Holistic Primary Care publishes dietary supplement quality primer for clinicians
October 12, 2017
by John Weeks, Publisher/Editor of The Integrator Blog News and ReportsVirtually all integrative, naturopathic, holistic and multiple other practitioners who favor natural medicine depend daily on the quality of the botanicals and dietary supplements they prescribe. Most will rely—as many conventional clinicians do for drug prescription guidance—on information from manufacturers and the detail people they hire to phones, exhibits, and to press the flesh clinic-to-clinic. For all such practitioners, Holistic Primary Care and its editor Erik Goldman has provided a terrific resource through its new 24-page report Quality Counts: A Clinician’s Guide to Supplement Quality.The context is highly politicized. Antagonists to dietary supplements and integrative practices will assert these agents are totally unregulated. Often on the defensive, supplement industry groups will respond by pointing to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994 to which products must conform. Still, as Goldman notes: “There’s no question that U.S. supplement regulations are problematic, that enforcement is inconsistent, and that poor-quality products reach the market.” Complicating things, as a Goldman collaborator on Quality Counts, Michael Levin, shared in a recent Integrative Practitioner Interview, merely meeting these regulatory standards – for those who do -- may not guarantee “quality.”The questions of quality for clinicians and their patients target a huge chunk of the industry significant economic. Quality Counts cites a Nutrition Business Journal finding that practitioner sales “now represent almost 10 percent of all U.S. supplement sales, generating $3.7 billion in revenue per year.”Yet low levels of practitioner understanding pervade much of the integrative community. Holistic Primary Care’s Goldman – whose reporting career began at Elsevier’s International Medical News Group -- shares from a 2016 Holistic Primary Care survey that “57 percent of [respondent clinicians] did not recognize that the DSHEA as the key statute governing the industry.” Over half don’t even know the regulatory framework, much less the details.At the same time, writes Goldman, practitioners are nominally very interested: “Quality is certainly on the minds of Holistic Primary Care’s practitioners when they evaluate supplements: heavy metal free (77 percent); sweetener-free, (72 percent); and allergen-free (61 percent).”The Goldman-led white paper offers guidance to clinicians on kinds of characteristics to seek in a company if a clinician is seeking to assure quality. For instance: Does it complete the basics of DSHEA? Is the company a member of industry associations? Does it have a robust quality assurance staff? Does it invest in research? Do labels show expiration dates and self-life information? Goldman provides background information for these and other useful questions.The report consists of a series of articles in which the themes range across multiple topics that can support clinician understanding of current quality issues:
- Hallmarks of “evidence-based” quality
- Federal enforcement actions
- Industry initiatives to improve quality
- Adverse events reporting rules
- Quality control measures for probiotics, botanicals, and Omega-3s.