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CRN defends structure function claims in brief filed to U.S. Department of Justice

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Council for Responsible Nutrition on Monday urged the U.S. District Court in New Jersey to hold the Federal Trade Commission to the flexible “competent and reliable scientific evidence” standard for review of dietary supplement advertising. In a brief filed Friday, CRN addressed a motion by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC, with respect to Bayer Healthcare’s advertising claims for its probiotic supplement Phillips’ Colon Health. 

 
CRN’s brief argues that by requiring multiple randomized, placebo-controlled, and double-blind human clinical trials using the specific product for which the claims are made and are performed in the population at which the claims are directed, the FTC is invoking “a rigid standard for the substantiation of non-disease claims made about dietary supplements that is a significant departure from the current well-established, consistent and flexible federal regulatory regime upon which the entire dietary supplement industry has long relied.”
 
The brief further outlined the negative consequences that would come as a result of the government overreaching its authority, saying the change “would significantly impair the flow of truthful, valuable and scientifically sound information about dietary supplement products and limit consumers’ ability to make fully-informed nutrition-related decisions.” The standard of substantiation proposed by the FTC would impose drug-like requirements on dietary supplements that go far beyond what Congress intended and would effectively apply the medically-based, treatment-focused regulatory framework for drugs to dietary supplements. The evaluation of structure-function claims would essentially be treated the same as disease claims, which is contrary to the intent of the law.
 
“We are concerned that, if successful, FTC’s attempt to impose this legally-unprecedented review of advertising claims for supplements could eliminate many structure-function claims and disregard a wealth of rigorous scientific data that does not meet the narrow drug-like requirements," said Steve Mister, CRN president and CEO. "It would chill the First Amendment rights of manufacturers, marketers and consumers to communicate and to receive truthful information about the health benefits of these products.” 
 
 

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Sam’s Club guarantees low price on flu shots

BY Michael Johnsen

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Sam’s Club on Monday announced that the flu shots for the 2014-15 flu season are now available to Sam’s Club members as well as the public at pharmacy locations nationwide. In an effort to encourage the public to get their seasonal flu shots, Sam’s Club is making vaccinations as affordable as possible by matching the price of any competitor with their low price promise. Accepting walk-ins and appointments, Sam’s Club will be offering the standard three strain trivalent flu shots, four-strain quadrivalent flu shots, or high-dose flu shots specifically designed for seniors 65 years and older.
 
Additionally, to help its small business members prepare for the flu season, Sam’s Club will also be providing in-office flu vaccinations to their employees, administered by a pharmacist, to help maintain a healthy and productive workforce. This service will be available in select locations.
 
“With the flu season approaching us, Sam’s Club wants to provide its communities with easy access and the most cost-efficient way to get vaccinated by offering the best price guaranteed,” said Jill Turner-Mitchael, SVP Sam’s Club health and wellness. “We hope through this offering and our pharmacists’ ability to provide patients with additional information on flu prevention we can help people take the right steps to stay healthy this flu season.” 
 
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Walmart launches in-store program to educate customers on health insurance options

BY Michael Johnsen

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — To bring transparency and simplicity to the changing health insurance market, Walmart announced Monday it is working with DirectHealth.com to launch Healthcare Begins Here, an in-store program designed to educate customers on health insurance options. DirectHealth.com, an online health insurance comparison site which is an independent licensed health insurance agency, will provide a resource that brings Walmart customers access to health insurance information and enrollment support.

“Walmart has long been known for innovation in health and wellness, and we’ll never stop delivering new products and services to the 140 million people who visit our stores each week,” said Labeed Diab, SVP and president, health and wellness, Walmart U.S. “For years, our customers have told us that there is too much complexity when it comes to understanding their health insurance options. Healthcare Begins Here addresses that complexity by bringing clarity and increased choice to the insurance enrollment process through DirectHealth.com.”
 
More than 60% of people have difficulty understanding their health insurance plan options and nearly 40% feel they picked the wrong plan after enrollment, Walmart noted, citing recent research from the Kaiser Family Foundation. 
 
DirectHealth.com also manages relationships with licensed insurance agents, enabling customers to compare coverage options and enroll in the plan that is right for them whether that be a Medicare plan or Public Healthcare Exchange plan through online, phone and in-store services.
 
Since 2005, Walmart has hosted insurance agents from individual insurers in stores to answer questions and enroll customers in specific healthcare plans. Healthcare Begins Here, through DirectHealth.com, takes this offering to the next level in response to customers who wanted more options to choose from.
 
For customers over 65:
 
  • DirectHealth.com offers access to more than 1,700 plans from 12 leading carriers including Aetna, Cigna, Humana, UnitedHealthcare and participating Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies;
  • Customers can compare and enroll in health plans online at DirectHealth.com or over the phone at 888-383-2111;
  • 2,700 Walmart stores will be staffed by independent, licensed health insurance agents from DirectHealth.com that can help customers enroll in certain health insurance plans. Agents can also help provide education and guidance on other insurance options; and
  • Enrollment can take place during the Medicare open enrollment period from Oct. 15, 2014 through Dec. 7, 2014.
 
For customers under 65:
 
  • DirectHealth.com offers access to thousands of Health Exchange plans from more than 300 leading carriers;
  • Customers can compare and enroll in health plans online at DirectHealth.com or over the phone at 888-327-0388;
  • 2,700 Walmart stores will be staffed by independent, licensed agents from DirectHealth.com who can help provide education and guidance about health insurance options; and
  • The Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment period takes place from Nov. 15, 2014 to Feb. 15, 2015.
 

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