NMA: Nonprescription Medicines Academy

Quick Takes

August 22nd, 2013

  • The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements has launched the Dietary Supplement Label Database, a searchable compendium of ingredient listings for about 17,000 dietary supplements. The database is hosted free of charge by the National Institutes of Health and available at www.dsld.nlm.nih.gov. A companion consumer-directed app—My Dietary Supplements (MyDS)—is intended as an easy way to keep track of vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other products used, as well as a source of science-based, reliable information about dietary supplements. The app is available at https://myds.nih.gov.
  • U.S. News & World Report has teamed with Pharmacy Times to present “Top Recommended Health Products,” available on the U.S. News website at http://health.usnews.com/health-products. The site lists brand-name products that received at least 1% of pharmacists’ votes in the annual Pharmacy Times “OTC Guide” survey. Products that garnered the most votes in each of 148 categories are designated as the “No. 1 Pharmacist Recommended” pick.
  • Approximately 13 million illnesses and more than 110,00 hospitalizations in the United States may have been averted by the flu vaccine over the last 6 years, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculations published in the open access journal PLOS ONE. The largest number of averted cases occurred during the most recent period studied (2010-2011), when 5 million influenza illnesses, 2.1 million medical visits, and 40,400 hospitalizations were prevented by vaccination. This period reflects the post-pandemic expansion of vaccination coverage. The United States currently is the only country with universal influenza vaccine recommendations for everyone 6 months of age or older. (The complete article is available at http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0066312.)
  • The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) has adopted voluntary labeling guidelines for caffeine-containing dietary supplements. The guidelines stipulate that products (1) disclose total caffeine content (mg/serving), (2) include special label statements if the product contains more than 100 mg caffeine per serving (e.g., not intended for children less than 18 years of age or for caffeine-sensitive individuals; pregnant or nursing women should talk to a healthcare professional before use), and (3) not be marketed, advertised, or promoted in combination with alcohol. A full description of the guidelines is available at http://chpa-info.org/scienceregulatory/Voluntary_Codes.aspx#dscaffeine.
  • In an analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Emerging Infections Program—a longitudinal, population-based, surveillance program across 32 counties in 8 states—patients who devleoped community-associated Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) without antibiotic exposure had a trend toward having received proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) more frequently than patients with antibiotic exposure. However, reducing unnecessary PPI use by patients who have not received recent antibiotics likely would prevent only 11.2% of community-associated CDI. (JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173:1359-67.)
  • Supplementation with calcium and vitamin D may help to prevent hip fractures in women taking postmenopausal hormone therapy, based on new data from Women’s Health Initiative participants 50 to 79 years of age. In that study, a total of 16,089 participants received both hormone therapy or placebo and calcium/vitamin D supplements or placebo for a mean follow-up of 7.2 years. Calcium/vitamin D supplementation reduced the risk of fracture among women who received hormone therapy, but not among women who received placebo (HR, 0.59 vs 1.20; P = 0.01). (Menopause. 2013 Jun 24. [Epub ahead of print])
  • In two independent cohorts of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam, vitamin D deficiency (25-hydroxyvitamin D level <20 ng/mL) was associated with functional limitations cross-sectionally and longitudinally in both a younger cohort (725 men and women 55 to 65 years of age) and an older cohort (1,237 men and women 65 years of age or older). In the older cohort, vitamin D deficiency was associated with an increase in limitations at 3 years (OR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.1–3.5), whereas vitamin D deficiency in the younger cohort was associated with an increase in limitations at 6 years (OR, 3.3; 95% CI, 1.1–10.1). (J Clin Endcrinol Metab. 2013 Jul 17. [Epub ahead of print])
  • An analysis of 1,477 transcribed audio-recorded office visits to 102 primary care providers revealed that providers discussed 738 dietary supplements during encounters with 357 patients (24.2% of all encounters in the data). The discussions mentioned: (1) reason for taking the supplement for 46.5% of dietary supplements; (2) how to take the supplement for 28.2%; (3) potential risks for 17.3%; (4) supplement effectiveness for 16.7%; and (5) supplement cost or affordability for 4.2%. The authors concluded that more discussion might be needed to inform patient decisions about supplement use. (Patient Educ Couns. 2013 Jun;91:287-94.)
  • The first aid kit is 125 years old! Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc., pioneered the first commercial First Aid Kits in 1888, to help railroad workers care for the wounds and injuries they received from laying railroad track.