HEALTH

Dextromethorphan bill passes in House, now awaits Senate consideration

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON Just four weeks after being introduced, the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday approved the Dextromethorphan Distribution Act of 2009, which restricts the sale of bulk, unfinished DXM to those distributors registered with the Food and Drug Administration.

“The deadly reality is that our teens think that it’s safe to get high off of DXM because it is a common ingredient in cough syrup – the passage of the DXM bill in the House is an important step in shattering that myth,” stated Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., who introduced the bill March 3. “This is too important an issue not to get done – kids’ lives literally hang in the balance and I urge the Senate to swiftly follow suit. This commonsense piece of legislation will put an end to the bulk sale of DXM over the Internet, and keep our kids safe from the dangers of this type of drug abuse.”

The bill would make it illegal to distribute unfinished DXM to a person or company not previously registered with the FDA, or registered or licensed clinics, compounding pharmacists, pharmacies and researchers. The measure, which passed the House by a vote of 407 to 8, now awaits consideration in the Senate.

“[Today] the House of Representatives took an important step toward controlling the bulk supply of DXM and we urge the Senate to do the same,” stated Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the nonprofit Partnership for a Drug-Free America. “This legislation will help reduce the abuse of DXM, a dangerous behavior that 2.4 million teens report engaging in during their lifetime. The work of policymakers, combined with the efforts of concerned parents communicating the risks of DXM abuse to their kids, will have a significant positive impact on this issue.”

Linda Suydam, president of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association explained that there is no reason for anyone but “but manufacturers, pharmacists, and researchers to have the raw form of this ingredient.”

“The companies that sell this potent ingredient to kids are unscrupulous online pushers, knowingly providing teens the raw form of DXM as a means to get high,” Suydam said.

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Pollen.com becomes more user-friendly with Web site enhancements

BY Michael Johnsen

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. SDI on Tuesday announced the addition of five features to its Pollen.com allergy site in an effort to improve its ease of use and information available to the allergy-suffering public, including a new user interface, a blog section, improved weather forecasts and updated news content.

Pollen.com also recently released updates to its Yahoo Widgets and Google Gadgets, desktop applications that provide on-demand pollen counts without the need to open a browser.

The new interface for Pollen.com, which makes content easier to read and navigate, was a direct response to user feedback.

“We are fortunate to have engaged users who provide valuable feedback that enables us to focus on improvements that best meet their needs,” stated Glenn Connery, associate director of the application development/web group for SDI. “We receive e-mails every day from regular site visitors telling us their likes and dislikes. About half had asked for a new interface, so we made this a priority.”

To make it even easier to interact with users, SDI has also launched a blog so users can provide comments and suggestions, as well as enable SDI to update users on new site features, new developments and the latest news surrounding Pollen.com.

For improved weather forecasting and up-to-date news information on Pollen.com, SDI reached out to respected industry experts to strengthen site content. Weather forecasts now come directly from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, whose dedicated scientists use cutting-edge research and high-tech instrumentation to provide reliable weather forecasting services. The site’s daily allergy-related news stories come from healthdaynews.com.

Pollen.com’s Yahoo Widgets and Google Gadgets, available as free downloads from PollenWidgets.com, offer pollen indexes directly on users’ desktops without the need to open a browser. Pollen.com developers are currently working to support more operating systems as well as enhance the feature set.

“We’re very excited about the Widgets and Gadgets,” Connery said. “They allow us to provide up-to-date airborne condition information to help our users improve their quality of life each day.”

SDI, the company behind Pollen.com, PollenLibrary.com, and Allergy Alert, developed Pollen.com’s proprietary forecasts and also manufactures Rotorod, a tool for pollen count measurement.

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Poll indicates that majority of parents administer cough-cold medicine to children

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. Parents have not abandoned the pediatric cough/cold category.

A new survey conducted in March 2009 by Harris Interactive found that, while 90% of parents are aware of the safety and efficacy questions that have been raised around kids’ cough-cold medicines, 62% still give these products to children when they are experiencing cough-and-cold symptoms. Additionally, 16% of the general public aren’t dialed into the safety and efficacy debate around OTC cough-and-cold products for children.

The survey found that 70% of consumers overall get their health-related news from media and the Internet — including 73% of parents. Less than half of parents, 41%, reported  that they first heard about OTC cough-cold debate from a doctor.

The Harris Interactive Poll was commissioned by Bionorica, a company marketing a an alternative kids cough-cold medicines with a dietary supplement, Sinupret for Kids, that helps boost a child’s immune system.

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