Former FDA Regulator Now Leads the Natural Products Association
I think the heading of this podcast sounds intriguing considering the decades long animosity between the FDA and the natural products industry. Dr. Daniel Fabricant holds the unique position of being involved with FDA regulation of nutritional supplement manufacturers to becoming the Executive Director and CEO of the nation’s only trade association for natural products. In fact, Dr. Fabricant was the Vice-President of Scientific Affairs for the NPA prior to joining the FDA as it’s primary regulator of dietary supplements and then returning to head up the Natural Products Association. I became so curious to interview Dr. Fabricant and learn more about his interesting journey and gain some insight into the current thinking about natural supplements at the FDA.
As the only trade association for the natural products industry, the NPA is responsible for maintaining a presence before Congress and to be an advocate for the natural products industry in dealings with the FDA. The NPA is also responsible for education of the retailers, manufacturers and many other about the challenging facing the industry and helping to shape policies that further the growth and awareness of natural products.
Natural products have becoming so popular that there are plenty of products for consumers. The problem is that there are a lot of inferior products and it is challenging even for knowledgeable people to sort out fact from fiction. There is a lot of information out that is simply not accurate. You can read more about my thoughts on the challenges faced by consumers who love natural products and the companies that make those products in my podcast number 100. Part of Dr. Fabricant’s responsibility is to understand those challenges and help lead the industry in a responsible way.
This is not an easy job. There are lot’s of competing demands. The natural products industry is very broad. It includes foods, cosmetics, supplements, household goods, education and each of these areas has it’s own set of concerns. There are the legislative and regulatory concerns. The NPA is the voice to media and must deal with a seemingly biased view about nutrition and especially a more negative attitude towards nutritional supplements.
So I just wanted to know what Dr. Fabricant knows about the current state of affairs and what he sees looking forward. The times have changed and it is no longer the same small close knit industry as it was. It this interview you will learn the insider’s view of the natural products industry. At the least, I would like you to understand the challenges faced by those companies that bring you the products you love and that there are many people who are invested the preserving your access to the best nutritional products. They are deserving of your support and gratitude. We need our champions and the NPA is one of the most important champions for all of us who love and use natural products.
So this interview is not really geared for consumers, except that it is good for you to know that there is a group of people and an industry of committed businesses that are working very hard to make sure that you have access to the best nutritional products and to the science that lead to those products. This is a little insight behind the scenes.
The room conditions were not ideal for the interview so the overall sound quality is not the best. We were in the middle of a big empty banquet hall. We had to ferret out a table and chairs before we could start. In fact, we had the lights go out on us twice while conducting the interview, so part of the interview was conducted by iPhone Flashlight. So we just continued on. This is a make the best of it interview and we did. I enjoyed my conversation with Dr. Fabricant, I think you will too.
Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D.
Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D. is Executive Director and CEO of the Natural Products Association (NPA), the nation’s largest and oldest trade organization representing the natural products industry, including dietary supplements, foods, personal care products and more. He is responsible for implementing board policy for the advancement and protection of the natural products industry, while overseeing every aspect of the association’s programs and activities. Most recently, Dr. Fabricant served as the Director of the Division of Dietary Supplement Programs at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), where he directed agency policy, public affairs and regulatory action regarding regulation of the dietary supplement industry for more than three years. While with the agency, he successfully navigated the large, heavily-matrixed governmental organizational structure to bring life to a regulatory function that was non-existent for almost 20 years. Prior to the FDA, Dr. Fabricant was vice president, global government and scientific affairs, for NPA, responsible for establishing and leading industry coalitions dealing with a range of legislative, regulatory and scientific matters. Dr. Fabricant carried his interest in natural products into the classroom, earning a Ph.D. in Pharmacognosy from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he has served as an adjunct professor in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy since 2009. Pharmacognosy is the study of drugs derived from natural sources (plants and animals). He has also published extensively and is internationally recognized for his regulatory and governmental public health expertise and natural products research.