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Supplement Perspectives

What Can the Weight Loss Sector Learn from the POM Wonderful Decision?

<p>To start with stop borrowing science, writes Mitch Skop, Pharmachem Laboratories&rsquo; senior director of new product development. </p>

The recent Supreme Court decision in the POM Wonderful case over deceptive labeling and advertising should be a real eye opener for our industry. Many companies in the dietary supplement space use fairy dust blends and pixie spritzes of ingredients to splash on their labels, which have no expectations of efficacy but only work to differentiate one product from the next. Isn’t this the same thing? 

Wouldn’t it be nice if responsibly formulated consumer products were properly labeled with DSHEA claims that could be substantiated by original clinical and safety data? The way we see it, if this decision concludes with a precedent-setting verdict, maybe we’d see more of it.

The POM verdict is very important to all of us in the dietary supplement business, especially due to the issue of "borrowed science" – which is a dangerous precedent in the first place. This is where a generic ingredient "borrows" the safety and clinical data of another ingredient, possibly even citing a paper specification sheet to show "equivalence." Many ingredient and consumer goods companies spend millions of dollars to prove that their products are safe and that they work. Why spend the money on science if the next company is going to "borrow,"…no, steal it? It’s deceptive to say the least. The dietary supplements industry has always shot itself in the foot, as a self-regulating industry under the watchful eyes of the FDA, FTC, NAD, litigators, and so on. 

That’s what makes it so imperative for responsible supplement manufacturers to use those ingredients that are supported by adequate research as opposed to selling generic ingredients from dubious sources, using borrowed science. Consumer confidence would go through the roof, and consumers would pay more for supplements that deliver on the promises made. 

Whether it’s pomegranate or, in our case, white kidney bean extract, all ingredients are not created equally. The maker of POM Active is a specialist in pomegranate nutrition and has invested significant resources in proper safety and efficacy studies plus an extremely pure supply chain. It is invested in ensuring that consumers who are now educated about the benefits of pomegranate, select and consume products that give them the benefits they are buying.

Similarly, or more so, in weight management products, consumers should expect the supplement they are buying to be safe, effective, and support the claims on the label—whether it's for reducing carb calories, burning fat, or improving satiety.

Pharmachem Laboratories, Inc. has invested in over a dozen studies to show that our Phase 2 Carb Controller® white kidney bean EXTRACT works. Yet, there are generic white kidney bean marketers, whose ingredient doesn’t meet the same rigorous standards as ours, and haven’t undergone any testing at all, making similar claims. It's underhanded, and everyone loses, most importantly, the duped consumer.

Responsible suppliers should view the ruling as an opportunity to protect their investments in science. As for Pharmachem, should this case win landmark status in court, we will seriously consider an aggressive pursuit of those "science borrowers" through the legal system.

The consumer deserves nothing less, particularly in the much-maligned weight MANAGEMENT category. They trust us—one by one—by reaching into their wallets because they made the decision to MANAGE THEIR weight and keep it off. Let's fulfill their trust–and their weight management goals.

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