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CRN launches web-based, members-only tool to help VMS marketers make responsible advertising claims

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — Advertising claims for weight loss supplement products feed the Federal Trade Commission with the highest settlement costs within the dietary supplement and functional food category, according to a new web-based, members-only tool from the Council for Responsible Nutrition. The new online tool, released Tuesday, is a compilation of all available FTC advertising enforcement actions related to dietary supplements and functional foods since 2003, and will be updated quarterly. 
 
According to CRN president and CEO Steve Mister, who testified earlier this year at a Capitol Hill weight loss claims hearing before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance, “There are appropriate and legal ways to market weight loss and other dietary supplement and functional food products, and then there are advertising claims that raise red flags with the FTC. We developed this tool as a service to our member companies so they have a one-stop location to review the kinds of claims that have led to FTC investigations, consent degrees and punitive financial settlements. Companies can study these cases, look at examples of language that put others under FTC scrutiny for enforcement — and then avoid using such language in their own advertising.”
    
CRN’s searchable compilation indicates that the weight loss category generated the highest settlement costs at $438.4 million, with immunity claims next in line with settlements of $47.2 million and impermissible cancer claims at a distant, but relevant, third place, with claims settlements of $5 million. “We’re now also starting to see enforcement trends in anti-aging claims and claims addressing diabetes," Mister said. "The data illustrates how active FTC has been in recent years and should be a warning to all companies that the agency will move aggressively to remove claims that it believes mislead consumers.” 
 
This effort is the latest CRN self-regulatory initiative designed to help companies focus on responsible actions that separate them from those companies that flout the extensive laws and regulations overseeing the dietary supplement and functional food industry. In 2006, CRN provided the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus with a multi-year grant enabling NAD to increase its monitoring of dietary supplement advertising. With the initiative still going strong, CRN developed a free searchable compilation of all dietary supplement advertising decisions issued by NAD since the initiative began.
 
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FDA approves PharmaJet Stratis injector for delivery of Afluria

BY Michael Johnsen

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. — PharmaJet, the developer of a needle-free injection technology to administer medications and vaccines to patients, and bioCSL, the maker of Afluria (influenza vaccine) on Tuesday announced the Food and Drug Administration has approved the PharmaJet Stratis 0.5mL Needle-Free Jet Injector for delivery of Afluria in individuals ages 18 years to 64 years. This is the first needle-free delivery system approved by the FDA for the administration of an inactivated influenza vaccine, the companies reported.
 
“Healthcare providers now have the option of delivering Afluria without a needle,” stated Ron Lowy, PharmaJet CEO and co-chairman. “The PharmaJet injection technology is an especially important innovation for the millions of individuals who suffer from fear of needles and who consequently forego their annual flu vaccination. We believe this is a significant step forward in the effort to improve public health through broader immunization coverage, as well as improved safety of caregivers.”
 
The PharmaJet injector delivers the vaccine by means of a narrow, precise fluid stream that penetrates the skin in about one-tenth of a second. “The importance of being vaccinated yearly against seasonal influenza cannot be overstated,” commented Marie Mazur, president of bioCSL. “PharmaJet’s needle-free technology, when used to administer Afluria, could play a significant role in increasing adult vaccination rates by helping to personalize vaccine delivery.”
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Pharmacy Advantage introduces mobile device application

BY Michael Johnsen

TROY, Mich. — Pharmacy Advantage on Tuesday launched its mobile device application, Pharm Adv, powered by mscripts. This pharmacy solution is intended to improve patient access and convenience in obtaining prescribed medications. Utilization of this program will allow patients to scan/refill prescriptions, receive date shipped notification, be given dosage reminders and access an overview of their medication records.  
 
Non-smartphone users will have an option to receive text messages, alerting them to drug therapy updates/status to avoid being excluded from the benefits this service affords.  
 
“We view mscripts mobile application as an opportunity for patients to take on a more engaged role in their treatment and medication needs,” stated Daniel Kus, VP Pharmacy Advantage Specialty Pharmacy. “Collaborative therapy management and employment of technological resources is the future of healthcare. This program encompasses the best of these two worlds.”
 
The new app Pharm Adv and its website operate on a secure network created by mscripts. 
 
As a result of the combined faculties between McKesson’s EnterpriseRx pharmacy management system and mscripts, Pharmacy Advantage can extend a variety of mobile communication pathways to its customers. The easy-to-use application is available to download through Apple iTunes or the Android Market at no charge.
 
“As a leader in medication therapy management programs, Pharmacy Advantage is uniquely able to influence healthier outcomes for their patients through the use of mobile technology,” said Mark Cullen, CEO of mscripts. “The partnership between clinical support, pharmacy operations and electronic data networks lead to significant improvements in medication adherence resulting in drastically decreased adverse effects/unnecessary hospitalizations in the patient population.”
 
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