The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) and the United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA) have launched a joint campaign to develop working relationships with state attorneys general (AG) and educate state AGs about the herbal supplement industry. This is the latest effort by AHPA and UNPA to ensure state AGs have an accurate understanding of the industry.
Roughly one year ago, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman initiated the first of two still-unresolved regulatory actions against dietary supplement retailers and manufacturers. Attorney General Schneiderman subsequently secured support from 13 other state AGs and issued a letter to Congress requesting an inquiry into the botanical supplements industry. Most recently, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum sued a supplement retailer for including picamilon in its supplement products.
While the state AGs' actions may be well intentioned, an accurate and detailed depiction of the industry has yet to be conveyed. AHPA and UNPA's campaign provides an opportunity for industry to offer expertise on the comprehensive regulations herbal supplements must comply with, and the nuances unique to herbal supplement products. A balanced portrayal will ensure state AGs' actions yield the intended result of protecting consumer interests without causing unnecessary alarm in the absence of a complete understanding of the laws under which supplements are marketed.
The associations have hired the Washington, D.C.-based law firm BuckleySandler and attorney Douglas Gansler to help deliver information and expertise about the industry to state AGs. Gansler was the attorney general of Maryland from 2006-2014 and is the most recent past president of the National Association of Attorneys General.
The campaign has the following objectives:
- Build positive, collaborative relationships with state AGs, their office and staffs
- Provide resources for state AGs in support of responsible industry and to create industry advocates
- Shift the focus of state AG regulatory efforts toward unsafe and adulterated products that are falsely labeled as supplements
- Educate state AGs about responsible industry and the economic significance of dietary supplement companies on state economies
- Rebut inaccurate media accusations
- Provide timely information, education and resources regarding state AG activity to AHPA and UNPA member companies
"AHPA fully supports regulators' efforts to ensure consumers have informed access to safe and high-quality herbal products including dietary supplements," said AHPA President Michael McGuffin. "This campaign is a unique opportunity to partner with state AGs to ensure such efforts are based on accurate information."
"UNPA sees this joint state AG project as a logical extension of the regulatory work both organizations already do at the federal level," said UNPA President Loren Israelsen. "It is our expectation that, with Mr. Gansler's assistance, we will be able to create positive, collaborative working relationships with state attorneys general in support of the responsible dietary supplement industry."
The joint AHPA/UNPA state AG representation campaign has been initially funded by the generous support from the following companies:
- Emerson Ecologics
- Essential Formulas
- Herb Pharm
- NOW Foods
- PLT Health Solutions
- Thorne Research
Additional funding for the project is actively being solicited by the two trade organizations. For more information or to contribute to this campaign, contact AHPA.