HEALTH

FDA issues rule for products containing nonoxynol 9

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday issued a final rule requiring manufacturers of over-the-counter stand-alone vaginal contraceptive and spermicidal products containing the chemical ingredient nonoxynol 9 include a warning that the chemical N9 does not provide protection against infection from HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) or other sexually transmitted diseases.

“FDA is issuing this final rule to correct misconceptions that the chemical N9 in these widely available stand-alone contraceptive products protects against sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection,” stated Janet Woodcock, FDA’s deputy commissioner for scientific and medical programs, chief medical officer and acting director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Clinical research has shown that N9 provides no protection against sexually transmitted diseases to the woman if her sexual partner is infected with an STD pathogen or HIV.”

In addition, FDA is requiring that the labels warn consumers that the chemical N9 in stand-alone vaginal contraceptives and spermicides can irritate the vagina and rectum, which may increase the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS from an infected partner.

Stand-alone spermicides include gels, foams, films or inserts containing N9 that are used by themselves for contraception.

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NPA highlights difference between steroids and dietary supplements

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON While the sporting nation debates whether the records of accused steroid users Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens should receive an asterisk, the Natural Products Association on Friday looked to apply an asterisk of their own.

Steroids and dietary supplements are mutually exclusive, the association stated. “The idea that athletes were unwittingly ingesting steroids in the dietary supplements they innocently purchased at a health food store has been exposed as the ridiculous notion it always was,” the association noted. “The fact that the performance-enhancing substances purchased in the report needed to be obtained surreptitiously by a third party, typically at a high cost, should have been evidence enough to an athlete that the product was likely to be illegal. Clearly, calling such products ‘dietary supplements’ was an attempt to gain legitimacy and mask their real contents.”

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Year-end sees increased FSA traffic at drugstore.com

BY Michael Johnsen

BELLEVUE, Wash. Drugstore.com on Monday announced that traffic to its online Flexible Spending Account Store is increasing significantly as the end of the year approaches.

“Internet retail is uniquely suited to service FSA Account holders because our online store can carry a much wider selection of eligible items compared to brick-and-mortar stores that are limited by shelf space,” stated David Lonczak, vice president and chief marketing officer, drugstore.com. “Our customers also appreciate the fact that we do the FSA accounting for them, making reimbursements or FSA debit cards a snap as they shop on our site throughout the year or right now when they need to use their FSA dollars or lose them.”

According to drugstore.com, there are an estimated 24 million pre-tax healthcare Flexible Spending Accounts in the United States. Any money left in FSAs at the end of the plan year can’t be rolled over or refunded. So for many FSA account holders it’s “use it or lose it” time.

To promote end-of-year FSA blowouts, this year drugstore.com created bundled recommendations of FSA-eligible items that range in cost from $50 to $75, including:

  • general first aid supplies
  • athlete/outdoorsman supplies
  • baby care essentials
  • suggestions for “Dr. Mom”
  • and medicine cabinet basics

Drugstore.com’s list of most-bought FSA-eligible items include, in ranked order, Prilosec OTC, Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitor Test Sticks, ibuprofen. 200 mg, Band-Aid Sheer, Sheer Adhesive Bandages and Sight Savers Pre-Moistened Lens Cleaning Tissues.

Drugstore.com makes it easier for consumers looking to empty their FSA accounts before year’s end by putting more than 3,000 FSA-approved items in one location online. Drugstore.com also provides FSA-only receipts through the web store that customers may choose to print out at any time of the year to turn in for reimbursement.

The online retailer has also set up a payment program that debits an FSA debit card for FSA eligible purchases and prompts for a second form of payment if a non-FSA eligible item is added to the virtual shopping basket.

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