Educational Seminars Well-Received at SupplySide West

November 1, 2000

3 Min Read
Educational Seminars Well-Received at SupplySide West

Educational Seminars Well-Received at SupplySide West

In addition to an entertaining keynote address by Al Franken and a two-daysmorgasbord of networking on the Expo floor, SupplySide offered a variety ofeducational seminars. Panels and speakers covered topics that included buyers'question and answer sessions, quality control and online opportunities.

Two of the best-attended seminars brought suppliers and manufacturers to aBuyer's Q&A Forum. Two panels of three speakers each addressed howe-commerce, quality control standards, good manufacturing practices and moreinfluence their own buying decisions. The speakers included Bill Coakley, RexallSundown; Gary Jepson, Weider; William Fitzgerald, Leiner; Tom Longstaff,Wyeth-Ayerst; Daren Sigrist, Olympian Laboratories; and Terry Word, Nature'sWay. Across the sessions, attendees and speakers noted the increasing importanceof quality standards and methodology of testing.

"We offer an outline of our quality control standards," Jepsonsaid. "We determine our own testing methods and can correlate information.We do need standardization of testing across ingredients."

Quality control is a crucial part of becoming a supplier to a high-volume,high profile manufacturer. "We send out a 10-page supplierquestionnaire," Coakley said. "We want to control a supplier audit andensure that everything is correct. Then they're still only given provisionalapproval until we have an established history to rank them on our preferred uselist." Coakley's questionnaire, as well as those mentioned by otherpanelists, were in hot demand after the seminar.

QC standards were also a point of discussion in the seminar "The FDA andLegal Perspective of Compliance and GMP Issues." Brad Williams, specialassistant to the division of compliance and enforcement with FDA's Center forFood Safety and Applied Nutrition, laid out for attendees the agency's 10-yearimplementation strategy for the regulation of dietary supplements, as well asits intent to move on issuing GMPs. "The goal of GMPs is to ensure qualityand safety," he said. "And GMP development is one of our toppriorities. I'm told we will publish proposed GMPs by the end of 2000."Williams also outlined requirements for regulation of functional foods("they're foods"), the GRAS process, and the determination of"new" dietary supplement ingredients.

Other panelists included Larry Platkin, counsel with American Home Products;Sid Tracy, president of Traco Labs; and Saul Pilchen, partner in Skadden, Arps,Slate, Meagher & Flom. Platkin shared his past experience in dealing withFDA and GMPs in the pharmaceutical area and how adverse event reporting (AERs)is important for the industry. "We need FDA to gather AERs to build aknowledge base for companies, regulators and consumers," he said. "Wemust learn to interact with our regulators for our consumers' benefit."

In the session "Building Your Brand Online," Integrated MarketingGroup's Jeff Hilton discussed what it takes to create a Web site where consumerswill return again and again. Some of his suggestions included offering a sitethat was easily navigated, that maintained the same image as the company it wasrepresenting and that offered consumers quick and easy access to what they weresearching for. "Evaluate the strength of your online branding efforts byassessing seven key areas on your site: strategy, design, content, navigation,organization, interactivity and programming," Hilton suggested.

It seemed that he really connected with his audience; after the seminar,Hilton was inundated with business cards requesting additional information aboutWeb site construction and even reconstruction.

Also, in the session "How Web-Based Information Providers are Growingthe Market," panelists Jeffrey Eisenberg from IntraMedicine Inc. and CherylBottger from Healthnotes Inc. covered how to create a site that services acompany as well as its consumer. Creating a site that offers the latestresearch, coupled with a database that records consumers' preferences, is whatwill make a site a potential standout in the billions of unique pages thatalready inhabit the Web.

"Web-based information is expanding learning for the profession as wellas the consumer on natural products and their functions," said Eisenberg."By providing reliable science-based information through a web-based andrelational system, research time is reduced while at the same time reducingproduct time to market."

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