HEALTH

DSC debunks industry misconceptions at briefing

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON The Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus, in cooperation with two trade associations representing the dietary supplement industry — the Natural Products Association and the Council for Responsible Nutrition — held a briefing on Capitol Hill Thursday in an effort to debunk some of the untruths and misconceptions about the dietary supplement industry and its role in Americans’ wellness regimens.

“It’s all about prevention. Prevention is the new mantra among consumers,” suggested guest speaker Patrick Rea, publisher and editorial director of Nutrition Business Journal.

Speaking to an audience of staff members from the House of Representatives and Senate, Rea said that even during tough economic times, consumers turn to dietary supplements as an important part of their immunity and prevention plan.

“Consumers looked at supplements as one way through the recession to help take care of themselves. Health is recession resilient, and the sales over time support this fact,” Rea said.

Rea addressed several “industry myths” –– including the notions that dietary supplements are unnecessary because people get what they need from food, that people really do not want to take supplements, that the pharmaceutical industry will destroy the dietary supplement industry and that the industry is unregulated.

“Our numbers show that somewhere between 60% to 80% of Americans take supplements, and 48% of them consider themselves regular users,” Rea said.

Rea also mentioned the growing acceptance of dietary supplements among conventional health practitioners, and the growing trend among pharmaceutical companies to develop their own versions of products usually sold as supplements.

“In a study of healthcare professionals, 72% of physicians and 89% of nurses are dietary supplement consumers, and 79% of physicians and 82% of nurses recommend dietary supplements to their patients,” Rea noted.

Regarding industry regulation, Rea countered that the supplement industry is one of the more highly regulated industries and that the industry welcomes those regulations. “[For example], a lot of the [dietary supplement] companies are rallying behind the [good manufacturing practices] regulations,” he said. “They want it to be known that they are a GMP-compliant company. And, the Dietary Supplement Health Education Act made claims rules clear and has really helped the industry focus and develop.”

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Active phone prompts spur Rx adherence rates among consumers, CVS reveals

BY Jim Frederick

WOONSOCKET, R.I. Consumers are much more likely to adhere to their prescription medication therapy if given “a clear and active choice” in recorded telephone prompts from their pharmacy, new research into patient compliance from CVS Caremark demonstrated.

 

The company announced Thursday the results of a long-term research project into patient behavior, conducted by its Behavior Change Research Partnership. Those findings, presented at a Pittsburgh Business Group on Health symposium, underline a clear connection between encouraging patients to get their maintenance medications refilled and improved adherence rates.

 

 

“Ongoing research into how behavioral economics impacts healthcare choices found that when consumers are presented with a clear and active choice in a voice-recorded message to select automatic prescription refills, rather than a passive default notification, they are twice as likely to choose the automatic option,” CVS said.

 

 

CVS established the BCRP in March to study how behavioral economics impacts consumer healthcare decisions. The research group also was created “to help the company better understand why some patients stop taking maintenance medications for chronic illnesses,” the company noted.

 

 

The research results were presented by Troyen Brennan, CVS Caremark EVP and chief medical officer. “The preliminary findings show that by making choices clear and by streamlining messages, consumers sign up at twice the rate of those who are passively presented opt-in choices,” Brennan told Pittsburgh business leaders Thursday. “This research will help us develop programs to encourage people to stay on their medications, because nonadherence is costing the healthcare system billions of dollars every year.”

 

 

The BCRP research, titled “Active Choice,” is testing options in four communication channels, CVS said. Those channels include interactive Web sign-ins, in-bound customer calls to care centers, automated outbound telephone calls and direct mail.

 

 

“The testing shows some options offered to consumers today are overlooked because the choices are not readily transparent,” the company said. “Past industry studies show one-quarter of people receiving prescriptions never fill their first prescriptions, and patients with chronic diseases, such as diabetes and coronary artery disease, adhere to their ongoing medication regimen about half of the time.”

 

 

The BCRP panel is led by Punam Anand Keller of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, George Loewenstein of Carnegie Mellon University and Kevin Volpp of University of Pennsylvania’s Medical School and The Wharton School of Business. The presentation in Pittsburgh continued discussion of BCRP research that was first presented at a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention symposium in Atlanta last month.

 

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SDI: Many Americans have received seasonal flu shot

BY Michael Johnsen

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. More than 690,000 Americans already have received this season’s flu vaccine from their doctors, according to SDI’s VaccineTrack data through Sept. 4.

 

VaccineTrack provides syndicated weekly vaccine usage by physicians based on medical office electronic healthcare reimbursement claims data.

 

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced an unprecedented campaign to combat seasonal flu through a universal vaccination strategy. CDC removed many restrictions and currently supports seasonal influenza vaccination for all persons 6 months of age and older based on the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which advises CDC on vaccine issues.

 

 

In the 2010-2011 season, vaccine manufacturers are slated to produce more influenza vaccine than ever before. Shipments of influenza vaccine began weeks ahead of most other seasons in anticipation of rapid and wide-ranging vaccine uptake.

 

 

“These measures taken by the CDC and vaccine manufacturers facilitate public health efforts to make flu vaccines available to all,” stated Andrew Kress, CEO of SDI.

 

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