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With the surfacing of more sibutramine-tainted weight-loss supplements over the last several months, the adulteration issue has become a more persistent and dangerous problem for the U.S. dietary supplement industry. On Oct. 27, the FDA and the U.S. supplement trade associations convened to discuss what can be done to address what the agency says is the biggest safety issue facing dietary supplements.
FDA needs industry collaboration
Given the challenges and current regulatory limitations facing FDA in its work to police the adulteration problem, Sharfstein openly asked the industry for help during the 2010 CRN symposium.
Then, as part of its ongoing dialogue with the U.S. dietary supplement industry, the FDA held a conference call on Oct. 27 with five supplement trade associations—the United Natural Products Association (UNPA), the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), the Natural Products Association (NPA) and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA)—to discuss how regulators and industry can tackle this issue once and for all.
“We all have a mutual resolve to aggressively deal with this issue, and we discussed our ideas for moving forward,” said UNPA Executive Director Loren Israelsen. “The FDA communicated to us that we will see the agency’s level of enforcement around this problem increase dramatically and quickly.” Added John Gay, NPA’s executive director and CEO: “The spiking of supplements is a topic of particular concern to both the FDA and industry.” AHPA President Michael McGuffin echoed Gay's and Israelsen's sentiments regarding the seriousness of the tainted supplements issue.
Although both FDA and industry want to move quickly on stemming the tide of adulterated products and prosecuting those involved, Israelsen acknowledged that, at this time, no easy, short-term solution exists. “This is a global trade problem,” he said. “Those are very difficult to fix. Getting to the source of what is criminal activity is daunting.”