HEALTH

CHPA: More consumers more aware of APAP overdose concerns

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — New research released Tuesday found that when it comes to treating pain, a growing number of consumers know how to safely use medicines with acetaminophen and to avoid accidental overdose and liver damage. A nationwide consumer survey conducted by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association Educational Foundation, in conjunction with its work on the Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition’s Know Your Dose educational campaign, shows that consumer safe use knowledge and risk awareness has increased over a three year period (2010-2013).

“More than 50 million people use medicines containing acetaminophen each week to relieve pain. We are very encouraged to see more consumers today know how and why to follow the label and dosing directions when taking acetaminophen to ensure safe and appropriate use,” stated Emily Skor, executive director of the CHPA Educational Foundation. “These research findings validate the importance of our ongoing consumer education initiatives. They will continue to serve as a benchmark for educational efforts as we find new ways to engage and educate consumers about the safe use of medicines.”

“Awareness is a critical step toward behavior change. These strides in consumer knowledge about the safe use of pain relievers and acetaminophen specifically are gratifying, and reinforce the need for continued education to ensure that knowledge translates into a reduction in acetaminophen-related liver damage,” added Anne Norman, a family nurse practitioner and associate VP of education at the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. “In my own practice, I’ve seen patients unknowingly take more than one medicine containing acetaminophen at the same time and exceed the recommended daily dose. That’s why ongoing education is so important — via healthcare providers, via pharmacists, via media and other channels. Reaching consumers at key points of relevancy and impact remain important as we continue to work together to drive safe medicine use.”

Acetaminophen is found in more than 600 prescription and over-the-counter pain relievers, fever reducers and sleep aids as well as cough, cold, and allergy medicines. Acetaminophen is safe and effective when used as directed but there is a limit to how much can be taken in one day. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends taking no more than 4,000 mg of acetaminophen in a 24-hour period. Taking more than directed is an overdose and can lead to liver damage. 

Findings from the national survey of 1,000 consumers who have taken a pain reliever in the past 6-12 months show enhanced consumer knowledge and awareness of key medicine safety issues:

  • Label reading: More consumers agree that it is “important to check the label to find out the maximum daily dose” of medicines (increased to 98% in 2013 from 93% in 2010);
  • Following dosing instructions: More consumers agree it is “important not to exceed the dosing directions on the label” of pain relievers (increased to 96% in 2013 from 90% in 2010);
  • Awareness of risk: More consumers understand that “exceeding the recommended daily dose of acetaminophen may lead to liver damage” (increased to 87% in 2013 from 78% in 2010); and
  • Avoidance of “doubling up:” Knowledge that “acetaminophen can be found in many over-the-counter and prescription pain medicines” (increased to 87% from 80% in 2010) andu nderstanding that “it is possible to exceed the maximum daily dose when taking an OTC acetaminophen product at the same time as a prescription pain medicine” (increased to 81% from 76% in 2010).

 

 

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USPSTF: Not enough evidence on taking supplements to prevent cardiovascular disease or cancer

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force on Tuesday posted its final recommendation statement on vitamin, mineral and multivitamin supplements for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer. However, the Task Force concluded there is not enough evidence to determine the effectiveness of taking vitamins and minerals to prevent cardiovascular disease or cancer. 

Many people take vitamins and mineral supplements to improve or maintain overall health. However, this recommendation is limited to use of these vitamins and supplements specifically for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer, USPSTF noted. 

“Cardiovascular disease and cancer have a significant health impact in America, and we all want to find ways to prevent these diseases,” stated Task Force chair Virginia Moyer. “However, we found that there is not enough evidence to determine whether taking single or paired nutrients or a multivitamin helps to prevent cardiovascular disease or cancer.”

Additionally, there are two vitamins that the Task Force recommends against using: beta-carotene and vitamin E. “The evidence shows that there is no benefit to taking vitamin E and that beta-carotene can be harmful because it increases the risk of lung cancer in people who are already at increased risk for the disease,” commented Task Force co-chair Michael LeFevre. “Due to the uncertain benefit of vitamin supplements to prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer, health care professionals should use their best judgment and consider their patient’s health history, values, and preferences when having conversations about nutritional supplements.”

"The report’s conclusion that there is ‘…not enough evidence…’ for recommendations in the areas of cancer and cardiovascular disease should not be considered as a lack of benefit as there is a big difference between lack of research and lack of positive results," cautioned Duffy MacKay, SVP scientific and regulatory affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition. "Even with a current gap in the research, what few studies there were that met the USPSTF criteria pointed to a potential promise for cancer protection," he noted. "We strongly support both the need for more research and the need for the scientific community to come to terms with a rigorous approach to studying nutrition that may not reflect the current model of studying drugs."

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Omron launches Alvita Ultimate Pedometer

BY Michael Johnsen

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Omron Healthcare on Monday launched the Alvita Ultimate Pedometer, which replaces its HJ-112 model. The new pedometer uses Tri-Axis technology to count steps accurately almost anywhere the device is positioned, including the hip, pocket or a purse. It has four activity modes for both regular and aerobic activities, and stores up to seven days of information on the display.

Research shows using a pedometer can increase physical activity and be a great motivational tool to help people reach 10,000 steps a day. The new pedometer is smaller than previous models but features a large easy-to-read screen. 

“Exercise enthusiasts have counted on our Dual-Axis HJ-112 model for 10 years, so we knew we had to make the Alvita the best new pedometer on the market,” stated Jill Person, senior product manager, fitness, Omron Healthcare. “Our goal is to make counting steps easy and enjoyable, which is why the Tri-Axis technology is so fantastic — it keeps track of your movements no matter where it is on your body.”

The Alvita Ultimate Pedometer is available in two colors — blue and light gray — for a suggested retail price of $29.99. 

 

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