Twenty years ago the dietary supplement market was not only born, it avoided death. With the passing of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) in 1994, the term dietary supplement was formally defined; there were to be no more arguments about whether it was a food or medicine; no more attempts to regulate it out of business as an unapproved food additive.
A set of regulations specifically tailored toward this new category was possible and so, DSHEA established the foundation of the current dietary supplement market.
With the industrys experts drafting it and our full support, this great piece of legislation had large potential to be effective immediately. It was not. Whether it was the FDAs lack of resources or not, the implementation and enforcement of DSHEA was not present. Only now, 20 years later, is it starting to reach its full potential.
It took more than a decade after passing for GMPs to be established, providing all in the industry clear, concise requirements that detail both process and responsibility across our ecosystem. Yes, we are seeing injunctions, seizures, and what seems like countless warning letters, but this only means the legislation is doing its original intended function. The United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA) has stated that the FDAs increased GMP enforcement has had a positive impact with DSHEA compliance. Although it may have not come as soon as we wanted, we are going to witness the removal of companies uncommitted to quality from the playing field and increased consumer confidence in an industry that was lacking it.
Since its implementation, I have seen the dietary supplement industry evolve and mature rapidly, scaling from an entrepreneurial marketing culture to a mature, disciplined, and customer-focused industry that cares deeply about the quality, efficaciousness, and method of action of our products. I have worked across six separate industries during my career. I can honestly say none of them would have been able to embrace, recalibrate, and implement a regulation as far reaching as the GMPs in the timeframe we have.
We are finally seeing immense progress in DSHEA, and I see the future as a very positive one for the dietary supplement marketplace.