The role NPQAA played in the passage of DSHEA

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags DSHEA DSHEA 2.0 Dietary supplements Unmetered Unmetered

The short-lived Natural Products Quality Assurance Alliance played an important behind-the-scenes contribution in the passage of DSHEA, but what was it and how did it help sway Congressional support for DSHEA?

As NutraIngredients-USA gears up for the DSHEA Summit (June 10) in Salt Lake City, we are revisiting this important interview with Dr. Jeffrey Bland at Expo West 2019.

Dr. Bland explained that, in response to increasingly aggressive approaches to dietary supplements in the early 1990s, a meeting was convened during a National Nutritional Foods Association (now the Natural Products Association) conference in Kentucky that led to him floating the idea of the industry putting together a task force to write a standards document, internal to the industry, about quality across all categories, to get out ahead on the issue.

“[During that meeting] Loren Israelsen [now president of the United Natural Products Alliance] stood up and said, ‘We need to be putting something into this committee that’s discussing the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, but it seems it’s lacking this internal assurity of quality’. Much to my surprise, a variety of CEOs of the companies said they would support this and give time and energy to it,” recalled Dr. Bland.

“We worked over the course of about six months to put together a quality assurance document, and we called ourselves the Natural Products Quality Assurance Alliance—NPQAA.”

'It was pretty enlightened for the age and time'

A standard of identity was set up in each of these categories (supplements, herbs, foods, oils, etc) for how to test, how to validate, and so on. “It was obviously a first approach, but I think it was ambitious. It was pretty enlightened for the age and time,” Dr. Bland said.

“That document eventually was published and was taken by Loren Israelsen, given to Orrin Hatch, who then read it into the congressional record. It became the first internal document of the industry that it could police itself.”

“DSHEA was finally passed in this magic moment where Ted Kennedy crossed over and we’re told in part he crossed over because of this document showing that there were standards going to be used in the industry.”


Upon passage of DSHEA, Dr. Bland thought that the momentum behind NPQAA would iterate forward and improve the document, and pass up standards, but there was no motivation anymore for people to be involved.

“I was thinking, now here’s a chance for the industry as a whole to step up and say OK, we have these standards, and we have the right now under the law to make structure-function claims, we’ve got these new categories of herbal products that have been moved into our portfolio, we’re really going to step up and be responsible . . . but that’s not what happened. It was ‘how can we push the edges and take advantage?’

“I’m happy to see now, however, in 2019 that the enlightened part of the industry has stepped up, it is moving to a much higher standard, and it’s not just the cGMPs, and seeing the seriousness and what the opportunity is if they really want to be a global agent of change.”

The DSHEA Summit

Hosted by NutraIngredients-USA and supported by the United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA), the landmark DSHEA Summit​ will bring together the architects of the law, key industry stakeholders and former and current FDA officials to discuss the past, present and future of the U.S. dietary supplements industry.

The DSHEA Summit will take place at the Hyatt Regency Salt Lake City on Monday, June 10, 2024, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Speakers include:

- Scott Bass, Partner, Global Life Sciences, Sidley Austin
- ​Christine Burdick-Bell​, EVP & General Counsel​, Pharmavite
- ​Robert Durkin, Partner, Arnall Golden Gregory LLP​ &​ former acting Director and Deputy Director, Office of Dietary Supplement Programs (ODSP), FDA
- Jim Emme, CEO, NOW Health Group
- Loren Israelsen, ​President and Founder, United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA)
- Patricia Knight, Senior Political Advisor, UNPA ​& former Chief of Staff to Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah
- George Paraskevakos, Executive Director, International Probiotics Association (IPA)
- Peter Reinecke, Senior Political Advisor, UNPA & former Chief of Staff to Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa
- Dr. Cara Welch,Director, Office of Dietary Supplements Programs, FDA

Please click HERE​ for more information and to register.

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