HEALTH

FDA endorses industry iniative to update children’s cough-cold product labeling

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCKVILLE, Md The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday issued a consumer update regarding the use of cough/cold products in children that reinforces the agency’s support of an industry initiative that changes label recommendations on pediatric cough/cold products to no longer recommend use in children under the age of four, and explains the reasoning behind why the agency hasn’t requested an immediate product recall of current labeling.

“The voluntary actions announced by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association are intended to help prevent and reduce the misuse of these products in children and to better inform consumers about their safe and effective use,” the agency stated. “CHPA’s voluntary actions will not affect the availability of the medicines, but will result in a transition period where the instructions for using some OTC cough and cold medicines in children will be different from others. Some product instructions will state ‘do not use’ in children under 4 years of age, while others will instruct not to use in children under 2 years of age. FDA does not typically request that OTC products with previous labeling be removed from the shelves during a voluntary label change such as this one. The agency recommends following the dosage instructions and warnings on the label that accompanies the medication if you have or buy a product that does not have the voluntarily modified labeling.”

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Food allergies, digestive problems increasing in young people, report says

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA The number of young people who had a food or digestive allergy increased 18 percent between 1997 and 2007, according to a new report issued Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2007, approximately 3 million U.S. children and teenagers under age 18—or nearly 4 percent of that age group—were reported to have a food or digestive allergy in the previous 12 months, compared to just over 2.3 million (3.3 percent) in 1997.

The report found that eight types of food account for 90 percent of all food allergies: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat. Reactions to these foods by an allergic person can range from a tingling sensation around the mouth and lips, to hives and even death, depending on the severity of the reaction.

Children with food allergy are two to four times more likely to have other related conditions such as asthma and other allergies, compared to children without food allergies, the report said.

The mechanisms by which a person develops an allergy to specific foods are largely unknown. Food allergy is more prevalent in children than adults. Most affected children will outgrow food allergies, although food allergy can be a lifelong concern.

The findings are published in a new data brief, “Food Allergy Among U.S. Children: Trends in Prevalence and Hospitalizations.” The data are from the National Health Interview Survey and the National Hospital Discharge Survey, both conducted by CDC?s National Center for Health Statistics.

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Report shows consumer confidence in supplements on the rise

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON Consumer confidence in dietary supplements has remained high this year, with 81 percent of American adults indicating that they are confident in the safety, quality and effectiveness of dietary supplements compared to 80 percent last year, according to a new survey conducted by Ipsos-Public Affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition released Wednesday.

Confidence levels in dietary supplements have been on a gradual rise, with 79 percent of American adults indicating a favorable level of confidence in dietary supplements in 2006. 

According to the results from the 2008 CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements, while confidence in dietary supplements remains steady, the on-line survey showed a slightly lower percentage of adults who label themselves as supplement users, with 64 percent classifying themselves as such.  In 2007 and 2006, 68 percent and 66 percent of Americans identified themselves as supplement users, respectively. 

The survey results also demonstrated a rise in the percentage of supplement consumers who take a variety of supplements regularly—48 percent in 2008, versus 42 percent in 2007 and 34 percent in 2006.

“We’re encouraged both that consumers who take supplements are demonstrating an interest in a wider variety of products and are more committed to a supplement regimen,” Judy Blatman, senior vice president of communications for CRN, said. “The multivitamin remains the cornerstone product for our industry with 82 percent of supplement users taking a multivitamin, but consumers are clearly looking at the benefits of other products too, like fish oil supplements and calcium.”

As many as 85 percent of those surveyed further indicated that they believe vitamin and mineral supplements are safe, the same figure that was reported in 2007; similarly, 72 percent agreed that herbal supplements are safe, with 70 percent reporting that belief last year. 

“The self-regulatory programs that this industry is engaging in, along with emerging science that supports the value of supplements, are vital to the industry’s reputation, and to consumer confidence,” stated Steve Mister, president and chief executive officer, CRN.  “We’re gratified to see that consumer confidence in our industry’s products continues to remain strong.”

The 2008 CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements was conducted Aug. 20 through 25 by Ipsos Public Affairs and funded by CRN. The survey was conducted online and included a national sample of 2,013 adults aged 18 and older from Ipsos’ U.S. online panel. The survey has been conducted annually since 2000, with a migration from telephone to the internet beginning in 2005. 

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