We are often asked a question about the past and the future of direct selling, network marketing and the FDA. It’s a good question because so many major players in our industry, ranging from Herbalife to Nikken, to Melaleuca to Amway, are driven by health products and dietary supplements. The direction of the industry has generally been a very good one. Until the mid-1990s, companies were very concerned about what health claims they could make about products. It came to a head in 1994 when the FDA’s strictness regarding claims became so difficult that Congress almost unanimously passed a bill called “The Dietary Supplement Health Education Act (DSHEA)” of 1994, which recognized the importance of providing health information to the consumer so long as it was accurate, focused on structure/function, claims that would help people and not pure medical disease prevention and cure claims. Many rules were adopted, but 1994 marked a sea of change in the industry’s relationship with the FDA. Since then, the industry has been able to be very successful in marketing health-related products. Some companies go past the line. As with all relationships between government and industry, there are extremes one way or the other, but the pendulum always swings back to the middle. Perhaps that legislation may have provided a little too much leeway for the industry? We will see some pushback but overall the industry today has a very good relationship with the FDA.

For more information on the MLM industry and the FDA, read the article “FDA Health Claims: The Final Rules.” Or, watch the companion video to this blog post: What is the relationship between MLM and the FDA?

As always, visit www.mlmlegal.com and www.mlmattorney.com for a plethora of information on the direct selling industry.

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