HEALTH

CRN challenges folic acid/lung cancer link

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK For all the good that associations like the Council for Responsible Nutrition and the Natural Products Association have done in rooting any discussion around supplements in sound science, there always seems to be these somewhat faulty meta-analyses that serve as an undercurrent to that sound science.

 

There have been numerous studies supporting the use of folic acid in the prevention of certain birth defects. There also have been numerous studies establishing a link between smoking and lung cancer. So it’s not necessarily reasonable to draw the conclusion that folic acid may increase lung cancer risk without excluding known lung-cancer risks from that analysis. It may even border on irresponsible, in effect scaring mongering consumers away from a supplement that may, in fact, be a benefit.

 

Make no mistake, the people at CRN and NPA are very much into vetting the supplement industry as a responsible group interested in marketing products that improve America’s health through science. Both groups actively have worked toward implementing supplement-specific Good Manufacturing Practices and including supplements, along with over-the-counter medicines, in the FDA mandate on serious adverse event reports.

So it would be reasonable to conclude, that if there were a possible scientifically proven link between any dietary supplement and an increased health risk, groups like CRN and NPA would support appropriate actions to curb those risks.

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Save Flexible Spending Plans lobbying FSA reform

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON A lobbying group representing employers and insurance companies on Thursday issued a statement criticizing the Senate healthcare-reform bill for including a provision that would discontinue coverage of over-the-counter medicines through flexible spending accounts.

“It is disappointing that the Senate is determined to fund healthcare reform by restricting access to flexible spending accounts, a valuable benefit relied upon by more than 35 million Americans to help hold down healthcare costs,” stated Joe Jackson, chairman of Save Flexible Spending Plans and CEO of benefits provider WageWorks. “Severely curtailing the use of FSAs will not only force participants to pay more in healthcare costs, it flies in the face of President [Barack] Obama’s pledge to not raise taxes on the middle class.”

According to the group, most FSA participants are middle income, earning approximately $55,000 annually. Individuals and families with chronic illnesses typically receive the most benefit from FSAs, incurring annual out-of-pocket expenses averaging $4,398 per year, the group claimed, citing the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found. Approximately 44% of Americans have one or more chronic conditions, SFSP stated.

SFSP is lobbying for more than just reinstatement of OTCs as part of FSAs, the group is also calling for an increase of the $2,500 cap on FSA contributions. “Failing to adjust the cap for inflation will cause the value of a $2,500 FSA to plummet to less than half that amount within a decade,” the association stated.

Save Flexible Spending Plans is a national grassroots advocacy organization that protects against the restricted use of flexible spending accounts in healthcare reform efforts. The campaign is sponsored by the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation a nonprofit organization dedicated to the maintenance and expansion of private employee benefit programs on a tax-advantaged basis.

The organization has two driving missions — first to represent and promote flexible compensation programs through effective lobbying, and second to provide information on flexible compensation programs to national opinion leaders and the general public.

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NADDI cracks down on methamphetamine with new initiative

BY Michael Johnsen

LOUISVILLE, Ky. The National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators on Friday announced a new initiative in the war on methamphetamine: the National Precursor Log Exchange, a multistate electronic tracking program that enforces purchase limitations of the decongestant pseudoephedrine in real time at the point of sale.

NADDI, along with Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, introduced the program here during an early-morning press conference. Joining Kentucky in adopting NPLEx were Illinois and Louisiana.

“Rarely are states able to easily work together to tackle a problem that crosses state lines,” stated Charlie Cichon, director of NADDI. “We believe dozens of states will adopt NPLEx over the next several years, making it more difficult for these common medicines to be used illegally.”

The NPLEx system is being offered as an alternative to introducing legislation requiring a prescription for the sale of PSE. “If states are wanting to make this a prescription drug, we are coming in and saying, ‘Here is a tool [being offered to] law enforcement at no cost.’”

The program is being entirely funded by cough-cold manufacturers and accordingly will be offered to states with critical meth lab problems nationwide at no cost.

“CHPA recognizes that home meth labs are dangerous and toxic for communities, as well as a burden for law enforcement, and is pleased to lend its support to aggressive measures to stop domestic meth production,” the association stated Friday morning. “We believe that electronic tracking is the only solution that allows for real-time, stop sale of these medicines illegally diverted to manufacture meth while maintaining consumer access to safe and effective cold and allergy medicines.”

The technology for NPLEx is based on a system that was developed and tested in Kentucky in 2005, and the program was expanded statewide in Kentucky in late 2007.

NPLEx provides law enforcement agencies across the country with free access to the multi-state electronic log of cold and allergy medicine purchases. The system helps retailers stay in compliance with state and federal laws that place restrictions on these medicines.

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