Supplement industry experts gather to educate Congress on related issues
NEW YORK It is critical that the dietary supplement industry extol the benefit and value associated with supplementing for health and wellness, especially as today’s legislators determine what health care will look like tomorrow, and how patients will be incentivized into being more proactive around the pursuit of preventative health behaviors.
But just as important in today’s regulatory climate is defending the supplement industry as a predominantly responsible industry providing products based on sound science; and an industry that does not include companies that do not resort to the scare tactic du jour, like marketing a supplement “remedy” for the novel H1N1 virus, for example. Indeed, as the Food and Drug Administration steps up its efforts in publicly outing renegade companies purporting to field supplemental cancer “cures,” or that market products containing undeclared prescription drugs as supplements, only fuels the cry of supplement critics for greater legislation, including the need for pre-market approval.
The Council for Responsible Nutrition and the Natural Products Association have helped organize this quarterly mechanism to do just that — educate Congress leaders — through the Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus. In addition to Polis, Congressional co-chairs of the caucus include Reps. Dan Burton, R-Ind., Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Robert Wexler, D-Fla.
That’s not all the industry’s done in the past few years to help clean up its image. For example, the industry’s long-awaited supplement-specific good manufacturing practices have been adopted and will be implemented in totality by this time next year, a measure that ought to ensure ingredient integrity. The industry’s support for the inclusion of dietary supplements in serious adverse event reporting positioned the industry not only as a responsible player in a health-focused arena, but should also serve to underscore the underlying safety of supplements. And the industry’s sponsoring of a third-party review of supplement advertising highlights the use of sound science to support many supplement structure/function claims.
CDC: H1N1 surges on through the spring, possibly summer
ATLANTA The novel H1N1 virus still is proliferating, even this late into the spring, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday during a press conference.
“As the summer is approaching, influenza season has normally ended by now. However, the novel H1N1 influenza transmission continues in the United States,” said Daniel Jernigan, deputy director of the influenza division at the CDC. “There are two areas of the country that continue to see increased numbers of patients in the clinic with influenza-like illness, [and] both of those are in the northeast part of the United States.”
Although, overall, there continues to be influenza activity reported in 17 states.
“The United States will likely continue to see influenza activity through the summer, and at this point, we’re anticipating that we will see the novel H1N1 continue with activity probably all the way into our flu season in the fall and winter,” Jernigan said. “There is a potential for this fall that we might have multiple sub-types circulating,” he added, especially as the novel virus circulates through a typical flu season across the southern hemisphere. “In the past with pandemic strains, [there] has been a replacement [virus],” he said, such as the pandemics in 1918, 1957 and 1968. “But right now, we don’t have enough information to say that there is a replacement occurring. And at this point, we are expecting — at least planning — that there will be multiple sub-types that are circulating at the same time this fall.”
As of Friday, the CDC reported 21,449 confirmed cases throughout the states and United States territories, up some 20.2% from the number of confirmed cases reported last week, including 87 deaths. New York leads the nation with the number of deaths at 24, followed by Texas with 10.
“There are some surveys that indicate that the amount of disease in the areas that are having activity with H1N1 is perhaps around 7% of the population reporting symptoms due to influenza-like illness,” Jernigan reported, so the number of confirmed cases may still be significantly under-representative of the actual number of patients who have contracted the novel H1N1 virus. “The virus continues to impact mostly younger people. So far it is not causing significant illness and death in the elderly like we would see with seasonal influenza. And the symptoms that are being reported are consistent with influenza, [those] being predominantly fever, cough, some shortness of breath, fatigue and chills,” Jernigan said, as well as some vomiting and diarrhea.
In addition, some 81 healthcare professionals also have tested positive for the novel H1N1 virus, so far. The CDC successfully tracked 26 of those professionals prior to May 13, and determined that roughly half of them contracted the virus at their workplace.
“[One] point that’s made in this report is related to the infection control measures that are used to prevent exposure of healthcare personnel to influenza,” commented Mike Bell, associate director for infection control at the CDC. “Probably the single most important thing is that infectious patients be identified at the front door. Whether these patients are coming in through the emergency department or the ambulatory care clinic, identifying them up front is essential so healthcare personnel know that they should be doing the things that we recommend; that consistent application of precautions is important to make sure that there isn’t occupational exposure.”
AAHP responds to report that questions safety of homeopathic remedies
SANTA ROSA, Calif. The American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists on Friday struck back against an Associated Press report published Thursday that questioned the overall safety of homeopathic remedies in the wake of the warning letter issued by the Food and Drug Administration to Matrixx Initiatives earlier in the week around safety concerns of two Zicam products.
“Consumers and healthcare professionals alike should be assured that the FDA’s action in regard to certain Zicam products does not apply to this class of drugs as a whole,” the association stated. “Rather, the FDA’s advisory relates only to the nasal application of a specific zinc product.”
Homeopathic medications are regulated by the FDA and have been used safely in the United States since before the passage of the 1938 federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, the AAHP added. “The FDA’s Compliance Policy Guide … has been an effective and workable way to regulate homeopathic drugs since 1988, and, as shown by the FDA’s action on June 16, it allows the FDA to take action when action is required to protect the public,” the AAHP stated.