April 12, 2023
As I sat down to write this brief introduction to who I am and why I’m here partnering with Natural Products Insider on a new column series, I opened my Google Docs to start a new file.
Suddenly, I found half a dozen old essays I had saved from my time at the University of Maryland in College Park around 2001.
I found dozens of papers, including “Wild Medicine,” “Understanding Dietary Supplements and Their Role in Western Medicine,” a 13-page report on Ginkgo biloba, and then (rather inexplicably) a paper about how a 5-year-old pronounces spaghetti (“sketti” or “pasketti”). And while my paper on sketti and pasketti was twice as long as my article on dietary supplements, I assure you I am equally passionate about both topics.
Opening Google Docs created not only a craving for Italian food, but also an unexpected and refreshing reminder of just how far back my interest and love for alternative medicine and dietary supplements goes.
I was 19 years old at the time, already crafting English papers on supplement regulation and interning at the neighboring FDA offices in College Park, studying wall germander as an adulterant at the then-named ONPLDS (pronounced on-plods), which was the Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling & Dietary Supplements, now essentially the Office of Dietary Supplement Programs (ODSP). Before launching my career, I also interned at City University of New York’s Lehman College in a botanical lab.
It did take more than just school and internships to send me down this career path. I truly made my way into this industry not only because of those critical opportunities, but simultaneously—potentially like many of you reading this—to seek alternative and sustainable solutions to lifelong medical conditions that didn’t readily fit into Western medicine’s boxes.
I could not have predicted this confluence of circumstances would lead me down a career path spanning more than two decades across four different companies in three states, making lifelong friends, traveling the world, and, quite honestly, having the opportunity to share some insights with you—readers of Natural Products Insider.
With that said, let me introduce myself formally. My name is Russell (Russ) Michelson. I am the global regulatory head for the vitamins, minerals and supplements (VMS) health business at Reckitt. Currently, I manage both U.S. and international regulatory affairs for our VMS business.
Trading as Reckitt, Reckitt Benckiser Group plc is a British multinational consumer goods company headquartered in Slough, England. It is a producer of health, hygiene and nutrition products, including popular U.S. brands such as Lysol, Mucinex and Enfamil, as well as various dietary supplement brands such as Airborne, Move Free and Neuriva.
I am on the board of IADSA (the International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations) as its treasurer. I am also the chair of CHPA’s (Consumer Healthcare Products Association) dietary supplements committee and support my good friend Diana Morgan as part of the What’s Up with Supps board.
Formerly, I worked at Solgar Vitamin & Herbs, GNC and Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, where I was also the chair of CRN’s (Council for Responsible Nutrition) regulatory affairs committee. I currently live in Morristown, New Jersey.
About once a quarter for this column, I plan to introduce some interesting perspectives on the U.S. or global supplement sector. It may be about a hot topic or something that keeps me up at night, an industry initiative my team and I are supporting, some insights into what I think it takes to be a good regulatory professional or regulatory leader, or perhaps some more nonsense about what I wrote in college 20 years ago.
Tune in to find out. I hope you enjoy!
Russell (Russ) Michelson graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Maryland, where he focused on natural medicine and nutrition, and also interned within FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) in College Park, Maryland. Michelson has spent over 15 years in U.S. and global dietary supplement regulatory affairs and is an avid supplement consumer. He began his career at Solgar Vitamin and Herb, followed by GNC, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare and now Reckitt, where he is the global regulatory head for the VMS health business.
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