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Dietary Supplement Briefing Held on Capitol Hill


Published September 9, 2010
The Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus (DSC), in cooperation with two trade associations representing the dietary supplement industry—the Natural Products Association (NPA) and the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN)—held a briefing on Capitol Hill yesterday to debunk some of the untruths and misconceptions about the dietary supplement industry and its role in Americans’ wellness regimens.
“It’s all about prevention. Prevention is the new mantra among consumers,” said guest speaker Patrick Rea, publisher and editorial director of Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ). Speaking to an audience of staff members from the U.S. House and Senate, Rea said that even during tough economic times, consumers turn to dietary supplements as an important part of their immunity and prevention plan. “Consumers looked at supplements as one way through the recession to help take care of themselves. Health is recession resilient, and the sales over time support this fact,” said Rea. 
Rea cut through some of the misconceptions and rhetoric too frequently reported as fact, and offered a true view of the state of the industry. He directly addressed several of what he called “industry myths” –that dietary supplements are unnecessary because people get what they need from food; that people really do not want to take supplements; that the pharmaceutical industry will destroy the dietary supplement industry; and that the industry is unregulated.
Rea shared solid sales and product trend data that refuted each myth, and explained in depth how an aging but influential population is changing the way Americans use and rely on dietary supplements. Dietary supplements are part of a nearly $27 billion industry that has demonstrated steady sales and product growth over time. “Our numbers show that somewhere between 60-80 percent of Americans take supplements, and 48 percent of them consider themselves regular users,” said Rea. 
Rea also mentioned the growing acceptance of dietary supplements among conventional health practitioners, and the growing trend among pharmaceutical companies to develop their own versions of products usually sold as supplements. “In a study of healthcare professionals, 72 percent of physicians and 89 percent of nurses are dietary supplement consumers, and of that group, 79 percent of physicians and 82 percent of nurses recommend dietary supplements to their patients,” said Rea.
Rea concluded by disputing the myth that the industry is unregulated. “The supplement industry is one of the more highly regulated industries. Many of the companies say the regulatory challenges they face today are the threat of increased FDA and FTC regulation over the industry, and the recent GMP [good manufacturing practices] rollout. A lot of the companies are rallying behind the GMP regulations. They want it to be known that they are a GMP-compliant company. And, the Dietary Supplement Health Education Act [DSHEA] made claims rules clear and has really helped the industry focus and develop,” said Rea.
“What is the truth about the dietary supplement industry? There is a lot of investment in science, and a lot of movement by companies to ensure they’re up to speed on the regulatory front,” said Rea.



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