HEALTH

Scientists closer to finding cause of IBD with new analyses

BY Michael Johnsen

PHILADELPHIA In the largest, most comprehensive genetic analysis of childhood-onset inflammatory bowel disease, an international research team has identified five new gene regions, including one involved in a biological pathway that helps drive the painful inflammation of the digestive tract that characterizes the disease.

A research team led by Hakon Hakonarson, director of the Center for Applied Genomics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, reported on Sunday that the findings advance the scientific understanding of how IBD develops.

“This is an evolving story of discovering what genes tell us about the disease,” stated Robert Baldassano, a co-first author of the study and director of the Center for Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease at Children’s Hospital. “Pinpointing how specific genes act on biological pathways provides a basis for ultimately personalizing medicine to an individual’s genetic profile.”

The study appeared online Nov. 15 in Nature Genetics.

IBD is a painful, chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, affecting about 2 million children and adults in the United States. Of that number, about half suffer from Crohn’s disease, which can affect any part of the GI tract, and half have ulcerative colitis, which is limited to the large intestine.

Most gene analyses of IBD have focused on adult-onset disease, but the Center for Applied Genomics — one of the world’s largest pediatric genotyping programs — at Children’s Hospital has concentrated on childhood-onset IBD, which tends to be more severe than adult-onset disease. The researchers performed a genome-wide association study on DNA from more than 3,400 children and adolescents with IBD, plus nearly 12,000 genetically matched control subjects, all recruited through international collaborations in North America and Europe.

Some current IBD drugs are monoclonal antibodies that act on another cytokine, called tumor necrosis factor, which contributes to inflammation. Although much research remains to be done, the current study may provide a basis for developing drugs that target the cytokine IL-27’s action, for patients with the disease-causing gene variant.

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NAD recommends Good Living Labs discontinue ad claims

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus on Monday recommended Good Living Labs discontinue certain print and broadcast advertising claims at issue for the company’s “Good Days Positive Mood” formula dietary supplement.

NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined advertising for the Good Day product as a part of NAD’s ongoing monitoring, and in conjunction with an initiative with the Council for Responsible Nutrition designed to expand review of advertising claims for dietary supplements.

NAD requested substantiation for print, Internet and radio advertisements that included claims “to calm and refresh your mind and body, and to help you feel energized and strong – both physically and emotionally.”

In response to NAD’s inquiry, the advertiser submitted review articles and studies on each of the individual ingredients in Good Days.

Following its review of the company’s Web site, NAD found that consumers reading the Web site could take away a message that the “Good Days Positive Mood” formula product, rather than the product’s ingredients, provides the claimed benefits.

Further, NAD noted, the statement directing consumers to “use positive mood formula daily” for the listed symptoms/conditions, reasonably conveys the message that the product has been proven to provide these benefits. NAD recommended the advertiser discontinue the claims at issue.

NAD further found that the limited human research evidence submitted in support of the benefits for two of the ingredients in “Good Days Positive Mood” formula, namely 5-htp and zizyphus jujube, did not provide a reasonable basis for the claims relating to those ingredients, and recommended the claims be discontinued.

Finally, NAD determined that the animal studies submitted were insufficient to support claims for the other ingredients in “Good Days Positive Mood” formula, and recommended those claims be discontinued, as well.

The company, in its advertiser’s statement, said it appreciated the NAD’s consideration of the issues raised in this matter and accepts the NAD’s decision.

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Drugstore.com encourages FSA spending

BY Michael Johnsen

BELLEVUE, Wash. This may be the last plan year that consumers can purchase tax-free nonprescription medicines as part of their flexible spending accounts, an executive from Drugstore.com noted Tuesday, as inclusion of over-the-counter medicines as part of FSAs may become a casualty of the healthcare-reform debate.

As such, Drugstore.com is stepping up its marketing behind its FSA page, home to more than 300 eligible OTCs.

“While Congress debates healthcare reform and whether nonprescription products will continue to be FSA eligible in the coming years, participants can still use their FSA funds for this plan year and take advantage of this important benefit,” stated David Lonczak, VP and chief marketing officer for Drugstore.com. “Regardless of the future of FSA accounts, Drugstore.com will always be a reliable source for value-minded consumers to fulfill their healthcare needs.”

The Drugstore.com FSA store helps streamline the process by managing the required financial substantiation for consumers. All FSA debit cards are accepted, and customers who need receipts for reimbursement may print out an FSA-only receipt for any time period simply by logging into their online account.

Most FSA plans require account holders to use all of their healthcare dollars by the end of the calendar year, though some plans routinely have extended that deadline through March 15 in the past few years.

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