The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) defines dietary supplements as food and not drugs. This is critical to maintaining access to high quality, natural food-supplements. A natural product, by definition, may not be patent-protected.
Without the promise of the economic reward that follows successfully patenting a product, it is impossible to weather the new-drug approval process, which can literally cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Thus, if supplements were categorized as drugs and required to go through the new-drug approval process, we would see most of our supplements disappear.
Defending DSHEA from attacks by the media, the pharmaceutical industry and elected officials who prefer a pre-market approval approach is a top priority.