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CRN’s Rend Al-Mondhiry also asked state attorneys general to prosecute companies spiking products with illegal drugs.
In a move designed to promote transparency and build trust with consumers, the Council for Responsible Nutrition’s (CRN; Washington, DC) Board of Directors has approved in concept a voluntary product registry for dietary supplements. In the coming weeks, CRN will investigate different options for establishing the registry, such as creating a new platform or working with an existing database.
“I firmly believe CRN is uniquely positioned to lead the industry toward developing measures to improve quality and build consumer trust,” said Steve Mister, president and CEO, CRN. “And this database of product information is the first step in that process.”
The CRN Board adopted the proposal for the registry at its October board meeting during the annual CRN Conference, which took place soon after Mister called on CRN members to support the registry during his president’s address. Based on negative media coverage of industry this year, Mister saw this as a critical time for industry to take steps to provide more transparency about dietary supplements in the market.
“If we ignore the signs, we risk becoming irrelevant,” said Mister, during his president’s address. “If we wait too long, we will get left behind. If we consider ourselves impervious, we may get blindsided by our vulnerabilities.”
Existing databases that could be possibilities for the registry include the ODS database or the Underwriters Laboratories’ Clearview program, said Mister. In the coming month, CRN will be investigating these databases as well as the possibility of creating a new platform, and then provide a report and recommendations based on its investigation at the December Board meeting for a possible Board decision. The Board will also be considering a time frame for implementation, said Mister.
“The Board’s decision to move CRN toward an industry-directed product database of dietary supplements follows nearly a year of discussions and investigations by the Board into a viable system of providing more visibility for regulators into the size of the industry and basic information about products (brand names, ingredients, supplements facts labeling, etc.),” said Mister. “This marks CRN’s determination to voluntarily provide more transparency about dietary supplements in the market.”
Mister added that CRN is also seeking feedback from its members, other stakeholders, and other industry trade associations on this initiative.
Calling on State Attorneys General to Prosecute Bad Players
On a similar note of protecting consumer interests, CRN’s Rend Al-Mondhiry, regulatory counsel, called on 80 assistant state attorneys general (AGs) to support efforts to stop criminals from marketing illegal drugs as dietary supplements.
Speaking before the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) Fall Consumer Protection Meeting (St. Louis, MO) on November 2, Al-Mondhiry asked the assistant state AGs to prosecute companies that participate in criminal behaviors like spiking dietary supplement products with illegal drugs.
“These types of activities clearly violate the law and present real risks to public health,” said Al-Mondhiry. “This is where state AGs can be most effective in protecting consumers and can coordinate with FDA to target these illegal products.”
Al-Mondhiry spoke at the meeting on a panel that included Pieter Cohen, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Maia Kats, director of litigation at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. In addition to asking for support from the AGs, Al-Mondhiry explained some of the measures the industry is currently taking to ensure that the products reaching consumers are safe and have truthful, accurate labeling.
Yet, even with these self-policing efforts, Al-Mondhiry said that the industry still doesn’t have an “enforcement hammer” to go after companies that flout the laws and regulations governing dietary supplements. She suggested that the state AGs, in coordination with FDA, have the opportunity to target these bad players and protect consumers from products that have been spiked with illegal drugs.
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