It’s a fact often repeated: Heart disease is still the leading killer in the United States. The good news is that there are drugs and natural aids that can help consumers fight some of the mechanisms of heart disease, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
As dietary supplement companies reported their financial results this year, they seemed to confirm that despite a down economy, things are looking up. This year kicked off with increased business for many—not all, but many—signaling either recovery from 2009, or growing business that had never dropped off, even during the recession. (Read some positive reports in the sidebar.)
While writing this issue's State of the Industry report, I recalled the parting line of my editor's page in our November/December issue last year: "Looks like we're headed into an action-packed 2010." And indeed, the dietary supplements industry has certainly seen its share of activity so far this year, positive and negative—from (for some) increasing sales and innovation to tighter regulations and media scrutiny.
Talking to representatives from The Elizabeth Companies, a leading manufacturer of tablet presses and other equipment vital to the nutraceutical and pharmaceutical industries, it's clear that today's nutraceutical companies are demanding far more from their equipment.
With talk heightened over America's obesity problem and proposals to tax sugary drinks, opportunities are ripe for stevia, the all-natural, zero-calorie sweetener extracted from the plant Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni.
Counterfeiting and other forms of adulteration periodically strike dietary supplements, just as they do pharmaceuticals. In February, a Roanoke Rapids, NC, newspaper reported that police had arrested a man found transporting counterfeit Centrum vitamins.
FDA has been faced with evaluating and regulating an increasing range of health-related product claims from food and supplement companies. Does the agency have the tools to judge whether proposed claims are valid?
On December 29 of last year, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) announced the publication of a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-sponsored study claiming that Ginkgo biloba extract does not appear to slow the rate of cognitive decline. The announcement, made during what is typically a slow news week, became a headliner.
Reader's Digest's April issue ran a story that rankled many, not only in the dietary supplements community but the general public at large, judging by the article's feedback. The cover story, titled "The Vitamin Scam," went on to put down a number of well-researched vitamins, such as multivitamins and vitamin C, essentially claiming that for most people, taking these supplements is not really beneficial.
Nearly 38% of American adults and 12% of children use some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), according to the latest statistics by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. It's good to see, then, that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that President Obama signed into law on March 23 did not leave out this important category of medicine.