NPA details active year

By Daniel Fabricant, PhD, President and CEO of the Natural Products Association

- Last updated on GMT

©Getty Images - tumsasedgars
©Getty Images - tumsasedgars

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This year, we have been on the front lines ensuring that our products remain accessible to millions of health-conscious Americans and fighting to keep our essential businesses open. In the face of mass layoffs and business closures, we took decisive action to prevent policymakers from shutting us down.

We wanted to take a moment to reflect on NPA’s victories this year: 

 NPA Protected Consumers from Bogus Products: ​NPA was first to call on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to regulate dietary supplements illegally claiming their products prevent, treat or cure coronavirus.  As a result, millions of products were pulled off the market, and over 330 companies received warning letters from the FDA and FTC. 

 NPA Worked to Ensure Supplement Retailers Were Declared Essential Businesses: ​Together with the Trump Administration, we worked to provide clear language in the National Critical Workforce Infrastructure deeming the dietary supplement supply chain as essential business.  This prevented thousands of retailers, manufacturers, distributors and suppliers from shutting down their businesses and prevented consumers from losing access to their reliable products.

 In March, we sent letters to Governors of all 50 states to deem health food stores selling nutritional supplements “essential businesses” and to allow small businesses to request for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance.  We also launched a national grassroots campaign sending thousands of letters to policymakers, which played a critical role in keeping our businesses open. 

 NPA Expanded Support for HSA and FSA Modernization: ​One of our top goals this year was to expand access to dietary supplements through a legislative proposal that would allow FSA and HSA dollars to be spent on nutritional supplements and other natural products.  In August this legislation was introduced to the Senate, sponsored by North Dakota Senator Kevin Cramer. Proper nutrition is essential to health and wellness now more than ever, and we look forward to our continued work with lawmakers to ensure that millions of Americans have access to nutritional supplements.

 NPA Established a Science Based Pathway for CBD, Halting Misguided Proposals:​  States are introducing regulations that will address the gaps left by the FDA.  NPA was active in Iowa, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New York and other states that have been making their own regulatory standards to protect consumers and provide clarity manufacturers need.  NPA continues to support legislation that requires FDA to publish manufacturing guidelines for CBD products and set a safe daily level of CBD consumption.  

 In addition to continuing to advance legislation that will set a safe level of daily consumption, NPA has worked to block other damaging proposals in Congress that would require the FDA to bypass DSHEA.  

 NPA Ensured Supplements are Accurately Labeled:​ Since 2018, NPA has been a member of the Coalition for Accurate Product Labeling, a group of business and agriculture organizations that believe consumers have a right to clear, accurate and meaningful information about natural products.  This year, legislation was introduced to establish a federal standard for labeling products and requiring ingredient disclosure that is risk-based and substantiated by sound science. 

 NPA Defeated Misguided State Proposals:  ​NPA defeated legislation in Illinois (HB 3948) and Massachusetts (H1942) that would prohibit the sale of healthy, safe and legal products to minors and require supplements like protein powder to be placed under lock and key only accessible by a manager.  The proposals would do nothing to promote public health and would burden small businesses and limit access to health products for consumers.  NPA also supported legislation in Washington (SB 6554), which would exempt dietary supplements from sales and use tax.

 NPA launched the Supplement Safety & Compliance Initiative (SSCI):  ​This year, SSCI has made significant progress towards its anticipated launch this December.  There are currently five certifying bodies that will begin inspecting facilities in December after completing a calibration training with SSCI experts in early November.  Looking ahead to 2021, SSCI will provide metrics and analytics on the program’s progress. 

 NPA Became a Codex Observer at the United Nations: ​NPA is supporting the advancement of food and dietary supplement standards worldwide in an official observer capacity during Codex Alimentarius Commission meetings.  This year NPA contributed its expertise, comments and recommendations to advance health standards worldwide.  

 NPA Changed the Narrative Through Constant Response to Critics and Media Misperceptions:​  NPA was on the front lines of an increasingly intense public debate about the strict regulatory regime that governs our industry.  We have aggressively challenged inaccurate claims that the industry is “unregulated” or “under-regulated” in national, state, local, and social media.  We have challenged critics to release data and methodologies they claim is the source of their allegations of wrongdoing.  We have worked with reporters to help them understand that adulteration of supplements is illegal, and that the government has a responsibility to prosecute criminal activity vigorously.  And we will continue to expand and refine those efforts in 2021 as we are sure to face similar challenges this year.

 NPA Successfully Hosted the Big Natural: ​The pandemic may have forced us to change our plans for The Big Natural, but the event still happened successfully.  We secured an excellent panel of experts that created plenty of engaging and interesting content, and we are pleased to say that this year’s Big Natural was the most well attended since the conference’s inception.  

 NPA Engaged Federal and State Regulators:​   As the President and CEO of NPA and the former top regulator for the dietary supplement industry at FDA, our members get the invaluable experience and insight that only a former regulator can provide.  That is why we began 2020 with the high-profile hire of Dr. Sibyl Swift, another former top regulator at the FDA.  As Senior VP of Scientific Affairs & Regulatory Affairs, Dr. Swift has helped lead NPA’s robust program of providing official comments and informal guidance on a range of federal and state government rulemakings and policy development.   

These victories in 2020 have positioned NPA as the leading trade association in the natural products industry during this difficult moment.  This year we demonstrated once again that the Natural Products Association and its members are the go-to sources for advocacy, information, training, networking and communications, and we look forward to continuing that leadership role in the year ahead.

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