As a result of the pandemic, respiratory and seasonal illnesses, and other emerging threats, consumers are more interested, invested, and involved in their wellbeing than ever before. When it comes to health products, consumers are motivated by those that are clean or naturally-sourced, convenient, scientifically substantiated, and tailored to meet their personal needs. Thus, driving industry trends towards transparency, sustainability, personalization, and virtual approaches.
Although health products are governed worldwide by different sets of regulations that maintain standards of safety, efficacy, and quality, consumers often look for additional layers of compliance through third-party certifications.
For instance, SGS Nutrasource’s NutraStrong™ certification program classifies products with relevant and specific standards for each product category. NutraStrong™ highlights a brand’s commitment to quality through their label, manufacturing, testing as well as their corporate values/stewardship. By showcasing such certifications, companies offer transparency and depending on the type, a guarantee of truthful and not misleading label claims. While it is the responsibility of companies to produce safe, efficacious, and high-quality health products, third-party certification is a transparency tool that allows consumers to easily check compliance or other items of concern.
Along these lines, environmental issues and sustainable practices are top of mind for consumers. Taking a sustainable approach to production and distribution not only ensures ecosystem and industry longevity, but it builds trust within the global community. Some actions to consider are:
- The use of sustainable packaging such as biodegradable options
- Reducing/minimizing chemical and energy waste
- Reducing/replacing the use of undesirable moieties such as persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic substances
- Implementing new sustainable methods into the manufacturing processes
Despite the use of environmental risk assessments by most regulatory agencies around the world, there are generally no set standards or enforcement practices around sustainability. Regardless, consumers expect that companies implement some aspect of sustainability in their everyday processes, while maintaining product integrity and meeting regulatory requirements.
3. PERSONALIZED HEALTH, CARE, AND NUTRITION
Personalized health is rooted in the concept that one size does not fit all – the interpersonal differences in metabolism, genetics, microbiota, environment, and lifestyle contribute to the variant responses of individuals to drugs and dietary supplements. With recent knowledge of genes and the microbiome’s role in disease and treatment responses, there is a major shift towards this proactive, preventative, and personalized perspective. In turn, agencies are developing and implementing regulations to govern these advances in precision medicine, rare disease, and individualized gene therapies. For companies already in or interested in this space, staying apprised of any and all regulatory updates is critical when incorporating new technologies or products and crucial to maintaining compliance.
4. Digital Solutions and Virtual Care
The need for personalized approaches coupled with the complexity and rise in the use of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) have put digital solutions and virtual care on the forefront of trending topics in health care.
For example, prior to the pandemic, decentralized clinical trials and remote patient monitoring were not widely used techniques. However, with COVID-19 hindering the progress of clinical trials and participant recruitment, decentralized clinical trials were adopted, providing an alternative way to move the research forward. While decentralized or hybrid clinical trial models may not be appropriate for all clinical study designs, they prompted regulators to rapidly respond and create guidance to support the industry’s continued push toward electronic methods to create efficiencies and reach potential study participants who may not otherwise have opportunities to benefit from participation in clinical trials. This area continues to evolve and provides further opportunities for the future.
Product improvements and innovation are made by companies in response to consumer demands for transparency, sustainability, personalization, and virtual solutions, with government agencies following suit and updating regulations. The collaboration between consumers shaping the trends, industry adapting, and regulatory agencies accommodating serves to advance and grow the health product sector.
SGS Nutrasource’s team is comprised of various subject matter experts ranging from analytical testing to clinical to regulatory professionals – all of which operate in a cross-functional project management model and are uniquely positioned to help across multiple service offerings, including the areas mentioned above.