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CRN bucks ‘alternative’ rap, promotes supplements

BY Michael Johnsen

The dietary supplement industry is leaving the last vestiges of its wild, wild West huckster reputation behind in favor of an image of responsibility and accountability. At least that’s the message that came out of the Council for Responsible Nutrition’s annual meeting last month, especially since CRN in the past few years has been packing some six-shooter heat of its own—partnering with the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus on self-regulating supplement ads and dispelling outrageous claims while at the same time fighting clinical trial fire with its own trials to dispel several recently-released supplement meta-analyses critical of supplement benefits.

“We’ve matured from being viewed as ‘fringe’ or ‘alternative’ to being mainstream health care with [more than] $23 billion in sales in the U.S. alone,” said Steve Mister, CRN president and chief executive officer, in his annual state-of-the-industry address. “[We represent] world-class companies turning out quality supplements that make a positive difference in the lives of over 150 million Americans.”

CRN’s partnership with NAD, for example, has generated more than 40 reviews of dietary supplement ads that either substantiated the claims being made or debunked them. Either way, the industry wins. “Several companies have ignored these challenges against their advertising at their peril and have faced FTC enforcement instead,” Mister said, suggesting that one by one bad players in the supplement industry soon may be forced to close up shop. “And with every case, the word spreads as to what constitutes appropriate advertising, that there is a new sheriff in town and that sheriff is the industry itself.”

As part of its advocacy program for the coming year, Mister outlined a number of focal points that potentially could impact the business of supplements. Food safety legislation, for example, is expected to be high on the agenda for the 2009 Congress, as congressional leaders wrestle with establishing a foreign-sourced ingredient pedigree that may entail cost-intensive country-of-origin labeling (see story page 68), border inspections, third-party certification and a number of potential fees, including those for inspection, import and facilities.

The Government Accountability Office is expected to issue a report on dietary supplements early in 2009, a report that’s expected to heighten congressional attention on the industry, Mister said.

The dietary supplement good manufacturing practices will enter year two of its three-year phase-in, as mid-tier supplement manufacturers and ingredient suppliers will have to join their larger supplement company cousins in complying with the GMPs this summer.

And while CRN has faithfully kept tabs on industry developments in an effort to enhance a quick reaction to critics of the industry, the association also has been a little more proactive in promoting supplements recently. Through the Council’s “Life…supplemented” media campaign, CRN has successfully placed almost 250 stories in the mainstream media, generating more than 170 million consumer impressions last year. The “Life…supplemented” Web site has received more than 70,000 visitors, Mister said, while more than 10,000 consumers have taken CRN’s My Wellness Scorecard.

CRN also has coupled its consumer outreach with a professional educational initiative designed to create better-informed healthcare professionals at the point of sale. “The more confident doctors, nurses, pharmacists and dietitians are in our products, the more likely they will be to integrate them into their practices and their recommendations to consumers,” Mister said.

CRN partnered with Drug Store News’ sister publication Pharmacy Practice this year on two separate continuing educational Webinars for pharmacists. The first, focused on dietary supplement regulation, attracted more than 1,000 pharmacists, Mister said. A second Webinar, on interpreting supplement research, attracted more than 750 pharmacists.

In September, CRN launched its Commitment Project in partnership with Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies to encourage use of folic acid by all new brides-to-be of childbearing age.

For 2009, CRN plans to place more than 10,000 brochures into the hands of consumers that encourage them to talk openly and honestly with their healthcare providers about the supplements they use and why, Mister added.

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Alimentary Health signs licensing agreement with P&G Pet Care

BY DSN STAFF

CORK, Ireland Alimentary Health on Wednesday announced that it has signed a worldwide licensing agreement with P&G Pet Care, makers of two of the worlds leading companion animal pet care products, Iams and Eukanuba.

Under the licensing agreement, Alimentary Health’s and P&G’s proprietary pet care probiotics will be used in P&G Pet Care’s nutritional supplement products. The global market for companion animal pet care products was estimated to be over $40 billion in 2007. Alimentary Health will receive an undisclosed royalty on sales of all products containing the pet care probiotics.

In 2001, Alimentary Health partnered with P&G to develop safe and effective probiotic products for gastrointestinal indications. In 2007, P&G Health Care started using Alimentary Health’s natural probiotic strain Bifidobacterium Infantis 35624, in Align in the US. Align is a daily probiotic supplement that helps build and maintain a strong and healthy digestive system.

“Today’s announcement comes as a result of our continued successful collaboration with P&G,” Barry Kiely, chief executive officer of Alimentary Health, said. “We are please that our ongoing efforts have once again resulted in Alimentary Health’s technology making it to the marketplace. This agreement is a result of a successful research and development program between the two companies and it brings us closer to fulfilling our vision of becoming the worldwide leader in the research, discovery and clinical development of probiotics. We are proud of our long standing association with such a leading multi-national company.”

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Kmart holds GoldK Day health services, screening day for seniors

BY Antoinette Alexander

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. Kmart, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sears Holding Corp., has announced that its pharmacy division will hold the annual GoldK Day on Nov. 18 for seniors.

“Kmart wants to remind seniors that we care about their health and GoldK Day is a way for our pharmacists to give back to these important customers by not only offering free screenings, but assistance with Medicare health plan selection and information about disease states, which can help seniors make better decisions about their healthcare,” Mark Doerr, vice president of Kmart pharmacy, said.

The activities planned for the event, to be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at all 1,100 Kmart pharmacy locations, include free blood pressure screenings, free memory screenings, Medicare health plan selection assistance and more.

No appointments are necessary. For more information, customers can all 800-866-0086 or visit www.kmart.com/pharmacy.

The initiatives are tied to the efforts of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, the annual initiative aimed at promoting early detection of memory problems and appropriate intervention.

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