HEALTH

Dietary Supplement Caucus schools Congress on VMS benefits

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — More than 60 Congressional staffers and guests gathered for the 31st Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus briefing last week to learn more about dietary supplement use and nutrient intakes in U.S. adults, as well as ways to improve nutritional habits and access to products that will help them achieve their health and wellness goals.

“The best way to improve dietary intake is diversification, fortification and supplementation,” commented Regan Bailey, associate professor, Department of Nutrition Science, Purdue University, and keynote speaker. “We always recommend food first,” she said. “However, research shows that, overwhelmingly, adults fail to exceed the recommended daily value of any vitamin or mineral from foods alone. For this reason, we must find ways to incorporate these vital nutrients into our diets — and taking a dietary supplement, like a multivitamin, is a great step to take.”

At the briefing, Bailey presented research on dietary supplement usage across the spectrum of specific American populations. She noted that adults who use dietary supplements differ from those who do not in a number of ways, including age, gender, race and socioeconomic status.

“A clear pattern that always emerges in almost every cohort that I have ever seen is that the use of dietary supplements increases with the amount of money a person or family has,” Bailey said. “Many Americans live in communities that lack accessible, affordable healthy food options. By increasing access to dietary supplements among those most at risk for micronutrient deficiency, especially those of lower socioeconomic status, we can ensure all Americans are getting the nutrients they need to live healthier lives.”

Bailey’s presentation dovetailed with legislation recently introduced in Congress, the SNAP Vitamin and Mineral Improvement Act (HR 3841), which allows for the inclusion of a multivitamin under Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. Dietary supplements such as the multivitamin are useful in providing nutrients that otherwise may be consumed in less-than-recommended amounts, and HR 3841 would empower SNAP recipients to make the choice to purchase the dietary supplements they need to live healthier, more nutrient-rich lives.

The educational event was sponsored by the bipartisan, bicameral Dietary Supplement Caucus with help from trade associations representing the dietary supplement industry — the American Herbal Products Association, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, the Natural Products Association and the United Natural Products Alliance.

 

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GSK Consumer Healthcare deploys Thinfilm smart shelf tags with Flonase

BY Michael Johnsen

OSLO, Norway — Thinfilm Electronics on Tuesday announced GSK Consumer Healthcare has commercially deployed Thinfilm’s SpeedTap tags to create interactive ‘smart’ shelves for enhanced communication with consumers at time of purchase decision-making in Canada.

“Connecting directly with consumers to provide unique and meaningful experiences is critical in today’s market,” stated Sriman Banerjee, director R&D respiratory packaging for GSK Consumer Healthcare. “We believe an innovative mobile technology like Thinfilm’s can play a critical role in strengthening customer relationships, building brand loyalty and driving revenue for the Flonase brand.”

GSK Consumer Healthcare introduced interactive ‘smart’ Flonase shelves in retail stores across Canada in an effort to educate consumers about the new product and guide them in their purchasing decision. Thinfilm’s unique SpeedTap tags incorporated into shelving allows consumers to obtain product information through the tap of an NFC-enabled smartphone.

In addition to SpeedTap tags, GSK Consumer Healthcare also is using Thinfilm’s software platform, CNECT, as part of the end-to-end solution that helps dynamically manage the experience of Flonase consumers. The cloud-based platform integrates with the NFC hardware, enabling GlaxoSmithKline to manage tags remotely, deliver custom messaging and content, view real-time consumer tapping activity and develop valuable consumer insights through built-in analytics functionality.

Flonase Allergy Relief is the first ‘prescription to over-the-counter’ intranasal corticosteroid spray from GSK Consumer Healthcare indicated for relief of nasal and eye-related allergy symptoms as well as management of sinus pain and pressure. It is an effective medicine that relieves seasonal and year-round allergy symptoms caused by pollen, mold, dust and pets.

“Bringing Thinfilm’s NFC solutions to a valued product like Flonase is a milestone in the industry, and we look forward to helping [GSK Consumer Healthcare] drive the brand’s value by connecting directly with consumers at the time of purchase decision-making,” commented Davor Sutija, CEO Thinfilm.

 

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Carrot gains FDA approval for new OTC smoking cessation tool

BY Michael Johnsen

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. — Carrot on Monday announced that its Carbon Monoxide Breath Sensor System has been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for over-the-counter commercial use in smoking cessation programs.

“Smoking is the No. 1 cause of preventable illness and death worldwide,” stated David Utley, CEO of Carrot, a digital health company with a mission to engage and empower millions of people to quit smoking. “While there has been a torrent of wearable tech to facilitate behavior change in fitness, weight loss and other targets, there’s been no such innovation to help people quit smoking. So, we’ve designed a home-use mobile breath sensor device to help people who smoke cigarettes learn about their smoking behavior, and to use this information to help them in smoking cessation programs.”

The Bluetooth-enabled mobile device, which pairs to a breath sensor application on a smartphone, measures carbon monoxide in exhaled breath to inform the user about how breath carbon monoxide levels are affected by smoking behavior. As with fitness wearables for tracking metrics like steps and sleep, the breath sensor enables a user to track the real-time effects of their smoking behavior.

Carrot’s announcement of FDA 510(k) clearance of its OTC breath sensor coincides with the launch of Pivot, Carrot’s new smoking cessation program, delivered as a mobile medical application via a smartphone. Pivot, which offers evidence-based motivational, educational and coaching tools, will initially be offered through self-insured U.S. employers to promote healthy workplaces and to reduce lost productivity and excess healthcare costs associated with smoking.

“Despite the fact that 70% of smokers say they want to quit, less than 7% of eligible smokers sign up for workplace cessation programs – even when they’re free,” commented Heather Patrick, VP behavioral science at Carrot. “Part of the reason for that is that most programs start with setting a quit date, then go straight to creating a quit plan. That’s intimidating. So, Pivot has entirely reimagined smoking cessation, first by designing a program that is for all smokers, not just those ready to quit. And, second, by delivering evidence-based behavioral science strategies directly to the participant via their smartphone. Pivot is designed to appeal to and help smokers no matter where they are in their quit journey.”

Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the U.S., where 40 million people smoke and nearly 500,000 die every year from smoking-related illness. Smoking is an enormous drag on the U.S. economy, with more than $300 billion in related healthcare costs and lost productivity annually.

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