Recently Dr. Scott Gottlieb was sworn in as the 23rd Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And this past January saw Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen, a Republican on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), named acting chairman of the FTC. These two appointments will have an impact on many of our clients.
Food and Drug Administration and Dietary Supplements
The FDA and the FTC work together when it comes to rules and regulations regarding dietary supplements. The roll of the FDA focuses on claims found on product labeling, including packaging, inserts, and other promotional materials distributed at the point of sale.
The Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act(DSHEA) of 1994 significantly changed the FDA’s role in regulating supplement labeling. DSHEA doesn’t directly apply to advertising but it has generated many questions about the FDA’s and the FTC’s approach to dietary supplement advertising.
Federal Trade Commission and Dietary Supplements
The role of the FTC is to, “enforce laws outlawing unfair or deceptive acts or practices, and ensure that consumers get accurate information about dietary supplements so they can make informed decisions about these products.”
The FTC has primary responsibility for claims in advertising, including print and broadcast ads, infomercials, catalogs, and similar direct marketing materials. They ensure that advertising for any product, including dietary supplements, must be truthful, not misleading, and substantiated.
The Power of the FTC
During the past administration some people believe that the FTC overstepped it mandate. Included in this group is Steve Mister, president and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), a Washington-based trade association for the dietary supplement industry. Mister feels the FTC has overreached with regards to the scientific evidence that is required to support advertising.
According to Mister, “We’re not suggesting that … a new FTC should gut the new advertising requirements … but they should not be taking such an expansive view of how much science is required to support a claim.” His feelings may be correct.
The FTC has recently lost a number of court cases involving the requirement of “competent and reliable scientific evidence” in advertising. They’ve lost FTC v. Garden of Life, Basic Research v. FTC, and FTC v. Bayer. In each of these cases the FTC tried to enforce a higher standard that was beyond its own guidance.
The Impact on the Industry
With new representation in Washington, the FTC says it’s getting to work cutting down its regulatory footprint in line with President Trump’s agenda.
The strange thing is this; it doesn’t matter if there’s a Democrat or Republican in the White House. Anytime the rules change marketing materials, advertising and, as it relates to Adcraft Labels, the labeling on product packaging needs to change.
In some cases this may provide an opportunity to explore new and interesting labeling options. Perhaps it’s adding an extended content label to your packaging in order to provide all the information required by new legislation. Or a redesign to ensure the Supplement Facts is clear and easy to read. Maybe it’s time to think about adding textures and foils to your label to increase the shelf appeal of your products.
Changes in Regulations and Technology
While these past few months have seen changes in the administration in Washington, there have also been significant changes in the technology that creates and manufactures the labeling and packaging used in the dietary supplements industry. The new digital-flexo hybrid press, that forms the basis for our JetFlex Technology™, allows producers of dietary supplements to take their packaging to the next level.
The ability to personalize packaging with variable text and images, and the ability to increase shelf awareness using vibrant CMYK and Pantone® Colors are just some of the advantages of our new technology.
Whatever happens in Washington, keep positive and keep looking forward. Change can provide an opportunity for you to update your advertising and marketing materials along with creating a new look for your label and packaging. This may be the best time to adjust your marketing to keep current with any new laws and regulations while keeping current with the latest technology that will you increase your appeal to consumers.