Business View Magazine Jan-2019

149 ply without scientific evidence proving their safety. As the opioid epidemic continues to wreak havoc across the country, it comes as no surprise that people would turn to natural or plant-based solu- tions. But just because something is natural does not mean it is safe, or that it should be made widely available without going through the normal regu- latory process. A good example of this is kratom, a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia that has been linked to overdose deaths and that addiction specialists warn could be making the opioid crisis worse. Kratom is banned in Vermont, the District of Columbia, and five other states for a reason, and NPA shares the FDA’s concerns that kratom, like any other product, should be subject to the same rules that our industry follows. Cannabidiol or CBD is another area that has attracted attention.While CBDs may not present the same safety concerns as kratom, there is still a proven path for these products to come to market, as the FDA recently demonstrated with the approval of Epidiolex, a CBD-based drug approved to treat epilepsy. Responsible companies must go through the regulatory process, ensuring the products that make it to consumers are proven to be safe and reli- able. Focusing on kratom and CBD is important, be- cause a large part of our industry’s success is due to a strong federal regulatory regime, significant investment in product safety and quality, consumer demand, and self-regulatory programs developed by the men and women of our industry. Another of our leading priorities is continuing to increase nutrition for all Americans by expanding access to nutritional supplements through federal and state social assistance programs and tax incen- tives. We have long advocated that supplements be included in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP) and the Women, Infants, and Chil- dren (WIC) programs.WIC provides eight million American families the ability to purchase healthy and nutritious foods.With the help of our Members of Congress,we can provide low income women, infants, and children the equal access to vitamin and mineral supplements they deserve. Likewise, allowing American consumers to use Health Savings Account (HSA) and Flexible Spend- ing Account (FSA) dollars on nutritional and dietary supplements is another innovation that could lead to better nutrition, better health, and potentially fewer hospital visits.The NPA is leading the coali- tion to help pass the Health Savings Act,which makes needed changes to tax laws so that nutri- tional supplements are treated equally and can qualify for HSA and FSA expenditures. But Washington, D.C. and state capitals are in con- stant states of change, and we must stay committed to maintaining our current relationships and begin building new ones. Policymakers must know that our industry is safe and strongly-regulated.They must understand that Americans depend on today’s products and are hungry for more new, natural alter- natives in their lives.And theymust realize the posi- tive role our industry plays, not just for the health of millions of Americans, but also the health of the U.S. economy and good, high-paying jobs. This is our charge at the Natural Products Asso- ciation, and we look forward to engaging in these and other critical public policy debates in the year ahead.