As Patients Consider New Personalized Treatment Options, Health Care Providers Should Too
BY JAMES DANIELS, CEO, CORTCONTROL LLC
Like everything dynamic, health care treatment is evolving rapidly. And today, more and more consumers are becoming intrigued by an approach to health care called “integrative medicine,” which offers new options—and opportunities—for the improved personalized treatment for patients. This is not something radically new or different. In fact, the premise behind it is about as basic and sensible as ideas come. The thinking is that the best health care solutions might not necessarily be one-dimensional, as in “Take this pill three times a day.” Instead, perhaps it might be a specific combination of drugs and complementary remedies such as diet, exercise, vitamins, and/or FDA certified medical foods.
What Is a Medical Food?
For some, of course, the term “medical food” does not have the familiar ring of “exercise” or “vitamins.” Still unfamiliar even to many doctors and others in health care, these are dietary products developed specifically for the management of diseases and other health conditions. They are not substitutes for drugs and other traditional medical treatments but rather part of this integrative approach to safely and effectively address health issues. Unlike herbs or other “alternative” remedies, medical foods must undergo rigorous scientific testing and then secure an FDA certification before they can even be made available to health care providers.
Doctors, Pharmaceutical Companies Slow to Adapt
While interest in medical foods grows among consumers, however, many doctors and pharmaceutical companies remain resistant to them. In one recent American Hospital Association survey, for example, 44% of respondents listed “physician resistance” as one of the three main barriers to adopting integrative medicine programs that may include medical foods in the mix. Likewise, some pharmaceutical companies have seen medical foods as a threat to their businesses rather than a potential revenue opportunity to capitalize on.
This is a shame because, just as medical foods represent a promising new option for doctors and patients, they represent a major market opportunity for these companies. In fact, Marketdata Enterprises, an independent market research firm, just released a study showing that, this year, medical foods will be a $1.3 billion industry in the U.S. alone. As well as forecasting solid growth for medical foods in the next few years, the study also noted that—if pharmaceutical companies pursued this opportunity more aggressively—this growth could be much higher.
How Can Pharmaceutical Companies Benefit?
- Acknowledge the growing consumer interest in, and become advocates for, personalized treatment.
- View medical foods as enhancements to their product lines and a clear competitive edge.
- License patented, FDA-certified medical foods to manufacture and distribute to their core markets. (Because these foods are already FDA-certified, R&D costs are minimal and time to market is rapid.)
- Manufacture and offer products with substantial profit margins.
- Help physicians and clinics improve their treatment protocols and better differentiate themselves.
Personalized treatment is an idea whose time has come, and medical foods are an integral part of this new paradigm. For doctors who want to provide new options for patients, and for pharmaceutical companies that want to strengthen their competitive edge, responding to this growing consumer demand makes absolute sense.
James Daniels is the CEO of CortControl, which develops and markets GlutrasolTM, a patent-pending medical food for the treatment of such indications as infertility, vaccine enhancement, diabetes, depression, breast cancer, heart disease, sleep disorders, and Alzheimer’s disease.