In early August 2022, the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) began accepting comments on the draft of its ODS strategic plan for 2022-2026. In response to NIH’s ODS request for comment, industry stakeholders such as the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA; Silver Spring, MD) and The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN; Washington, DC) submitted comments on Aug. 31. .
AHPA’s main input was to encourage greater involvement of members of the nutritional supplement community in ODS activities. Many of the strategies proposed by ODSP would benefit from working with industry stakeholders, AHPA says. The association also requested that ODS provide new or updated ODS resources, educational activities, and research results directly to dietary supplement industry associations as a standard part of the dissemination activity.
“These suggestions reflect the herbal community’s shared interest in the expanding scientific basis for herbal supplements,” Robert Marriott, AHPA’s director of regulatory affairs, said in a press release. “Increased participation from private and public stakeholders will help the agency identify research opportunities and sources of insight that might otherwise be missed.”
The call for more cooperation with the industry was also shared by CRN. “Because the industry is a key stakeholder in the nutritional supplement space, we recommend creating specific language in the strategic plan about developing and maintaining two-way communications and potential partnerships with industry members,” said Andrea Wong, PhD, senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at CRN, in a press release. “Much of the language is a one-way street, from ODS to industry, but doesn’t seem to be encouraged from industry to ODS, other than commenting on the strategic plan. Having an industry advisory board with members of companies of all sizes, along with trade associations, could support two-way communication.”
CRN also made suggestions about possible knowledge gaps that ODS should address. Here, Wong mentioned the lack of research on the use of dietary supplements in contributing to unique nutritional needs in lactating women. “ODS could conduct or support research in this area and inform consumers and healthcare providers about the different nutritional needs during the postpartum period compared to during pregnancy,” she explains. In addition, CRN also encouraged the development of a research paradigm that would investigate defined outcome measures associated with health promotion, which CRN believes is the goal of dietary supplements, not disease prevention, as current research typically assesses.