DSC debunks industry misconceptions at briefing

WASHINGTON The Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus, in cooperation with two trade associations representing the dietary supplement industry — the Natural Products Association and the Council for Responsible Nutrition — held a briefing on Capitol Hill Thursday in an effort 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,” suggested guest speaker Patrick Rea, publisher and editorial director of Nutrition Business Journal.

Speaking to an audience of staff members from the House of Representatives 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,” Rea said.

Rea addressed several “industry myths” –– including the notions 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.

“Our numbers show that somewhere between 60% to 80% of Americans take supplements, and 48% of them consider themselves regular users,” Rea said.

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% of physicians and 89% of nurses are dietary supplement consumers, and 79% of physicians and 82% of nurses recommend dietary supplements to their patients,” Rea noted.

Regarding industry regulation, Rea countered that the supplement industry is one of the more highly regulated industries and that the industry welcomes those regulations. “[For example], a lot of the [dietary supplement] companies are rallying behind the [good manufacturing practices] regulations,” he said. “They want it to be known that they are a GMP-compliant company. And, the Dietary Supplement Health Education Act made claims rules clear and has really helped the industry focus and develop.”