In response to a recent investigation by Frontline and the NY Times calling into question the purity and safety of dietary supplements, Pharmaca has developed the following to help answer common customer questions.
Should I be taking supplements?
We believe that dietary and herbal supplements can be an integral part of a good health regimen, but they must be of the highest quality and purity in order to serve their purpose. That’s why Pharmaca adheres to stringent quality standards when selecting supplements for sale.
Why should I trust the purity of supplements on Pharmaca’s shelves?
We have deep expertise in the field of herbal supplements and understand there is a wide range in quality of products in the marketplace. It is for that reason that we have put in place a Vendor Quality Assurance Program (VQAP) designed specifically to vet our suppliers and their products. This program follows guidelines outlined in the FDA Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act, FDA 21 CFR 111 cGMP guidelines and USDA Organic standards.
What is the Vendor Quality Assurance Program?
We want to be the trusted editor for our customers when it comes to the quality of our vitamins and supplements, and the VQAP offers a framework for us to do so.
Through the VQAP, all of the herbal and dietary supplement brands that Pharmaca carries are evaluated for their use of current Good Manufacturing Practice standards, for the purity and potency of ingredients, and for their formulations and efficacy.
We also perform periodic verification of our vendors’ quality practices via on-site audits and self-audit questionnaires, which forces our supplement manufacturers to be completely transparent about their processes.
The VQAP self-audit questionnaires are reviewed using a graded approach to determine the level of quality practices the supplier has in place. Missing answers to the critical questions show potential adulteration and/or contamination problems with materials/products supplied. These questions deal with information about the vendor’s quality control personnel, specifications and related testing of raw materials/finished products, possible contamination of materials/products due to inadequate sanitation practices, inability to substantiate label information, and non-compliance with current food labeling regulations for potential allergens. If the vendor’s answers indicate possible contamination/adulteration issues with materials/products, the use of the vendor will be rejected.
Are there any other factors that go into your product selection?
In choosing our supplements, we also rely heavily on the expertise of our in-store practitioners and Integrative Health Advisory Board—made up of both medical and naturopathic doctors—who are well-versed in the use and efficacy of different supplements and brands.
Pharmaca also partners with brands of like mind, those that have a demonstrated history of using pure, efficacious ingredients. Some of these also qualify as “professional brands” that have been developed—and are in use—in doctors’ clinical practices.
Does it make a difference that Pharmaca’s staff includes licensed practitioners?
Yes. Our licensed pharmacists, naturopaths, herbalist and nutritionists are responsible for offering our customers sound counseling on the proper use of dietary supplements, and that they remain compliant with the government’s DSHEA regulations as they do so. Practitioners also undergo rigorous ongoing training to ensure they are up to date on the latest research concerning our brands and ingredients. The presence of all types of practitioners—both conventional and alternative—also allows us to provide a balanced, “integrative” approach that is not found in other vitamin and supplement retailers.