Washington, D.C., March 21, 2016—In response to a new study, “Changes in Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medication and Dietary Supplement Use Among Older Adults in the United States, 2005 vs 2011,” a new commentary, “Polypharmacy—Time to Get Beyond Numbers,” and a new letter, “Nondisclosure of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use to Primary Care Physicians: Findings from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey,” published online today in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association for the dietary supplement and functional food industry, issued the following statement:
Statement by Andrea Wong, Ph.D., vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, CRN:
“We urge consumers to speak with their doctors and other healthcare practitioners about everything they consume, including dietary supplements. Dietary supplement use is highest among older populations, according to our research, and so we support the need for techniques to enhance the transparency of what elderly patients are taking, as Dr. Steinman suggests in his commentary.1 Creating a list of everything being taken, including dietary supplements; looking to healthcare practitioners outside of primary care physicians, such as pharmacists and nurses, as partners in health—these are practical solutions, but the onus does not lie with the patient only. Healthcare practitioners have to share the responsibility, too.
Our annual consumer survey on dietary supplements has repeatedly found the vast majority of supplement users agree that they let their physicians know about the supplements they are taking. In our most recent survey, 91 percent of supplement users 55 years of age and older indicated they do so. The new research letter2 from JAMA Internal Medicine indicates that, of the patients who use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), 75 percent reported use of herbals or supplements to their doctor, the highest percentage of disclosure. There appears to be a minority of consumers who do not inform their doctors of their supplement use and, at the same time, there are doctors who are not initiating conversations about supplements or other elements of CAM. CAM is becoming increasingly popular among Americans, who consider what used to be “alternative” now to be a regular part of their integrated health regimen—one that goes beyond an over-reliance on pharmaceuticals. We hope doctors accept this is the new norm and take responsibility to open a dialogue. There should be no barriers between a doctor and a patient.
The new JAMA Internal Medicine study 3 analyzes the changes in prevalence of combined use of prescription drugs, OTCs and dietary supplements, and in doing so, it attempts to predict the potential risk for interaction between certain products in these three categories. The results show that the prevalence of older adults taking a combination of drugs and supplements with a potential for interaction is low, suggesting that the actual risk to consumers is low.
Consumer safety is a top priority for the dietary supplement industry. If consumers purchase supplements from reputable brands and trusted retailers, they can have confidence in the safety of the products. At the same time, there must be an open dialogue taking place in the doctor’s office to ensure the safety and well-being of the consumer."
1. Polypharmacy—Time to Get Beyond Numbers. Steinman M. JAMA Int Med. Published online March 21. 2016.
2. Nondisclosure of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use to Primary Care Physicians: Findings from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey. Jou J, Johnson PJ. JAMA Int Med. Published online March 21, 2016.
3. Changes in Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medication and Dietary Supplement Use Among Older Adults in the United States, 2005 vs 2011. Qato D, Wilder J, Schumm LP, Gillet V, Alexander GC. JAMA Int Med. Published online March 21, 2016.