“I’m proud that our member companies remain steadfast in their commitment to support the effective self-regulation of this dietary supplement advertising program,” said CRNF President Steve Mister. “By holding companies accountable to accurate advertising and promoting fair play within the business community, this program helps protect consumers and foster trust in the marketplace.”
The CRN/NAD self-regulatory initiative, which celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2016, has been cited by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as a demonstration of “…just how impactful self-regulation can be.” Since the program’s inception in 2006, the NAD has issued nearly 300 decisions involving dietary supplement advertising.
“We appreciate the CRN Foundation’s ongoing support for this program. Through this support, we’ve been able to build a meaningful, sustainable self-regulatory initiative for the dietary supplement industry that the FTC has publicly recognized as a ‘valuable complement to [the agency’s] own enforcement efforts to eliminate fraud in [the dietary supplement] industry,” said C. Lee Peeler, president & CEO of the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council (ASRC), which sets the policies and procedures for NAD, and executive vice president of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
In addition to NAD’s ongoing monitoring of dietary supplement ads, the program provides a process for companies to challenge competitors whose advertisements appear misleading or unsubstantiated. NAD independently reviews the challenged advertisements to ensure that the advertiser has a “reasonable basis” for the challenged claims. Based on its review of the information submitted by the advertiser, NAD makes recommendations as to whether the advertising should be modified or discontinued, or determines the advertiser’s evidence provides adequate substantiation.
“The advertising industry has developed a uniquely effective self-regulatory model,” said Mr. Peeler. “It’s a model that is good for consumers and good for ethical advertisers.” According to NAD, companies comply with its recommendations at a rate of more than 90 percent of the time. In cases where a company refuses to engage in the process, NAD will publicly refer the advertiser to the appropriate government agency, often the FTC, for review.
CRN also files its own challenges with NAD based on ads submitted to the association and reviewed by a voluntary task force of its members. Rend Al-Mondhiry, CRN’s associate general counsel, who oversees the CRN filings, advises, “One of the reasons the CRN/NAD program works is that companies appreciate the opportunity to self-correct if there are concerns about their ads. The alternative to self-regulatory programs such as the NAD is more costly, onerous litigation or government enforcement action. No company wants to be in that position.”
As a service to all companies in the dietary supplement industry, CRN has developed a searchable compilation of all dietary supplement advertising decisions issued by the NAD, available at no charge on CRN’s website. The full decisions are available by subscription on ASRC’s website.
The NAD program is one of several self-regulatory initiatives spearheaded by CRN. Other programs include the Supplement OWL (Online Wellness Library), the dietary supplement product registry; a compilation of available FTC advertising enforcement actions related to dietary supplements and functional food since 2003 (for CRN Members only); an FDA Warning Letter Database; a series of Voluntary Guidelines/Best Practices for caffeine-containing dietary supplement products, enzyme dietary supplement products, protein labeling of dietary supplements and functional food; and more.
NAD reviews print, broadcast, infomercial, and web-based advertising and opens cases prompted by complaints from competitors, consumers, and following its own monitoring. More information on the NAD program, including information on how to file a competitive claim and a searchable compilation of cases to assist dietary supplement companies in avoiding misleading, non-substantiated, or deceptive advertising claims is available on CRN’s website: www.crnusa.org/self-regulation/crn-nad-initiative