British study: Swiss echinacea extract helps prevent common cold
AUSTIN, Texas — British researchers have concluded that a Swiss echinacea extract is both safe and effective in helping to prevent symptoms of the common cold, according to a study published in American Botanical Council’s peer-reviewed journal HerbalGram.
Researchers tested 673 healthy people to see if the use of an extract of echinacea root and herb was safe and effective in preventing cold symptoms over a four-month period. The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial used Echinaforce, an alcoholic extract of the leaves (95%) and roots (5%) of organically grown echinacea (Echinacea purpurea).
The results showed that subjects using the Swiss echinacea extract had significantly fewer incidences of cold or flu symptoms — 149 colds, while subjects in the placebo group reported 188 colds.
"It is heartening and refreshing to see such positive conclusions coming from this largest echinacea clinical trial ever published," stated Mark Blumenthal, executive director of the American Botanical Council. "While there have been previous clinical studies producing mixed results on the efficacy of various types of echinacea preparations, used at different dosage levels, and in different types of study design, this highly impressive clinical trial is historic due to its size," he said. "It employed a high-quality, well-researched echinacea product [and] a credible study design, and had enough people to produce statistically significant positive results."
This product is available from all major natural products distributors.
Study: Regular blood glucose monitoring increases medication adherence
MILPITAS, Calif. — Blood glucose monitoring is associated with reduced A1C levels and greater adherence to medication in Type 2 diabetes patients who do not take insulin, according to a study published in the September issue of Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics.
The preliminary study findings were based on a retrospective analysis of health insurance data and was led by Lifescan’s Naunihal Virdi. The results are based on an analysis of 4.5 years of data gathered from 5,172 patients with Type 2 diabetes who were newly treated with noninsulin diabetes medication. Patients who tested their blood glucose showed a greater overall decrease in A1C than those not testing (-1.4 vs. -0.6 A1C percentage points respectively). Overall, higher blood glucose testing frequency was associated with greater decreases in A1C levels. Patients who tested at least once per day had the greatest reductions in A1C levels compared with patients who tested less frequently, or not at all.
This study also found that patients who tested their blood glucose were more likely to take their diabetes medication as prescribed than patients who didn’t test (49.9% vs. 38.2%, respectively). Again, testing frequency was a factor, with 64.1% of patients who tested at least once a day being adherent to their medications compared to less than 50% of those testing less frequently.
“Good glycemic control is key to reducing complications in patients with diabetes,” Virdi said. “For Type 2 patients who don’t take insulin, this study adds to the growing body of evidence that regular self-monitoring of blood sugar may contribute to improved diabetes control, as well as improved compliance in taking medications as prescribed.”
The study findings were based on a retrospective analysis of health insurance data and are considered by the authors as preliminary to other studies that may confirm these findings via a prospective clinical trial. To view the abstract of the study, click here.
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HDMA Factbook: 2011 health product sales reach $294 billion
ARLINGTON, Va. — Healthcare product sales through the nation’s primary healthcare distributors hit a record high of $294 billion in 2011, according to the 2012-2013 HDMA Factbook released Friday. Specifically, pharmaceutical products moved by distributors represent approximately 90% of sales in the United States.
“This year’s Factbook continues to provide valuable metrics on distributor efficiencies,” stated Karen Ribler, EVP and COO of the Center for Healthcare Supply Chain Research. “It shows that healthcare distributors continue to be an essential stakeholder in the supply chain as the pharmaceutical market evolves.”
According to the Factbook, 2011 distributor sales, which increased by nearly 7% since 2010, outpaced the total growth of the pharmaceutical market during the same year. As IMS Health data indicated, pharmaceutical industry sales grew by 4% over 2010 to reach a total of $319.9 billion.
A major reason for this growth is due to the continued introduction of specialty/biotech products into the marketplace, HDMA concluded.
While the majority of traditional distributors’ net sales — 98% — continue to be earned by distributing pharmaceuticals, the ongoing “patent cliff” is still affecting the product mix within these sales figures. Generic pharmaceuticals in particular gained 32% over 2010 to represent 11% of total distributor sales, while branded pharmaceutical sales have decreased by nearly 2% to reach nearly 75% of sales. Sales of prescription specialty products through distributors also fell slightly by 1% to account for 12% of distributors’ sales.
At the warehouse level, individual HDMA-member distribution centers processed an average of 27.2 million products in 2011. This represents more than 390,000 orders placed for healthcare products from an average of 1,100 manufacturers.
The Factbook noted that distributors’ profit margins grew slightly, with net profit after taxes to net sales increasing to 1.2% (from 1.1% in 2010).
Published by the Center for Healthcare Supply Chain Research, the 84th edition of the HDMA Factbook is a comprehensive reference tool based on information gathered from the Healthcare Distribution Management Association’s members. It provides distribution industry performance measures in such areas as market characteristics, finance, operations, information systems and distributor demographics and is produced with support from Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals; RDC-Rochester Drug Cooperative; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA; EXP Pharmaceuticals Corp.; Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals; and Smith Drug Company, Div. J M Smith Corporation.
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