Fish oils again under the spotlight

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As reported in our newly published Q2 2019 update, herbal & natural supplements are performing well, up 4.4% globally, thanks to a revival in sales in North America that is partly powered by a return to growth for fish oils & omega-3. This well-developed OTC subcategory generates close to US$2bn in global sales, and after two years of decline in 2015 and 2016, turnover has been rising slowly but surely in recent years. An article that appeared in the New York Times over the weekend, however, entitled Should I Take Fish Oil?, has the potential to halt these gains.

Describing the results of omega-3 studies so far as “inconclusive and inconsistent”, the article calls for further large-scale scientific trials, such as the recent VITAL study, which found that omega-3 supplements didn’t reduce the risk of major cardiac events in a usual-risk population, but did reduce the risk in a subset of people with low fish intake by 19%. The article also pointed to environmental concerns about the fish reduction industry, advocating for vegan and algae-based omega-3 supplements instead.

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The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) and other industry bodies, like the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3 (GOED), are obviously concerned about this article and its ramifications for the fish oils market. One thing worth emphasising about the article is that it doesn’t discount the importance of omega-3 fatty acids as essential nutrients and it doesn’t change the current recommendations by authoritative sources who support intake of omega-3 fatty acids for maintaining overall health.

According to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, people should aim to consume eight or more ounces of seafood per week, especially fatty fish, however the reality is that the majority of people don’t manage to achieve this through their diet. For many consumers, especially those with a low fish intake, taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements remains the most prudent choice to ensure the adequate levels needed for good health.

Only two weeks to go until Nicholas Hall’s OTC.NewDirections Executive Conferencetaking place in London on 14 November 2019! Nicholas will be joined by experts from companies including Bayer, Mundipharma and J&J to review key issues impacting our industry and ensure that you are Keeping Consumers in the Spotlight. Unable to join us? Watch Nicholas’ opening address live on the day here at 09:05 on 14 November. To experience the event in full, you can book your place or find out more by contacting jennifer.odonnell@NicholasHall.com without delay.

Belfast scientists say aspirin could reverse tooth decay

Aspirin has long been prized for its painkilling properties, while low-dose aspirin is a popular systemic cardiovascular treatment, but new research shows that it could also reverse tooth decay.

According to a BBC report, the effects of tooth decay could potentially be reversed by the use of aspirin and lead to fewer fillings being needed in the future, researchers in Belfast have said. Tooth decay, the most common dental disease, leads to the inflammation of the tooth nerve, causing toothache.

Initial research at Queen’s University found aspirin stimulates stem cells in teeth, enhancing tooth regeneration. Current treatment for tooth decay involves fillings, which may need to be replaced many times during the lifetime of the tooth.

The British Dental Association reported in 2016 that 72% of 15-year-olds in Northern Ireland have dental decay. That figure compared to 44% in England and 63% in Wales.

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Teeth naturally have limited regenerative abilities. They can produce a thin band of dentine, the layer just below the enamel, if the inner dental pulp becomes exposed, but this cannot repair a large cavity.

The research findings, to be presented later this week at the British Society for Oral and Dental Research annual conference, show that aspirin can enhance the function of those stem cells, thus helping self-repair by regenerating lost tooth structure.

The researchers collated large amounts of previous research data to identify aspirin as a compound that can induce the gene signature needed to generate new dentine.

 

Ice Bucket Challenge Creates Medical Breakthrough

Holly Parmenter, Digital Projects Executive: Back in 2014, the charitable craze of dosing one another in ice-cold water (better known as The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge) went viral. This was all in aid of raising awareness and research funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The incurable progressive neurodegenerative disease predominantly affects the brain and spinal cord, resulting in entire paralysis. Physicist Stephen Hawkins is a well-known sufferer and helped raise awareness during the ALS Challenge as his children gallantly participated on his behalf.

Though seemingly buried deep within the vast world of social media, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has resurfaced; not with ice but with results. The Ice Bucket Challenge raised $115m (£87.7m), which funded six research projects.

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One of these was Project MinE, an extensive study involving more than 80 researchers in 11 different countries. This study examined ALS risk genes in families affected by the disease and, thanks to the funding for research raised by the Ice Bucket Challenge, an important scientific discovery was made – the identification a new gene that contributes to the disease, NEK1.

The identification of gene NEK1 means scientists can now develop a gene therapy to treat it. Although only 10% of ALS patients have the inherited form, researchers believe that genetics contribute to a much larger percentage of cases.

OTCs in Action Episode 12: Science uncovering life-extending benefits

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OTC.Newsflash reported that the global community is living longer – by about 6 years to 71.5 in 2013 compared to 1990’s life expectancy. The Global Burden of Disease Study 2013, published in The Lancet, indicates that improvements in healthcare have prompted dramatic shifts, including a major reduction in child mortality from diarrhoea and lower respiratory infections. However, death rates from many types of cancer, as well as lifestyle-influenced, chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, have increased.

Can OTCs be part of the solution? In the past year, Nicholas Hall’s OTC.NewDirections has kept us up to date on the OTC scientific developments that are a significant factor in the preventive and therapeutic advances that are extending lives. In the most recent issue, we read about how vitamin E can protect older mice from pneumonia, creatine may improve blood pressure, selenium might lower the risk of colorectal cancer and NSAIDs might reduce the risk of skin cancer.

Because of their safety profile, accessibility and affordability, the importance of OTCs is often understated – they don’t often grab the headlines in mass media or corporate financial reports. But to families around the globe, OTCs are in Action improving lives everyday by treating acute illnesses, and increasingly, preventing chronic disease.

Best wishes for a healthy New Year!

OTC.Newsflash and OTC.NewDirections e-mail bulletins are published weekly by Nicholas Hall & Company.

 

 

 

 

October OTC.NewDirections Editor Comment

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Now two years since the FDA issued its draft guidance on the regulation of mobile medical apps, the agency has now published its long-awaited final guidance. Marketers will be relieved that the FDA has said it will only focus on the small proportion of apps that function like medical devices, such as those that turn smartphones into blood glucose monitors or electrocardiography machines, rather than all healthcare apps. Innovators in the field will appreciate the clarity that this guidance brings and the fact that the FDA will not require clinical trials for new apps that resemble medical devices already on the market.

In the latest edition of OTC.NewDirections, we reveal more on this story and provide a round-up of various other developments affecting medical devices over the past fortnight. These include new EU measures on medical devices in the wake of the breast implant scandal that broke in 2010, as well as an FDA ruling on unique device identification (UDI) systems and the agency’s effort to boost development of medical devices for children by awarding various grants.

Our latest edition also features expert commentary from our partners JensonR+ on a wide range of topics from restrictions on analgesics in Denmark, to homeopathy claims in the UK and classification changes for glucosamine in Finland. For more on these stories, and the latest scientific findings on supplements, make sure you subscribe to the bulletin.