HEALTH

Study: Higher doses of Vitamin D reduce bone fractures in seniors

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO A meta-analysis published Monday in the “Archives of Internal Medicine” determined that higher doses of vitamin D supplementation, of more than 400 International Units daily, could reduce the number of fractures in seniors by at least 20%.

The meta-analysis was performed on the efficacy of oral supplemental vitamin D in preventing nonvertebral and hip fractures among older individuals, and included 12 double-blind randomized controlled trials for nonvertebral fractures and 8 RCTs for hip fractures comparing oral vitamin D, with or without calcium, with calcium or placebo.

The higher dose reduced nonvertebral fractures in community-dwelling individuals by 29% and institutionalized older individuals by 15%, and its effect was independent of additional calcium supplementation.

KelloggsDRSNhttp://www.centerstoregrowth.com

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GNC reports 2008 financial results

BY Michael Johnsen

PITTSBURGH General Nutrition Centers on Thursday reported revenue of $1.7 billion for the year ended Dec. 31, an increase of 6.7%. Same-store sales improved 2.7% in domestic company-owned stores, the specialty retailer reported.

EBITDA totaled $212.2 million for 2008, up 69.1%.

Revenue across GNC’s manufacturing and wholesale increased 10.8% for the year to $179.4 million.

“The growth in this segment was the result of increased third party sales and additional license fee revenue for Rite Aid’s store-within-a-store openings,” said GNC CFO Michael Nuzzo.

Rite Aid continued to expand its GNC store-within-a-store concept, adding a net 30 stores this quarter, Nuzzo said, bringing the total number of GNC/Rite Aid locations to 1,712, up from 1,358 stores last year.

Rite Aid is planning to open another 200 GNC storefronts this year. “We’ve been in constant touch with them on things as we work through the year, and we’re trying to partner with them, to help them in any way we can,” Joseph Fortunato, GNC CEO, told analysts Thursday. “We’re in discussions on some things right now, and I’m not free to really disclose them. But I think they are fairly firm in that they’re going to try to hold their commitments with us,” he said, responding to an analyst’s question on whether or not Rite Aid had shut down its GNC expansion plans.

At year end, operated 2,774 company-owned stores in the United States and Canada and had 954 domestic franchise locations, in addition to 1,712 Rite-Aid locations and 1,190 international franchise locations for a total of 6,630 locations globally.

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FDA warns consumers about tainted weight-loss products

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration on Friday expanded, for the second time, its nationwide alert to consumers about tainted weight loss products containing undeclared, active pharmaceutical ingredients.

“These tainted weight loss products pose a great risk to public health because they contain undeclared ingredients, and in some cases, contain prescription drugs in amounts that greatly exceed maximum recommended dosages,” stated Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Consumers have no way of knowing that these products contain dangerous drugs that could cause serious consequences to their health.”

As part of the new notification, the FDA has identified additional weight loss products (Herbal Xenicol, Slimbionic and Xsvelten) and new undeclared active pharmaceutical ingredients (fenproporex, fluoxetine, furosemide and cetilistat).

On Dec. 22, 2008, the FDA warned consumers not to purchase or consume 28 different products marketed for weight loss. On Jan. 8, 2009, the FDA expanded the list of tainted weight loss products to include 41 additional tainted products. The latest update brings the total number of products on the FDA’s warning list to 72.

The FDA cautioned that one of the 72 products on the list, JM Fat Reducer Slim Fast, should not be confused with Unilever’s Slim Fast line of meal replacement and related products.

For those products included on the list, the FDA has inspected many of the manufacturers associated with the sale of the illegal products and is currently seeking product recalls. Based on the FDA’s inspections and the companies’ inadequate responses to recall requests, the FDA may take additional enforcement steps, such as issuing warning letters or initiating seizures, injunctions or filing criminal charges.

The FDA advises consumers who have used any products containing these ingredients to stop taking them and consult their health care professional immediately. The FDA also encourages consumers to seek guidance from a health care professional before purchasing weight loss products.

The health risks posed by these products can be very serious and include high blood pressure, seizures, tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), palpitations, heart attack and stroke. Sibutramine, a controlled substance, was found in many of these products at levels much higher than the maximum daily dosage for Meridia, the only FDA-approved drug product containing sibutramine. These higher levels of sibutramine can increase the incidence and severity of these health risks.

Fenproporex, another controlled substance, can cause arrhythmia and possible sudden death.

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