TEST Foundation: Decentralized Regulation of Health Products
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have the authority to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed.” — FDA, 2017.
We believe that all consumer health products should be reviewed for safety and effectiveness before they are sold. For the past 6 years, we have consistently fought to solve this problem through our own independent scientific testing and reviews of these products. Our unwavering mission is to enable people to make informed decisions about the products that affect their health.
This journey started in 2012 when we launched Labdoor, a leading testing lab and marketplace for accurate information on popular vitamins and supplements. Labdoor sends these products to FDA-registered laboratories for purity and label accuracy testing, and then publishes the results of this testing online for free. Labdoor has now tested over 1,000 products, and our rankings and reviews are a unique resource for millions of people each year who trust our expert guidance to shop for consumer health goods. We have been supported along our journey by our vibrant community, as well as amazing investors and partners like Rock Health, Mark Cuban, Y Combinator, Floodgate, and 25+ more angel investors and venture capitalists.
Today, Labdoor is the dominant source of product testing data within the nutritional health community, working to protect consumers and provide transparency into an industry that performs very little public independent testing.
Yet, we still saw rampant inefficiencies in the space.
Independent Product Testing: A Public Good
Naturally, everyone desires and benefits from transparent independent testing. However, the total cost and labor to build a real-time comprehensive product dataset are large. Additionally, public information must be fact-based, unbiased, and fair. Today, consumers must either take on the risk of unregulated markets, or place their faith in centralized entities like the FDA or certificate authorities.
Even independent testing organizations with missions to serve the public, like Consumer Reports and Labdoor, face tremendous pressure and bear the burden of defending their work. Fraudulent product sellers have concentrated incentives to fight the production of truthful information through lobbying and litigation. Thus, misaligned incentives lead to continued information asymmetry in retail markets, putting consumers at risk of fraud through the sale of counterfeit, adulterated, recalled, and expired goods.
When centralized authorities fail to effectively curate fraudulent products out of the market, all consumers are put at greater risk, exposing a classic tragedy of the commons problem.
Consumers deserve better. Introducing TEST Foundation.
A New Model for Decentralized Regulation of Consumer Products
We are excited to share with you today the launch of TEST Foundation, which will lead development of the TEST protocol and token.
TEST will power a token-curated registry of products that meet quality standards, governed by a decentralized community. The TEST Registry aligns incentives between producers, consumers, and validators and offers a public, global, and decentralized solution to product quality control.
This registry is governed by an application and challenge process, where any TEST token holder can apply for new products to be added to the registry and other TEST holders can challenge these applications. Products that successfully complete their application period without losing a challenge are listed in the TEST Registry. Product challenges are won or lost based on scientific testing performed by TEST-registered laboratories. TEST holders are rewarded for winning challenges, forming the basis for a self-regulatory organization that protects consumers and highlights independently tested products.
TEST enables a public data layer that transparently records and shares testing results. Applications like Labdoor will be built on top of this data, providing additional value to consumers through expert rankings and reviews. Producers, retailers, and regulators can also build applications using TEST to track the quality of consumer products over time.
TEST is building a public good through decentralized regulation of consumer products, thereby increasing transparency, bettering today’s inconsistent standards, and reducing counterparty risk in centralized entities.
If you believe in this vision for better consumer standards and want to support TEST’s work, please join us on our journey.