A Question of Standards

The nutraceuticals and natural healthcare market has grown in leaps and bounds, never has there been so much interest and so much need. Rapid growth has, however, led to problems in the field producing unwanted attention and pressure on the nutraceuticals industry. The media is happy to report on ingredient mismatches on labels and even missing ingredients. There have been many widely publicised recalls including products adulterated with dangerous prescription pharmaceuticals, the OTC sexual health industry is one such example. The result: authorities are pushing for ever greater regulation and putting ever more pressure on documentation, complex bureaucratic rules, quicker recalls and warnings.  This is one of the reasons NAMËNA chose sexual health as one of its first products to bring to the Canadian marketplace. We developed our IGNITE-SX™ product working closely with the needs of the public and Health Canada.

The response from the industry to the media coverage is to push back and resist any changes as dangerous to the cause. However, the leave-us-alone response could be counterproductive and lead to public unease that all the industry cares about is a pretty package and a nice income, when our real principle is absolutely the provision of nutraceutical and natural health products with a purpose and actual benefit to the user.

The solution is entirely in our own hands. There is a need to take control and show that standards matter, quality matters, science matters, innovation matters and public trust matters. By doing this there will be no need for strong handed government interventions and an ever expanding plethora of expensive rules and regulations. Without it only the multinationals will be able to afford the process and the public will be served a range of stale cloned products lacking the innovation and drive that only small focussed companies can bring.

We need to embrace innovation and quality by design. With this approach we can confidently state that we know what our products are and that they deliver what we say. We have the knowledge, we have the science, we have the technology and we need to employ this in the service of the public. Too often we are targeting a closed niche and not the people.  There must be no more missing or extra ingredients, labels must reflect the truth, we must know and be able trace all our source materials and replace stories with evidence.

As a natural products industry we have many advantages. We know we can develop and provide products for an aging population to live healthier, more physically and sexually active and productive lives. We know how to develop supplements to support the very sick in treatment for a better therapeutic response and outcome. We know how to provide relief to illnesses where there are no established treatments. And we know the public wants to see and believe in these products. So why should we defend products where most of the ingredients will never be made available for the body to use?

Instead of the authorities telling what to do, we can demonstrate to both the authorities and the public what we can do by harnessing the best techniques and technologies from the health care industry to unleash the best features of natural health products.

In some circumstances, we need supplementary nutrients immediately and at higher doses than normal to provide a boost to the system. For this case we need immediate release products and have to regulate dosing carefully as some will not be used as desired. However in other circumstances, particularly under conditions of high stress or chronic illness, the body needs a constant supply of the nutrients it lacks and needs to optimise recovery. The technology to allow the optimal release and availability of natural substances has been perfected over years. The digestive tract has different stages of acid, alkaline and neutral conditions; there are different degrees of water content and microbiomes. It is known how to allow nutraceuticals to be released over time across all the different conditions that are found in the body. For some products this is exactly what is needed and fits more closely the intake of nutrients from food which are slowly digested, released and absorbed over the passage of time. It also means that by employing this technology you can reduce the waste of large amounts of nutrients being released all at once and excreted before they can be used as needed. New cutting-edge brands like our BIOSYNC™ employ tailored release technology which allow the consumer to be sure that they are getting what they purchased and the body to access nutrients throughout the day when it is needed. It also demonstrates to the regulatory authorities that we can bring 21st century technology to the natural products market and deliver exactly what we claim.

Today we have access to a whole world of nutraceutical ingredients, we can extract, purify and make better targeted combinations of ingredients for every age, every condition, better balanced and with longer duration of action. We can put back into our bodies what the stresses of life and our increasingly processed food is missing.

There are many disorders and diseases, from migraine to complex metabolic disorders where natural products can be of great benefit, in some cases potentially the only benefit. Strong claims however require strong and credible evidence. We have some: lutein does improve vision; niacin, omega-3 fish oils and psyllium can reduce cholesterol and triglycerides; potassium, L-arginine, vitamin C, cocoa flavonoids, beetroot juice, coenzyme Q10 can help reduce blood pressure; but tea does not cure cancer; powdered rhinoceros horn is not a sexual enhancer and beetroot is not a treatment for aids. To make sure our industry is more relevant and credible with both the wider public and the authorities, we need to ensure that there are more studies and data to support our claims, not marketing studies, but actual clinical studies to remove all doubt about the benefits we can offer. Quality by design must cover all aspects from development to manufacturing and sale. By demonstrating that our industry understands the science at the beginning and the impact on the patient at the end, we remove any doubts to the wider public about our value and provide the authorities the best reason to allow us to continue to develop our own standards.

We are becoming more accepted as an industry, more credible as providers of healthcare and we must build on that with good science, advanced formulations and validated technologies. We at NAMËNA are just one of the companies now following this path, we hope to see more pro-active companies drive the industry to greater success. The hard truth is: at the moment the standards are ours to write, if we don’t, the standards will be set for us – and not to our, or the consumers, advantage.

– Published in Health & Wellness Retailer Magazine, July 2017

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Dr. John S. Andrews
Written by Dr. John S. Andrews, CEO of Namëna Biosciences, a Canadian bioscience company and makers of BIOSYNC and IGNITE-SX.
2018-06-22T17:57:09+00:00