HEALTH

CRN arms fitness centers with anti-SARMs message

BY Michael Johnsen

The Council for Responsible Nutrition last week launched a consumer education initiative designed to raise awareness of Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs), a dangerous class of ingredients that poses a serious threat to consumer safety, particularly in the bodybuilding and fitness communities.

“Consumer safety is the No. 1 priority of the dietary supplement industry,” Steve Mister, president and CEO, CRN, said. “We are grateful for the organizations helping us deliver responsible industry’s firm message: SARMs are dangerous, illegal and have no place in dietary supplements or in any sports nutrition regimen. Our goal is to equip consumers with the tools they need to make sound decisions when it comes to dietary supplements and to help them responsibly and judiciously use legitimate sports nutrition supplements to help them succeed in reaching their fitness goals.”

According to the Food and Drug Administration, SARMs are unapproved drugs illegally marketed as dietary supplements. Through its consumer education initiative, CRN amplifies recent warnings from FDA and supports efforts by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to alert athletes to the dangers of SARMs — dangers which could destroy athletic careers and potentially increase the risk of life-threatening conditions such as heart attack, stroke and liver damage.

To inform the bodybuilding and fitness communities, CRN created a #SARMsCanHarm toolkit for fitness organizations that includes customizable flyers, newsletter material, and social media content featuring educational information on SARMs and how athletes can protect themselves from products containing these illicit ingredients.

SARMs are prohibited under the S1 Anabolic Agent category of the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List, and raise serious concerns for FDA, USADA and the legitimate dietary supplement industry. Often listed “ostarine” or “andarine” as ingredients in adulterated products falsely labeled as dietary supplements, SARMs have the potential to be misused for athletic performance enhancement due to their anabolic properties and their ability to stimulate androgen receptors in muscle and bone.

“Every athlete knows the importance of honesty and fairness, and these unscrupulous companies are anything but sportsmanlike. Bad actors tarnishing the reputation of responsible industry must never be tolerated. CRN and its member companies fully support FDA’s efforts to crack down on companies unlawfully manufacturing products containing SARMs,” Mister, said. “We hope that fitness organizations, sports clubs, personal trainers, and coaches across the country will join CRN and its members in taking a stand against SARMs and the risks companies marketing these products unapologetically present consumers.”

Late last year, the American Herbal Products Association, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, the Natural Products Association, the United Natural Products Alliance and USADA shared concerns about SARMs products in support of FDA’s efforts to crack down on companies unlawfully manufacturing products containing these ingredients.

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Fitbit enters health coaching space with Twine Health buy

BY Michael Johnsen

Fitbit on Tuesday announced that it will acquire Twine Health, a HIPAA-compliant connected health platform that delivers a user-friendly experience to help people manage chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, and aid in lifestyle interventions, such as weight loss and smoking cessation, by making it easy for care teams of providers, coaches, friends and family to collaborate on care plans.

“Twine Health has delivered powerful results for patients managing conditions like diabetes and hypertension – two key focus areas for Fitbit,” James Park, Fitbit CEO, said. “When combined with our decade-plus of experience empowering millions of consumers to take control of their health and wellness, we believe we can help build stronger connections between people and their care teams by removing some of the most difficult barriers to behavior change. Together, we can help healthcare providers better support patients beyond the walls of the clinical environment, which can lead to better health outcomes and ultimately, lower medical costs.”

The Twine Health platform brings a scalable approach to health coaching, allowing a single coach to work with a large number of patients, driving efficiencies while helping more people reach their goals.

With this acquisition, Fitbit further extends its reach into healthcare and lays the foundation to expand its offerings to health plans, health systems and self-insured employers, while creating opportunities to increase subscription-based revenue. The acquisition will combine the power of the Fitbit platform to drive lasting behavior change with Twine Health’s clinical expertise and proven ability to help patients better manage their care through a highly scalable platform and coaching model.

In the longer term, Fitbit will have the opportunity to extend the benefits of the Twine platform to its more than 25 million users and expand into new condition areas. Disease management is a significant growth opportunity , especially for retail pharmacy operators. Park late last year noted that Fitbit was focusing on such conditions as diabetes, sleep disorders and mental health in an effort to open up revenue streams outside devices.

“We built Twine Health with the goal of putting people back at the center of their care, helping them take ownership of their health actions and outcomes with the continuous support of both clinicians and loved ones. Technology has a profound opportunity to facilitate this shift in behavior and give people the coaching they need to overcome the challenges that arise in daily life,” John Moore, Twine Health CEO, said. “That potential becomes even more compelling when combined with Fitbit, whose brand and ability to engage and motivate a diverse range of consumers is incredibly powerful. Together, we can build a complete experience to optimize health at scale, across the full spectrum from prevention to disease management.”

As part of the acquisition, the Twine Health team will join Fitbit as part of its Health Solutions group. Moore will serve as Fitbit’s medical director.

The acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018.

 

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A healthy GSK Consumer may not need Pfizer infusion

BY Michael Johnsen

With the release of year-end financials next week from Reckitt Benckiser, the picture on who is still in the running as a potential suitor to Pfizer’s Consumer Healthcare business may come into better focus. Last week, it appeared that the other rumored front-runner GSK Consumer Healthare may be nonchalant to the possibility of a Pfizer Consumer acquisition.

Pfizer’s consumer health division is expected to sell for as much as $20 billion, according to reports.

“I will reiterate what I’ve said previously – first of all, you would expect us to take a serious look at any major assets that come up in the market,” Emma Walmsley, GlaxoSmithKline CEO, told investors when asked about the Pfizer Consumer sale. “This is an attractive business. We are a world leader in consumer healthcare and we have a good track record of integrating businesses effectively, but our first priority remains pharma and both investing in the launches and the execution that we have underway, but also more specifically prioritizing the pipeline within pharma. We will not do anything that cuts across that prioritization.”

So the Pfizer Consumer acquisition is not on the “need-to-do list” Walmsley said.

But Pfizer’s strength in OTC pain relief may be a good fit against the portfolio of GSK Consumer Healthcare, particularly for Voltaren, a prescription-only topical pain reliever that in the past has been speculated as a possible Rx-to-OTC switch candidate. Just this past quarter, GSK Consumer Healthcare launched Voltaren No-Mess launching in Germany, the company’s largest Voltaren market.

“In consumer healthcare, we saw improving sales momentum throughout the year with strong performances in wellness and oral health offsetting the impact of a weak U.S. season and competitive pressures in allergy,” Walmsley said. “Our power brands continue to deliver strong growth above market levels, and this has helped drive margin improvements.”

Specifically, GSK’s consumer division generated $9.6 billion for fiscal 2017, up 2% on a constant exchange rate. GSK Consumer Healthcare’s power brands were all growing at high single digits over the company’s fourth quarter ended, added Brian McNamara, GSK Consumer Healthcare CEO. “We benefited from an earlier and more severe cold and flu season in the U.S., but importantly our Theraflu brand is growing well ahead of the market. We also are seeing share growth back on Flonase in the U.S. as we anniversary the private label entry,” he said. “Overall, I feel really good about the health and momentum in the business.”

 

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