Supplement Perspectives

Joint Health Supplements: How to Spread the Good News, Without Receiving Bad News

John Shaw, the executive director and CEO of the Natural Products Association, describes how to market joint health products effectivelyand legally.

Todays aging generations are more active than any before. However, while many Baby Boomers and GenXers are aging with surfboards or barbells in hand, their joints may not share their vitality. For years, consumers have used supplements with glucosamine and chondroitin to maintain joint health. With the wealth of quality data behind these products and ingredients, its possible to spread the word to these passionate consumers to help maintain their active lifestyles, without running afoul of regulators. 

Generally, information accompanying a dietary supplement at the point-of-sale becomes part of the label. This includes all books, fliers, catalogs, webpages, hyperlinks and metatags used to promote a product within a distribution chain. To determine if a product is misbranded or unlawfully marketed, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) look beyond product labels and advertisements and examine the overall impression created by the marketing, including the product name, company and affiliates websites, promotional materials, testimonials, social media pages and postings, and any media used to promote or sell the product.

Congress, recognizing the value of educating supplement consumers, included a provision within the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) that allows supplement companies to offer certain non-misleading and balanced third-party literature to consumers at the point-of-sale. Third-party literature includes publications that provide quality information about the health and wellness benefits of safe and effective ingredients otherwise unavailable to consumers.

Among other criteria, the publication must be offered in entirety and may not reference an individual product or company, or have additional information affixed that could direct consumers to an individual product or company. Additionally, companies must maintain physical distance between the product and third-party literature at the point-of-sale. On the internet, supplement companies may not post or directly link to the publications. Ultimately, supplement companies are responsible for all content created by them or on their behalf, and for actively monitoring content on their websites and social media pages.

To get the word out, marketers should focus on language concerning the maintenance of healthy joints, how ingredients or products work, and joint physiology. They should avoid language associated with drugs, such as treat, cure, or prevent. Supplement companies may not expressly or implicitly include claims about the prevention or treatment of diseases including rheumatoid or osteoarthritis, or related symptoms such as pain and inflammation.

Dont include phrases such as:  

--May aid in arthritic pain relief

--Used to relieve joint stiffness

--Contains natural anti-inflammatory compounds

--Recommended by doctors for arthritic joint pain relief

Do include terms such as:

--Supports

--Maintains

--Healthy

--Optimal

--Helps maintain balanced"

Ultimately, do remember that with good data, diligence, and creativity you can educate consumers, and effectively and lawfully promote your quality joint products. Responsibly providing consumers quality supplement and wellness information may not only decrease the likelihood of negative attention from regulators, but also provide a valuable opportunity to engage consumers, build relationships, and express your companys commitment to helping others live active and healthy lives.

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