Cara Welch named permanent director of ODSP at FDA

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Dr Cara Welch speaking with NutraIngredients-USA in 2015
Dr Cara Welch speaking with NutraIngredients-USA in 2015

Related tags Fda ODSP Office of Dietary Supplement Programs Cara Welch Dietary supplements

The US Food and Drug Administration has announced that Dr Cara Welch will be the new permanent director of its Office of Dietary Supplement Programs. The announcement was welcomed by industry trade groups.

The FDA announced yesterday that Dr Welch would commence her role as ODSP director on Monday, March 14.

Dr Welch joined FDA in 2014 and most recently served the Agency as ODSP deputy director. She also had a six-month stint last year as the Office’s acting director after the departure of Steven Tave in March 2021. Previously, Dr Welch was a senior advisor in ODSP and has also served as a special assistant in the Office of Policy, Legislation and International Affairs in the Office of the Commissioner.

Susan Mayne, Director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) at FDA, welcomed Dr Welch’s appointment, noting, “Cara joined CFSAN in 2014 as a reviewer for current good manufacturing practices and labeling cases in what was then the Division of Dietary Supplement Programs.  Over the next two years she played a prominent role in conceptualizing and laying the groundwork for decisions that ultimately led to the creation and elevation of the Division of Dietary Supplement Programs to the office it is today.”​ 

Before joining CFSAN, Dr Welch spent four years in the department of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs at the Natural Products Association (NPA). 

Dr Welch has a PhD in medicinal chemistry from Rutgers University and undergraduate and graduate degrees in chemistry.  

“Cara’s education as a scientist along with her leadership and technical expertise in dietary supplement policy and compliance make her uniquely qualified to effectively carry out the roles and responsibilities of ODSP director,”​ added Dr Mayne.

“A deep understanding of the regulatory and technical aspects of the dietary supplement industry”

Commenting on the news, Loren Israelsen President of the United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA), told us: “UNPA congratulates Dr. Cara Welch on her appointment as Director of the FDA's Office of Dietary Supplement Programs.

“She brings a deep understanding of the regulatory and technical aspects of the dietary supplement industry.

“We look forward to working with Dr. Welch in the future.”

Daniel Fabricant, PhD, president and CEO of the Natural Products Associations (NPA), commented: “I am glad someone is in the chair on a permanent basis, at an important time with some uncertainties like NAC, CBD, etc.

“On a personal note, I hired Cara at NPA and at FDA and very happy to see her get the position she wanted and deserves. While we don’t always agree having someone with the NPA background leading that part of FDA was good for all in the past, we’re hopeful that is true in the future.”

We will update this article as more reaction to the announcement comes in.

Michael McGuffin, ​President of the American Herbal Products Association, said: “AHPA congratulates Dr. Welch for her selection as director of FDA’s Office of Dietary Supplement Programs.

“The herbal products industry has many interests in common with FDA, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with ODSP now that Dr. Welch is filling this important leadership role.” 

Duffy MacKay, Senior Vice President of Dietary Supplements of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), said: “CHPA congratulates Dr. Welch on her permanent appointment as Director of ODSP. This is a tremendous and well-deserved career achievement. Her experience, knowledge of the issues, and previous leadership at ODSP will surely be good for FDA and consumers.

“CHPA and ODSP are aligned in our mission: to ensure consumers have access to safe, high quality dietary supplements. We look forward to our continued partnership as we work together to modernize the regulatory framework for dietary supplements. With permanent leadership and a fully staffed ODSP, we anticipate FDA will be able to more proactively regulate the dietary supplements industry.”

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