Feb 17, 2003: What is the new certification for dietary supplements?

I thought you would be interested in information about the USP certification for dietary supplements.  The USP is a non-government organization that promotes public health by establishing standards, which are developed by a process of public involvement.  The USP is a not-for-profit organization that is primarily supported by volunteers representing pharmacy, medicine, and other health care professions.  For information on USP visit www.usp-dsvp.org.  

The United States Pharmacopeia’s (USP) new Dietary Supplement Verification Program (DSVP) certification mark will now be on product packaging.  The DSVP mark signifies that the supplement has undergone independent testing.

Dietary supplements, including vitamins, nutritional supplements and sports nutrition products, consume by about 151 million Americans who spend about $17 billion annually.  The U .S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates these supplements as foods, not medicines.  USP is named in the law administered by the FDA as the nation’s official compendium for dietary supplement standards, although compliance with these standards is voluntary, and not enforced by the FDA.

USP’s Dietary Supplement Verification Program (DSVP) was first launched in November 2001 to ensure the dietary supplement products contain the ingredients stated on the product label.  However, no dietary supplement certification can accurately verify health benefits or other nutritional support claims made on product labels.  USP encourages consumers to speak with their physician or health care provider to evaluate their individual use of dietary supplements.

USP’s DSVP certification mark ensures that a dietary supplement product:

    Contains the declared ingredients on the product label;
    Contains the amount or strength of ingredients declared on the
Product label; 
    Meets requirements for limits on potential contaminants; and    
    Has been manufactured properly by complying with USP and proposed FDA standards for “good manufacturing practices”

Several supplement manufacturers have already submitted products to be tested and verified, and supplements with the USP DSVP certification mark are now appearing on store shelves nationwide.  Consumers can visit www.usp-dsvp.org for additional information on DSVP and to obtain a complete list of participating manufacturers.

As always, if there are any questions, call the MTPC.

I am interested in any questions that you would like answered in “Question of the Week.”  Please e-mail me with any suggestions at donna.seger@Vanderbilt.edu

Donna Seger, M.D.
Medical Director, Middle Tennessee Poison Center