Product Authenticity, Not Just a Problem for Handbags
By Jaclyn Chasse, ND
Nowadays, you can buy supplements almost anywhere.
In addition to traditional options like vitamin stores, natural food stores, and your office, patients can now buy supplements online from vitamin retailers, online dispensaries and even eBay! We’re not talking only about retail brands – now some professional brands can also be found online, creating a threat to your practice’s bottom line if you depend on supplement sales as a source of revenue.
I’ve had patients ask whether it matters where they purchase their refills of supplements. The answer is: absolutely!
While many parameters of quality with supplement choices stems from what happens in the manufacturing process, the storage, shipping, and tracking of supplements after manufacturing is complete also impacts product quality.
Here are some key considerations to share with your patients when you talk about their recommendations.
Supplement storage: When a high-quality dietary supplement is manufactured, companies conduct testing to determine how long the product will remain potent for. This is called stability testing, and tests the product for it’s quality through its expiration date. The expiration date is correct as long as the product is stored properly. Distributors of dietary supplements like Emerson are required to store products within a temperature and humidity range in order to preserve product integrity. When patients order from an online retailer, there’s no telling how the product was stored, how long it sat at room temperature, and the conditions it was exposed to during shipping. This is especially concerning with highly perishable products like probiotics and with products close to their expiration date.
Product authenticity: You thought it was only handbags, but there have been instances of supplements for sale online that are labeled as a particular brand, but they were not manufactured by that brand. Who’d have thought there could be a black market for vitamins?
Product tracking: In the unlikely (but important) scenario that a product is recalled, you depend upon your supplement source to let you know that there could be a problem. Only the best suppliers have the ability to alert their customers in the instance they’ve bought a product which is later recalled.
You could be buying “nothing”: The first two considerations assume that your patient is going online and searching for the same product and brand at a cheaper price. Another scenario I see is when patients try to find the same ingredient under a less expensive brand. A story comes to mind of a colleague who saw supplements for sale at the local dollar store. They purchased several and sent them to a lab for testing. The fish oil? It came back as canola oil. Vitamins were significantly sub potent. The results were laughable. While this is an extreme example, I could share personal examples where my patient has purchased another brand and had a noticeable decline in the effect of the product.
We are all aware of the quality challenges in the dietary supplement industry. It’s why you trust a company like Emerson and the Emerson Quality Program (EQP℠) to work with to ensure your patients’ products are the best available.
Be sure to share this information with your patients to ensure they stay with only the most reliable, effective products.