Natural Products Center Hosts Annual Botanicals Conference April 15-17

Sessions to focus on regulatory issues in dietary supplements

OXFORD, Miss. – The Oxford International Conference on the Science of Botanicals, the premier annual event for discussing medicinal plants and dietary supplements, is taking a new twist this year to mark the 20th anniversary of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, or DSHEA, of 1994.

Rather than the latest science on botanical ingredients, the 13th annual ICSB will focus on “how companies can take the lead on raising the bar for quality and safety in the dietary supplement industry,” said Larry Walker, director of the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy’s National Center for Natural Products Research, the conference’s host since 2001.

“For the botanical supplement world, there has never been a meeting quite like this,” Walker said. “Regulatory agencies, trade associations, quality assurance, and analytical and safety people, as well as physicians, toxicologists and media representatives will be offering their perspectives on botanicals 20 years after DSHEA.”

That theme is the topic of the April 15-17 conference’s opening session and keynote address to be delivered by Daniel Fabricant, director the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Division of Dietary Supplement Programs. As director, Fabricant advises the FDA on policy issues involving dietary supplements, including the safety of new dietary ingredients, good manufacturing practices, or GMPs, and problems reported by consumers. He also is responsible for ensuring that supplements are safe, meet quality standards and are accurately labeled.

Before joining the FDA in February 2011, Fabricant was active in the dietary supplement industry. While vice president of the Natural Products Association – this country’s largest nonprofit dedicated to the makers and distributors of natural products – he was instrumental in winning a National Institutes of Health contract for the NPA’s work on a nationwide label database for dietary supplements.

The opening session of the conference, which takes place at Oxford’s Hampton Inn Conference Center, also features Loren D. Israelsen, president of the United Natural Products Alliance, an international trade association of select companies committed to providing consumers with natural products of superior quality and safety, and Mark Blumenthal, executive director of the American Botanical Council, a nonprofit research and education organization.

Since 1992, Israelson has been executive director of the Utah Natural Products Alliance, which was instrumental in development and passage of DSHEA in 1994. He also is president of LDI Group Inc., a consulting firm specializing in dietary supplements, functional foods and the emerging issues facing both industries.

Blumenthal helped found several companies that manufacture herbal products, some of the organizations that represent them (the Herb Trade Association, Herbal Products Association and Herb Research Foundation) and the organizations’ publications (Herb News and HerbalGram). A popular guest on radio and television talk shows and source for journalists, editors and writers, Blumenthal is frequently quoted in trade and popular presses.

The conference’s second session focuses on the FDA’s perspectives on GMP regulations, adverse event reporting systems, labeling and development of new botanical drugs. Angela F. Pope, a consumer safety officer on the FDA’s GMP Team; Cara Welch, a regulatory assistant in the FDA’s Division of Dietary Supplement Programs; and Charles Wu, a pharmacologist in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, will provide those perspectives.

In other sessions:

- Procter & Gamble, ChromaDex Inc. and Medicus Research executives will discuss what is being done to incorporate a culture of regulatory compliance within their companies

- Harvard Medical School, Einstein Medical Center and University of Minnesota clinicians will discuss problems associated with detecting, investigating and reporting dangerous supplements

- Herbalife and American Botanical Council executives and a medicinal chemist will discuss problems associated with communicating safety risks to supplement consumers

- Waters Corp., Agilent Technologies and CAMAG Scientific managers will discuss the latest in analytical techniques

- A New York Daily News reporter and editors from the Nutrition Business Journal and The Tan Sheet will discuss the media’s role in educating the industry and the public

In the conference’s closing session, representatives from the American Herbal Products Association, Council for Responsible Nutrition and Natural Products Association will provide industry reaction to information and opinions shared during previous sessions.

The conference is supported by a cooperative agreement between the NCNPR and the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

“Our mission is to put science behind dietary supplements, natural products and traditional forms of medicine,” said Ikhlas Khan, assistant director of NCNPR, director of NCNPR’s FDA Center for Excellence in Botanicals and the conference’s coordinator. “This year, we’re fulfilling that mission by enabling government, industry, trade, clinical and media representatives to share their perspectives, experiences and concerns about pressing issues affecting botanical dietary supplements with each other, as well as the conference’s more than 150 attendees.”

Israelson told a NutraIngredients-USA reporter last week that the annual ICSB has become “the most important regulatory gathering for the supplement industry.”

During the gathering, the “FDA leadership, academic leadership and industry executives meet for three days to consider the state of dietary supplement regulation, policy and areas of concern or opportunity,” he said. “Nowhere else does this happen in this way. It is vital that such a forum exist, and the National Center for Natural Products Research at Ole Miss (provides) that forum.”

The Waters Corp., United Natural Products Alliance and Agilent Technologies are the event’s major sponsors.

For a complete 2014 conference schedule, visit http://oxfordicsb.org.