Supplement Perspectives

R&D: The Key Disciplines

Regular contributor Blake Ebersole has the last word on R&D.

R&D is considered one of the biggest drivers of success in many industries, but the research and development of dietary supplements often means different things to different people. The act of “doing” R&D can draw on a number of different disciplines, including agriculture, engineering, supply chain management, quality management, pharmaceutics, biology, chemistry, toxicology, medicine, history and law—not to mention marketing, distribution, and finance. 

What disciplines are emphasized during R&D can predict the nature of the product. For example, an R&D process that prioritizes marketing and distribution over other key disciplines may result in a product that is more successful by some measures (immediate sales volume) than in others (efficacy and quality).  

Ultimately, the aim for supplement R&D should be to develop a product that helps to deliver predictable and tangible health benefits. But R&D being part of a regulated industry, other aims are part of the deal as well. The most successful products over the long term are ones where all disciplines are applied evenly and are part of a long-term vision.

Without efficacy, safety, regulatory acceptance, consistency of ingredients, and dosage forms, as well as solid business acumen, products that result from R&D programs can fail the consumer and the company who invests in them.

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