Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators, or SARMs, are a class of ingredients that can pose a threat to consumer safety, particularly in the bodybuilding and fitness communities. The Council for Responsible Nutrition, recognizing the safety threat, in February launched a consumer education initiative designed to raise awareness of the segment, whose role as an adulterated supplement segment gives mainstream operators a bad name.
“Bad actors tarnishing the reputation of responsible industry must never be tolerated. CRN and its member companies fully support the FDA’s efforts to crack down on companies unlawfully manufacturing products containing SARMs,” Steve Mister, president and CEO of CRN, said. “We hope that fitness organizations, sports clubs, personal trainers and coaches across the country will join CRN and its members in taking a stand against SARMs.”
Through its consumer education initiative, CRN said it wants to amplify recent warnings from the Food and Drug Administration and support U.S. Anti-Doping Agency efforts to alert athletes to the dangers of SARMs, which include increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke and liver damage. To inform the bodybuilding and fitness communities, CRN created a #SARMsCanHarm toolkit for fitness organizations that includes customizable flyers, newsletter material and social media content.
“We are grateful for the organizations helping us deliver responsible industry’s firm message: SARMs are dangerous, illegal and have no place in dietary supplements or in any sports nutrition regimen,” Mister said.
SARMs are prohibited under the S1 Anabolic Agent category of the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List. They often are listed “ostarine” or “andarine” ingredients in adulterated products falsely labeled as dietary supplements.
Fueling consumers’ gains
CRN webinar encourages sports nutrition stewardship
The sports nutrition segment represents a significant opportunity for retailers, with SPINS reporting that protein supplements alone accounted for almost $4 billion in mass retail and specialty outlet sales last year — but is it worth the potential headache?
By and large, consumers shopping the sports nutrition category represent an aspirational shopper who is committed to getting fit and also willing to spend the money to accomplish those goals over a condensed time frame. But on the other hand, the segment’s profit-boosting SKUs can turn into a product liability mindset in the hands of a shopper with an “if-two-is-good-four-is-better” mindset.
Recognizing the double-edged sword of the segment, the Council for Responsible Nutrition recently hosted a webinar aimed at helping better navigate the space.
“Sports nutrition consumers are uniquely committed to improving performance, looking better or recovering faster,” Duffy MacKay, CRN’s senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, said during the webinar. “Dietary supplements can play an incredibly important role in keeping athletes healthy, active and able to perform.”
Numbers show that consumers recognize the potential benefits of sports nutrition products. A SPINSights report published last year on protein found that as many as 66% of Americans said they were looking to consume “as much protein as possible.” This need has helped feed growth across several sports nutrition segments, including liquid protein and meal replacements.
To take advantage of that consumer need without incurring too much risk, retailers need to vet the sports nutrition companies seeking space on their shelves, CRN’s experts said.
“From a legal perspective, all of the usual concerns that a company would have in the broader dietary supplement industry apply to sports nutrition,” Rick Collins, a founding attorney of the Collins Gann McCloskey and Barry firm, said. “There needs to be a manufacturing agreement in place that deals with issues of loss, contamination and indemnification. There needs to be insurance for the product, including recall insurance. The same concerns for label compliance under DSHEA and the avoidance of unsubstantiated claims apply.”
Consumers are looking for that additional level of accountability, and there is an emerging traceability trend taking shape across the industry that is akin to the gravitation toward cleaner labels and more transparency.
CRN’s Supplement OWL, an industry-wide dietary supplement product registry, may help retailers identify optimal sports nutrition partners, the webinar said. Manufacturers who have bought into the product registry are able to upload product information and documentation and choose who will have access to that information — down to the retailer or regulator.
At the intersection
Jeff Bennett, CEO of higi, shares how higi’s partnerships, health monitoring stations and a connected healthcare system translate to healthier patients
There are two key trends playing out in health care right now that are simultaneously coming to a head — patients are taking an increasingly hands-on role in their health and pharmacy reimbursements are being tied to outcomes. One company that is operating at the intersection of these trends is higi, whose health monitoring stations delivered 42 million blood pressure screenings last year. Drug Store News caught up with higi CEO Jeff Bennett about how a connected healthcare system can translate to healthier patients.
Drug Store News: How do higi and its retail partners help facilitate better healthcare knowledge?
Jeff Bennett: At higi, our goal is to make it easier for you to be your healthiest. We are a population health enablement company that empowers consumers to better measure, track and act on their health data by first knowing it and then taking the action of sharing it with trusted healthcare providers and pharmacists, so together, they can determine the best action. To date, more than 50 retailers have worked with us and placed 11,000 stations in stores, and we delivered 42 million blood pressure screenings last year. This shows how retailers can be that front door of health care by connecting their customers to healthcare stakeholders through the higi platform.
DSN: Recent data from CVS Health showed that a good portion of women aren’t aware of their heart disease risk. How do your screenings help people understand their risks and what other factors might be impacting their health?
JB: This is an important topic, especially with the new blood pressure guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association. As health care becomes more personalized, health information is likewise going to be personalized to the individual. Helping consumers understand and digest their personal information is critical. Of the 17 million screenings completed on higi stations by women in 2017, 60% had blood pressure readings that were in the hypertensive range with these new guidelines. More importantly, every 90 seconds one woman had a blood pressure reading that was in the range of hypertensive crisis, which highlights the value of convenient and immediate access to a trusted healthcare professional, including pharmacists.
DSN: What are some of the ways that higi and its partners help make pharmacists and stores into a resource for patients beyond the screening?
JB: higi has three key pillars — reach, know, manage. The first step is asking how to get someone to engage and do a screening. But that’s just the first step. Our goal is to make it easier for the consumer — and for the stakeholders trying to reach these individuals — to routinely track their vitals over time for better population health management.
At Wegmans, consumers can securely share their health data from the station with the pharmacist through a secure integration with McKesson. The consumer can sit down at the station, receive a unique code, then walk up to the pharmacist and say ‘I want to share my data with you,’ which allows the pharmacist to review
outcomes and see how that patient is managing their health, along with their adherence information.
By being consumer-centric and inspiring the consumer to connect to their health, these efforts will drive better engagement between the pharmacist, doctor, and the patient. Higher engagement drives better outcomes over time, and we are making that regular touchpoint easier.
DSN: What do you see as the future of connected health, and what will higi’s role be?
JB: We bet on this five years ago, and it’s great when something like CVS Health-Aetna, with its focus on connected health, happens because it validates the investments we’ve made. There is a need in the market for consumers who want a more convenient, cheaper and easier way to connect with healthcare providers and share their data. Through our actionable data and technology integrations, higi is that connective tissue as healthcare systems continue to move toward a value-based system where the retailer can be that front door of health care, making it truly easier for people to be their healthiest.
Jeff Bennett is the CEO of higi.