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4 Reasons Why Pharmacists Should Learn More about Medical Foods

 By James Daniels, CEO, CortControl LLC

In an article for the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association,the author, Norman V. Carroll,Ph.D., shared the results of astudy he’d conducted that affirmed what many people in the health care and pharmaceutical industries have long believed. Community pharmacists, the article concluded:

  •  Regularly recommend to physicians that they initiate, discontinue, or change a particular drug therapy
  •  Usually do this to correct clinical problems or to provide patients withless costlyoptions, and
  •  Usually succeed in convincing physicians to follow their suggestions

When it comes the prescription process, pharmacists clearly havegreatinfluence. And, as many pharmacists would agree, along with this influence comes a big responsibility to carefully consider emerging treatment options.

Specifically, why should pharmacists learn more about the medical foods option? Here are four reasons:

1.  It’s critical that they be well informed about all legitimate treatment options now available to patients.

Currently, many people—including many pharmacists—are unclear about what a medical food is. Some might even assume that it’s a catchy new name for a line of health foods, herbal remedies, vitamin supplements, or nutraceuticals. But such assumptions are incorrect. 

According to the 1988 amendments to the FDA’s Orphan Drug Act, however, a medical food is a food “intended for the specific dietary management of a disease or condition for which distinctive nutritional requirements, based on recognized scientific principles, are established by medical evaluation.”

Administered orally, medical foods are dietary products developed specifically for the management of diseases and other health conditions. They are not meant to be substitutes for drugs and other traditional medical treatments. Instead, they are part of an integrative medical strategy that safely and effectively addresses diseases and other conditions. Lastly, they may be used only under the supervision of an MD, nutritionist, or other qualified health care professional.

For more on the FDA’s perspective on medical foods, visit the Medical Foods Guidance Documents and Regulatory Information page on the agency’s website.
 

2.  In many cases, medical foods offer major benefits over other treatment options.

Medical foods offer doctors and other health care providers a valuable treatment option. They do not have the side effects or high price tags the come with many drugs. In fact, for a variety of indications, they can be administered as a first treatment step before drugs, sparing patients (at least initially) both the potential side effects and high costs. And, unlike health-food-store products, medical foods cannot enter the commercial market until they have undergone rigorous scientific testing and the FDA is convinced of their efficacy for the specific indication they are intended to treat.
 

3.  Medical food scan potentially help millions of people.

Already, we have seen mounting scientific evidence that certain medical foods can be quite effective in treating a wide array of conditions and diseases from depression and sleep disorders to breast cancer and early-stage Alzheimer’s. The bottom line for pharmacists—as well as for everyone in the health care and pharmaceuticals industries—is clear: medical foods can potentially help millions. 

4.  Personalized patient treatment can offer clear advantages over traditional protocols.

Current drug development and treatment strategies often target large patient populations as homogeneous groups, without consideration for variations among patients. By offering pharmacists and health care providers an additional treatment option, medical foods offer more opportunity to customize, or “fine-tune,” treatments to the unique needs of specific patients. And, for pharmacists committed to learning about the best solutions to help customers who depend on their knowledge and good sense, isn’t that what it’s all about?

James Daniels is the CEO of CortControl, which develops and markets GlutrasolTM, a patent-pending medical food for the treatment of infertility, vaccine enhancement, diabetes, heart disease, and other indications. You can reach him at: jim@cortcontrol.com

Laura CoxComment