that an ingredient was marketed before Oct. 15 1994, and what process should be used to develop the list.
“NPA, having both manufacturers and retailers, we have a lot of old retailer publications which show that these ingredients were in the market pre-94,” Dr Fabricant said.
Using vinpocetine’s plight last year as an example, he said that when the agency goes after an ingredient, “it can harm the business pretty clearly.”
Establishing a blocked out list of ingredients that people can use in their product without the fear of being chased down by the FDA should be a top priority for the industry as it adds a lot of stability, he added.
State of the Industry: Up next, serving the Millennials
Generally speaking, Dr Fabricant believes the dietary supplement industry is in a good place. “There are transitions everywhere in the economy right now, I think that’s the biggest concern,” he said.
As the buying power of Baby Boomers weaken, it’s the Millennials that are gaining industry attention. “What interests them about the industry, where do they see the industry moving ahead? Those are questions that need to be answered,” he added.
Initiatives to improve consumer confidence that the association had been working on a few years ago has been fruitful, Dr Fabricant claimed. “We’ve been working with the retailers, Walmart, GNC, on the SSCI [The Supplement Safety & Compliance Initiative], and that’s going quite well, and we’re at the point where we should have some really good products pretty soon for everyone in the industry to use.”