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New FDA Draft Guidance Aims to Increase Safety Information About Dietary Supplement Marketplace

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced the availability of a draft guidance aimed at increasing the amount of safety information the agency has about the dietary supplement marketplace by providing the industry an opportunity to submit late new dietary ingredient (NDI) notifications.

The FDA wants consumers who use dietary supplements to know that today’s draft guidance, if finalized, will advise the dietary supplement industry that the agency intends to exercise enforcement discretion, for a limited time and in limited circumstances, to encourage manufacturers and distributors to correct any past failures to submit a required NDI notification. By providing industry with an opportunity to correct past failures to submit required safety information, the FDA can gain more safety information about the dietary supplement marketplace and better protect public health. 

“We remain committed to a flexible framework for dietary supplements that ensures the safety of these products for consumers,” said Cara Welch, Ph.D., director of the Office of Dietary Supplement Programs in the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN). “The resulting notifications the agency receives through this period of enforcement discretion will help increase the amount of safety information we have about NDI-containing dietary supplements in the marketplace.” 

The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) requires manufacturers and distributors who wish to market a dietary supplement containing an NDI to notify the FDA before marketing, unless a legal exception applies. The notification must contain the safety information that a manufacturer relied upon to conclude the dietary supplement containing the NDI is reasonably expected to be safe.  The NDI notification process is the FDA’s only chance to evaluate the safety of a dietary supplement before it becomes available to consumers.  For dietary supplements that do not contain an NDI, the law does not require manufacturers to submit safety information to the FDA before marketing.  The FDA is aware that in the more than 27 years since the requirement was established, some dietary supplement firms have marketed products for which a premarket NDI notification was required, but never submitted.

The enforcement discretion policy proposed in this draft guidance relates solely to the failure to submit an NDI notification. For example, it would not extend to NDI-containing dietary supplements that are adulterated for safety reasons or that violate any other regulatory requirements that pertain to dietary supplements. This temporary policy also should help facilitate enforcement actions against those that remain out of compliance with the NDI notification requirements after the enforcement discretion period ends.

In a February 2019 statement about new efforts to strengthen the regulation of dietary supplements through modernization and reform, the FDA emphasized the need to ensure that our regulatory framework is flexible yet comprehensive enough to effectively evaluate product safety, while promoting innovation. The FDA also stated that fostering the submission of NDI notifications would be key to this effort. This draft guidance is a critical first step toward encouraging those submissions.

If the draft guidance is finalized without change, the enforcement discretion period to submit a late notification would start when the guidance is published, would last 180 days, and would apply only to products on the market when the Federal Register notice announcing the draft guidance was published. Along with this draft guidance, the FDA is also developing a new submission type through the CFSAN Online Submission Module to provide a dedicated pathway for stakeholders to electronically submit their late notifications. 
 

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