High Wire Act

Setting a Higher Bar for Dietary Supplements

A remarkable collaboration is taking shape to set a higher bar for the quality and safety of dietary supplements. This week in Washington the Dietary Supplement Quality Collaborative (DSQC) brought together people from the supplement industry with consumer advocates, health professionals, and scientific organizations. This group has been taking shape over the last year. The shared agenda is to overcome the problem of poor dietary supplements that can harm consumers and thus the reputation of the industry.

It’s no small problem. Recently, for example, a dietary supplement executive was recently convicted of conspiracy and mail fraud in federal court proceedings. We are all constantly bombarded with appalling, fraudulent supplements aimed at people with obesity.

These frauds create confusion for people who need reliable, high quality dietary supplements. For post-op bariatric patients the need is especially important.

Diverse Stakeholders

The stakeholders are quite diverse. They include professional groups like the American Medical Association and pharmacists. AARP, the National Consumers League, and other consumer organizations participate. The Council for Responsible Nutrition and supplement makers are supporting this work. The Obesity Society and the Obesity Action Coalition have fully engaged, because shoddy or fraudulent dietary supplements can do great harm.

A Promising Start

Where is this headed? We see reasons for encouragement. FDA has a relatively new office for Dietary Supplements. Its new leader, Steven Tave, met with the group to explain the work and the goals of his group.

The DSQC is working on three tracks. At the top of the list is defining a high standard of quality. Next comes developing strategies for confronting illegal and poor quality products in the marketplace. And finally, the group has a team dedicated to education and awareness to support the DSQC’s goals.

DSQC is an ambitious collaboration, confronting difficult issues. But with a little luck, this group can make a big difference in a serious problem.

Click here for more on FDA’s Steven Tave and here for the LinkedIn group of the DSQC. For more on the problem of unsafe dietary supplements, click here.

High Wire Act, photograph © Nathan Rupert / flickr

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April 5, 2017