To investigate the rates and causality of adverse event(s) (AE) associated with natural health product (NHP) use, prescription drug use and concurrent NHP-drug use through active surveillance in community pharmacies.
Cross-sectional study of screened patients.
10 community pharmacies across Alberta and British Columbia, Canada from 14 January to 30 July 2011.
The participating pharmacy staff screened consecutive patients, or agents of patients, who were dropping or picking up prescription medications.
Primary outcome measures
Patients were screened to determine the proportions of them using prescription drugs and/or NHPs, as well as their respective AE rates. All AEs reported by the screened patients who took a NHP, consented to, and were available for, a detailed telephone interview (14%) were adjudicated fully to assess for causality.
Over a total of 105 pharmacy weeks and 1118 patients screened, 410 patients reported taking prescription drugs only (36.7%; 95% CI 33.9% to 39.5%), 37 reported taking NHPs only (3.3%; 95% CI 2.4% to 4.5%) and 657 reported taking prescription drugs and NHPs concurrently (58.8%; 95% CI 55.9% to 61.6%). In total, 54 patients reported an AE, representing 1.2% (95% CI 0.51% to 2.9%), 2.7% (95% CI 0.4% to 16.9%) and 7.3% (95% CI 5.6% to 9.6%) of each population, respectively. Compared with patients who reported using prescription drugs, the patients who reported using prescription drugs and NHPs concurrently were 6.4 times more likely to experience an AE (OR; 95% CI 2.52 to 16.17; p<0.001). Combined with data from Ontario, Canada, a national proportion was calculated, which found that 45.4% (95% CI 43.8% to 47.0%) of Canadians who visit community pharmacies take NHPs and prescription drugs concurrently, and of those, 7.4% (95% CI 6.3% to 8.8%) report an AE.
A substantial proportion of community pharmacy patients use prescription drugs and NHPs concurrently; these patients are at a greater risk of experiencing an AE. Active surveillance provides a means of detecting such AEs and collecting high-quality data on which causality assessment can be based.
Complementary Medicine; Toxicology
Reports of regulatory and evidentiary gaps have raised concerns about the marketing and use of natural health products (NHPs). The majority of NHPs offered for sale are purchased at a community pharmacy and pharmacists are “front-line” health professionals involved in the marketing and provision of NHPs. To date, the involvement of pharmacists in pharmacy care involving NHPs and the degree to which concerns over the safety, efficacy, marketing and regulation of NHPs are addressed in pharmacy care in Canada have not been studied.
Using Qualtrics, a web-based data collection and analysis software, and a study instrument made up of fifteen (15) open-ended, closed and rating scale questions, we surveyed the attitudes and practices of 403 community pharmacists in the Canadian province of Alberta regarding NHPs offered for sale in community pharmacies.
The majority of pharmacists surveyed (276; 68%) recommend NHPs to clients sometimes to very often. Vitamin D, calcium, multivitamins, prenatal vitamins, probiotics and fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids were the most frequently recommended NHPs. The most common indications for which NHPs are recommended include bone and musculoskeletal disorders, maintenance of general health, gastrointestinal disorders and pregnancy. Review articles published in the Pharmacist’s Letter and Canadian Pharmacists Journal were the primary basis for recommending NHPs. The majority of pharmacists surveyed (339; 84%) recommend the use of NHPs concurrently with conventional drugs, while a significant number and proportion (125; 31%) recommend alternative use. Pharmacists in the study overwhelmingly reported providing counselling on NHPs to clients based on information obtained mainly from the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database.
The study findings indicate a high prevalence of pharmacy care relating to NHPs among study participants. Although pharmacists’ practices around NHPs are consistent with the existing licensing framework, we found some involvement in problematic practices that necessitate further research and potential policy scrutiny. The study also uncovered patterns of recommendations, including sources relied on in recommending NHPs and in providing counselling to patients, that raise concerns about the quality and credibility of NHP-related care provided to pharmacy patrons.
Natural health products (NHP) use may have implications with respect to adverse effects, drug interactions and adherence yet the prevalence of NHP use by patients with acute cardiovascular disease and the best method to ascertain this information is unknown.
To identify the best method to ascertain information on NHP, and the prevalence of use in a population with acute cardiovascular disease.
Structured interviews were conducted with a convenience sample of consecutive patients admitted with acute cardiovascular disease to the University of Alberta Hospital during January 2009. NHP use was explored using structured and open-ended questions based on Health Canada's definition of NHP. The medical record was reviewed, and documentation of NHP use by physicians, nurses, and pharmacists, compared against the gold-standard structured interview.
88 patients were interviewed (mean age 62 years, standard deviation [SD 14]; 80% male; 41% admitted for acute coronary syndromes). Common co-morbidities included hypertension (59%), diabetes (26%) and renal impairment (19%). NHP use was common (78% of patients) and 75% of NHP users reported daily use. The category of NHP most commonly used was vitamins and minerals (73%) followed by herbal products (20%), traditional medicines including Chinese medicines (9%), homeopathic preparations (1%) and other products including amino acids, essential fatty acids and probiotics (35%). In a multivariable model, only older age was associated with increased NHP use (OR 1.5 per age decile [95%CI 1.03 to 2.2]). When compared to the interview, the highest rate of NHP documentation was the pharmacist history (41%). NHP were documented in 22% of patients by the physician and 19% by the nurse.
NHP use is common in patients admitted with acute cardiovascular disease. However, health professionals do not commonly identify NHP as part of the medication profile despite its potential importance. Structured interview appears to be the best method to accurately identify patient use of NHP.
To determine the experiences of family physicians in Newfoundland and Labrador with parents’ use of natural health products (NHPs) for their children and to assess physicians’ attitudes toward use of NHPs in children.
A survey using the Dillman approach.
Newfoundland and Labrador.
All family physicians in the province.
Main outcome measures
Physician demographic characteristics; whether physicians inquire about the use of NHPs in children; the degree to which they think patients disclose use of NHPs in children; whether they counsel parents about the potential benefits or harms of NHPs; their own opinions about the usefulness of NHPs; whether they recommend NHPs in children and for what reasons; and the particular NHPs they have seen used in children and for what reasons.
A total of 159 (33.1%) family physicians responded; 65.4% were men, 71.7% were Canadian medical graduates, and 46.5% practised in rural areas. Overall, 18.8% of family physicians said they regularly or frequently asked about NHP use; 24.7% counseled patients about potential harms. Only 1.9% of physicians believed NHPs were usually beneficial, but a similarly small number (8.4%) thought they were usually harmful. Most respondents were somewhat neutral; 59.7% said they never recommend NHPs for children, and a further 37.0% said they would only “sometimes” recommend NHPs.
Most physicians believed that NHPs were probably of little benefit but not likely to be harmful. Most NHPs used were vitamins and minerals. Physicians recognized that NHPs were often used by parents for children, but in general they believed NHPs had little effect on their day-to-day medical practices. Thirty-eight (24.7%) of the 154 physicians had at least once recommended an NHP (including vitamins) for their pediatric patients. Physicians believed that parents did not often disclose use of NHPs for their children, but at the same time physicians generally did not actively inquire.
Although many pharmacies sell natural health products (NHPs), there is no clear definition as to the roles and responsibilities (if any) of pharmacists with respect to these products.
The purpose of this study was to explore pharmacy and stakeholder leaders’ perceptions of pharmacists’ professional NHP roles and responsibilities.
Semi-structured key informant interviews were conducted with pharmacy leaders (n= 17) and stakeholder (n=18) leaders representing consumers, complementary and alternative medicine practitioners, conventional healthcare practitioners, and industry across Canada.
Overwhelmingly all participants believed a main NHP responsibility for pharmacists was safety monitoring. One challenge identified in the interviews was pharmacists’ general lack of NHP knowledge. Stakeholder leaders did not expect pharmacists to be experts on NHPs, rather that pharmacists should have a basic level of knowledge about NHPs. Many pharmacy leaders appeared to be unfamiliar with current pharmacy policies and guidelines concerning NHPs.
Participants described pharmacists’ professional roles and responsibilities for NHPs as similar to those for over-the-counter drugs. More awareness of existing NHP-related pharmacy policies is needed. Pharmacy owners/managers should provide additional training to ensure front-line pharmacists have appropriate knowledge of NHPs sold in the pharmacy.
PMID: 20188329 CAMSID: cams1316
natural health products; pharmacists; professional roles and responsibilities
To reach consensus on core competency statements for natural health products (NHPs) for Canadian pharmacy students.
Four rounds of a modified Delphi method were used to achieve consensus on core competency statements for NHPs. Pharmacy educators from Canada and the United States, and representatives from Canadian pharmacy organizations ranked their agreement using a 5-point Likert scale.
Consensus was achieved on 3 NHP-related core competency statements: (1) to incorporate NHP knowledge when providing pharmaceutical care; (2) to access and critically appraise NHP-related information sources; and (3) to provide appropriate education to patients and other health care providers on the effectiveness, potential adverse effects, and drug interactions of NHPs.
Consensus was reached among leaders in NHP education on 3 NHP-related core competency statements. Implementation of these competencies would ensure that graduating Canadian pharmacists would be able to fulfill their professional responsibilities related to NHPs.
natural health products (NHPs); competencies; Delphi method; complementary and alternative medicine; herbal medicine
To explore knowledge and attitude of pharmacists in Qatar towards natural health products (NHPs).
The quantitative component of this study consisted of an anonymous, online, self-administered questionnaire to assess knowledge about NHPs among pharmacists in Qatar. Descriptive statistics and inferential analysis were conducted using Statistical Package of Social Sciences (SPSS®). Means and standard deviation were used to analyze descriptive data, and statistical significance was expressed as P-value, where P≤0.05 was considered statistically significant. Associations between variables were measured using Pearson correlation. The qualitative component utilized focus group (FG) meetings with a purposive sample of community pharmacists. Meetings were conducted until a point of saturation was reached. FG discussions were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. Data were analyzed using a framework approach to sort the data according to emerging themes.
The majority of participants had average to poor knowledge about NHPs while only around 7% had good knowledge. In the FG meetings, participants considered the media, medical representatives, and old systems of natural health as major source of their knowledge. They criticized undergraduate pharmacy courses (for inadequately preparing pharmacists to deal with NHPs) and the pharmacy regulations (for being irrelevant). A perception of NHPs as being “safe” still exists among pharmacists.
Pharmacists’ ability to provide effective services associated with NHPs is limited by poor access to evidence-based information and poor knowledge. A perception of NHPs and CAM as ‘safe’ still exists among pharmacists, and regulations related to NHPs require addressing to follow best practice and ensure patient safety.
Qatar; focus group; complimentary alternative medicine
To determine the use and potential interactions of natural health products (NHPs) with conventional medications in children with life-limiting illnesses.
The present study was a retrospective medical record review of palliative care patients <18 years of age who were admitted for respite care to a Canadian paediatric hospice between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2013. The NHPs were identified according to Health Canada’s inclusion criteria.
A total of 106 children were included in the present study. Eighty-two (77.4%) had used one or more NHPs: 60 (56%) used vitamins and minerals; 45 (42.5%) used other products including probiotics, omega-3, organic acids and essential fatty acids; 34 (32.1%) used everyday consumer products; 12 (11.3%) used herb or plant-based remedies; and one (0.9%) used homeopathic remedies. Thirty-nine potential NHP-medication and 10 potential NHP-NHP interactions were identified. A considerable number of patients (n=54) used at least one medication and NHP, or two NHPs with potential interactions. The most common type of interaction was pharmacokinetic: decreasing blood concentrations of the medication, NHP or both (43.9% of NHP users); and enhancing the blood concentration of an NHP for NHP-NHP interactions (22% of NHP users).
A high proportion of patients in respite care use NHPs. Most used NHPs and medications that have potential interactions, although there were no adverse clinical manifestations in the present study. It is important to educate health care professionals about NHPs, the evidence available and lack thereof. This could reduce the most serious interactions and improve the alliance between parents and health care providers to balance the potential risks and benefits of NHPs.
Complementary medicine; Hospice; Interactions; Natural health products; Paediatric
To address knowledge gaps regarding natural health product (NHP) usage in mental health populations, we examined their use in adults with mood disorders, and explored the potential for adverse events.
Food and NHP intake was obtained from 97 adults with mood disorders. NHP data was used to compare prevalence with population norms (British Columbia Nutrition Survey; BCNS). Bivariate and regression analyses examined factors associated with NHP use. Assessment of potential adverse effects of NHP use was based on comparing nutrient intakes from food plus supplements with the Dietary Reference Intakes and by reviewing databases for reported adverse health effects.
Two-thirds (66%; 95% CI 56 to 75) were taking at least one NHP; 58% (95% CI 47 to 68) were taking NHPs in combination with psychiatric medications. The proportion of each type of NHP used was generally higher than the BCNS (range of p’s < 0.05 to 0.0001). When intakes from food and NHP sources were combined, a small proportion exceeded any Lowest-Observed-Adverse-Effect-Levels: only for niacin (n = 17) and magnesium (n = 6), two nutrients for which the potential for adverse effects is minimal. Conversely, about 38% (95% CI 28 to 49) of the sample were taking a non-nutrient based NHP for which previous adverse events had been documented.
The prevalent use of NHPs in this population suggests that health care providers need to be knowledgeable about their characteristics. The efficacy and safety of NHPs in relation to mental health warrants further investigation.
Natural health products; Adverse events; Mood disorders
To determine how common it is for parents to give natural health products (NHPs) to their children, which NHPs are being used, why they are being used, and parents’ assessments of the benefits and side effects of NHPs.
Newfoundland and Labrador.
Parents waiting in their family doctors’ offices.
Main outcome measures
Parent and child demographic characteristics; pediatric chronic medical conditions affecting the children; prescribed medications, over-the-counter medications, and NHPs used by the children; why the medications and NHPs were being used, the dose, and parents’ assessments of the effectiveness and side effects; and where parents had heard about the NHPs, whether they had told their physicians that the children were taking the products, and where they had obtained the products.
A total of 202 (53.4%) of the 378 eligible adults who were approached completed the survey. This represented 333 children. Mean (SD) age of the children was 5.1 (3.3) years. Overall, 28.7% of parents reported using nonvitamin NHPs for their children. A total of 137 children (41.1%) had taken NHPs (including vitamins); 61.1% of the NHPs being used were vitamins. The remainder fell under teas (primarily chamomile and green teas), echinacea, fish or omega-3 oils, and a large category of “other” products. These NHPs were most commonly used to improve general health, improve immunity, and prevent colds and infections. Approximately half of the parents (51.7%) believed their children had benefited from taking NHPs, and 4.4% believed their children had experienced adverse side effects. Slightly less than half of the parents (45.0%) had informed their physicians that their children were taking NHPs.
Overall, 45.5% of parents attending physicians’ offices reported using NHPs in their children. If vitamins are not included in the definition of NHPs, this rate drops to 28.7%. Parents most commonly use NHPs to maintain the general health of their children, to prevent colds, and to boost children’s immune systems. About half of the parents believed the NHPs helped, very few had noticed any side effects, and approximately half had informed their physicians that they were giving their children NHPs.
There has been a global rise in the use of natural health products (NHPs). Proper regulation of NHPs is pivotal to ensure good quality control standards, enhance consumers' safety and facilitate their integration into modern healthcare systems. There is scarcity of published data on the prevalence of NHPs usage among the general Kuwaiti population. Hence, this study was designed to determine awareness, patterns of use, general attitude and information requirements about NHPs among the public in Kuwait.
A descriptive cross-sectional survey was performed using a pretested self-administered questionnaire on a sample of 1300 Kuwaiti individuals, selected from six governorates in Kuwait using a multistage stratified clustered sampling. Descriptive and multivariate logistic regression analysis were used in data analysis.
The response rate was 90.2%. NHPs were thought to be herbal remedies by most of participants (63.5%), followed by vitamins/minerals (40.5%), traditional medicines (21.1%), probiotics (14.9%), amino acids and essential fatty acids (7.2%), and homeopathic medicines (5.6%). NHPs usage was reported by 71.4% (95% CI: 68.8-74.0%) of respondents, and mostly associated with females (OR: 1.90; 95% CI: 1.44-2.51). Herbal remedies were the most commonly used (41.3%; 95% CI: 38.5-44.2%). The most common reasons for using NHPs were to promote and maintain health and to prevent illness and build immune system. Family members and/or friends and mass media were the main sources for providing information about NHPs. About 18% of consumers have experienced a side effect due to using a NHP. Attitudes toward NHPs were generally positive; with more than 75% of participants believing that the Ministry of Health in Kuwait should regulate the claims made by the manufacturers of NHPs and it is important to talk to a medical doctor or a pharmacist prior to using NHPs. Most of the respondents showed increased interest to acquire knowledge about different types of information related to NHPs.
The prevalence of use of NHPs among Kuwaiti population is high. The present findings have major public health policy implications for Kuwait. Therefore, there is an apparent need to establish effective health education programs and implement better and more regulated NHPs use policies in Kuwait.
Natural health products; Herbal remedies; Patterns of use; Kuwait
Natural health products (NHPs), such as herbal medicines and vitamins, are widely available over-the-counter and are often purchased by consumers without advice from a healthcare provider. This study examined how consumers respond when they believe they have experienced NHP-related adverse drug reactions (ADRs) in order to determine how to improve current safety monitoring strategies.
Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with twelve consumers who had experienced a self-identified NHP-related ADR. Key emergent themes were identified and coded using content analysis techniques.
Consumers were generally not comfortable enough with their conventional health care providers to discuss their NHP-related ADRs. Consumers reported being more comfortable discussing NHP-related ADRs with personnel from health food stores, friends or family with whom they had developed trusted relationships. No one reported their suspected ADR to Health Canada and most did not know this was possible.
Consumers generally did not report their suspected NHP-related ADRs to healthcare providers or to Health Canada. Passive reporting systems for collecting information on NHP-related ADRs cannot be effective if consumers who experience NHP-related ADRs do not report their experiences. Healthcare providers, health food store personnel, manufacturers and other stakeholders also need to take responsibility for reporting ADRs in order to improve current pharmacovigilance of NHPs.
Aims and Objectives
Many natural health products (NHPs) and dietary supplements (DS) are purchased in pharmacies and it has been argued that pharmacists are in the best position to provide patients with evidence-based information about them. This study was designed to identify how the pharmacist’s role with respect to NHPs/DS is portrayed in the literature.
A systematic search was conducted in a variety of health databases to identify all literature that pertained to both pharmacy and NHPs/DS. Of the 786 articles identified, 665 were broad-coded and 259 were subjected to in-depth qualitative content analysis for emergent themes.
Overwhelmingly, support for the sale of NHPs/DS in pharmacies is strong. Additionally, a role for pharmacists in NHP/DS counselling is underscored. But another recurrent theme is that pharmacists are ill-equipped to counsel patients about these products that are available on their shelves. This situation has led some to question the ethics of pharmacists selling NHPs/DS and to highlight the existence of an ethical conflict stemming from the profit-motive associated with NHP/DS sales.
This analysis raises concerns about the ethics of NHPs/DS being sold in pharmacies, and about pharmacists being expected to counsel about products of which they have little knowledge.
PMID: 20218027 CAMSID: cams1317
Natural health products (NHPs) such as herbs, vitamins and homeopathic medicines, are currently available for sale in most Canadian pharmacies. However, most pharmacists report that they have limited knowledge about these products which have been regulated in Canada as a specific sub-category of drugs. In this paper, consumers' and practicing pharmacists' perceptions of pharmacists' professional responsibilities with respect to NHPs are examined.
A total of 16 focus groups were conducted with consumers (n = 50) and pharmacists (n = 47) from four different cities across Canada (Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, and Halifax).
In this paper, we illustrate the ways in which pharmacists' professional responsibilities are impacted by changing consumer needs. Many consumers in the study utilized a wide range of information resources that may or may not have included pharmacists. Nevertheless, the majority of consumers and pharmacists agreed that pharmacists should be knowledgeable about NHPs and felt that pharmacists should be able to manage drug-NHPs interactions as well as identify and evaluate the variety of information available to help consumers make informed decisions.
This paper demonstrates that consumers' expectations and behaviour significantly impact pharmacists' perceptions of their professional responsibilities with respect to NHPs.
The nonhuman primate (NHP)-related injuries in rabies-enzootic countries is a public health problem of increasing importance. The aims of this work are to collect data concerning rabies transmission from NHPs to humans; to collate medical practices regarding rabies postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) in different countries, and to provide an evidence base to support the decision to apply rabies PEP in this context.
To retrieve information, we conducted a literature search from 1960 to January 2013. All reports of rabies in NHPs and rabies transmission to humans by infected NHPs were included. Also included were studies of travelers seeking care for rabies PEP in various settings.
Data collected by the French National Reference Centre for Rabies concerning NHPs submitted for rabies diagnosis in France and human rabies exposure to NHPs in travelers returning to France were analyzed for the periods 1999–2012 and 1994–2011, respectively.
A total of 159 reports of rabies in NHPs have been retrieved from various sources in South America, Africa, and Asia, including 13 cases in animals imported to Europe and the US. 134 were laboratory confirmed cases. 25 cases of human rabies following NHP-related injuries were reported, including 20 from Brazil. Among more than 2000 international travelers from various settings, the proportion of injuries related to NHP exposures was about 31%. NHPs rank second, following dogs in most studies and first in studies conducted in travelers returning from Southeast Asia. In France, 15.6% of 1606 travelers seeking PEP for exposure to any animal were injured by monkeys.
Although less frequently reported in published literature than human rabies, confirmed rabies cases in NHPs occur. The occurrence of documented transmission of rabies from NHPs to human suggests that rabies PEP is indicated in patients injured by NHPs in rabies-enzootic countries.
No international consensus or even a consensus among existing national recommendations about rabies postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) following a nonhuman primate (NHP)-related injury currently exists. Epidemiologic studies and reports collated in this review indicate that the number of rabies case reported in NHPs are rare compared with humans. This finding might be because of a lower contact rate of NHPs with rabid reservoir but also very likely because of underreporting. Nevertheless, documented cases and subsequent transmission to humans have been reported from various sources in South America, Africa, and Asia. Further, international travelers often report NHP-related injuries and NHPs can be close to humans. Little is currently known of the pathobiology of rabies virus shedding in primates, which implies that rabies PEP and administration of rabies immunoglobulin should be considered in patients with a possible exposure.
To gain a more thorough understanding of why parents choose to give their children natural health products (NHPs), parents’ sources of information about NHPs, and the extent of disclosure and conversation with family doctors about the use of NHPs.
Newfoundland and Labrador.
Parents of children who were using NHPs (N = 20).
Individual, semistructured interviews were carried out with parents to obtain a better understanding of the reasoning behind the use of NHPs. Key themes emerging from the qualitative data were identified according to a number of criteria, including relevance to the research objectives, frequency with which a theme was mentioned, relative importance of the themes based on the amount of text taken up to address an issue, and emphasis (eg, emphatic or emotional speech).
The types of NHPs used by parents participating in this study varied, except for the use of multivitamins. In addition, use of the products themselves was variable and inconsistent. Parents reported few concerns about the use of NHPs. The most commonly reported source of information about NHPs was family and friends. Most participants had not spoken to their family doctors about the use of NHPs.
Participants considered NHPs to be “natural” and seemed to equate this assessment with safety. This might explain why these parents sought advice and information from family and friends rather than from their family doctors and often failed to disclose the use of NHPs to their children’s family doctors.
Menopause is a natural phase in a woman’s aging process, characterized by the cessation of menstruation. Women who are going through the menopause transition can experience physiological symptoms that significantly impact their quality of life. Concern about adverse effects of traditional hormone therapy often leads women to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) natural health products (NHPs). The goal of this study was toinvestigate the range of OTC NHPs for menopause available to Canadian women, and the packaging information they can access to make self-management decisions.
Edmonton stores belonging to each of nine Canadian pharmacy chains were visited to identify NHPs marketed for the relief of menopausal symptoms. Details were extracted from the packaging: a) product name and manufacturer, b) Health Canada license number, c) medically active ingredients, d) claims of efficacy, e) contra-indications and warnings, and f) daily cost. Data were entered and analyzed using Microsoft Excel.
We identified 20 OTC NHP menopausal products, 19 of which had Health Canada license numbers. Twenty-eight medically active ingredients were identified, with the most common being black cohosh (in 14 products) and soy isoflavones (n = 7), chaste tree (n = 5), and dong quai (n = 3). Most products claimed they would relieve vasomotor symptoms, including hot flashes (n = 14) and night sweats (n = 10). Each product had a labeled contraindication for at least one specific condition. Costs per recommended daily dose ranged from $0.07 to a maximum of $2.50 (CAD$).
Natural health products for menopausal symptoms are easily available to Canadian women. The lack of clear evidence of product efficacy makes the need for easily accessible, balanced information on this topic important for women to make well informed choices.
Over-the counter products; Natural health products; Menopause; Menopause symptoms; Women’s choice
Natural health products (NHP) which include minerals, vitamins and herbal remedies are not generally considered by medical practitioners as conventional medicines and as such are not frequently prescribed by health centre’s as either main-line or supplemental treatments. In the field of cardiovascular medicine, studies have shown that typically, less than half of patients suffering from coronary syndromes chose to take any form of NHP supplement and these products are rarely recommended by their medical practitioner. Vascular/endothelial cell damage is a key instigator of coronary arterial plaque development which often culminates in thrombosis and myocardial infarction (MI). Current treatment for patients known to be at risk of primary or secondary (MI) includes lipid lowering statins, anti-clotting agents (e.g. tissue plasminogen activator; tPA) and drugs for stabilization of blood pressure such as beta-blockers. However, evidence has been building which suggests that components of at least several NHP (e.g. aged garlic extract (AGExt), resveratrol and green tea extracts (GTE)) may have significant vascular protective effects through reduction of oxidative stress, lowering of blood pressure, reduction in platelet aggregation, vasodilation and inhibition of abnormal angiogenesis. Therefore, in this review we will discuss in detail the potential of these substances (chosen on the basis of their potency and complimentarity) as anti-atherosclerotic agents and the justification for their consideration as main-line additional supplements or prescriptions.
Atherosclerotic plaque; Cardiovascular disease; Natural health products; Vascular protection
We examined the change in the use of rosiglitazone-containing products (RCPs) Canada-wide between 2004 and 2010 and whether the rates of adverse events in association with RCP therapy in Canadian patients changed in this period to better understand the real world use of RCP medications and as part of a regulatory commitment by GlaxoSmithKline to Health Canada to assess whether there was an impact of a risk communication on cardiac safety.
RCP utilization data were obtained from IMS Brogan’s longitudinal de-identified patient database (known as LRx) that tracks prescription activity using store-based data collection from pharmacies in all Canadian provinces. Adverse events (AEs), serious adverse events (SAEs) and cardiac AEs associated with RCP use in Canadian patients between April 2004 and December 2010 were identified from GlaxoSmithKline’s AE database and, using the LRx data, rates per 100,000 patients were estimated.
A total of 239,184 patients were identified as having received at least one RCP prescription between 2004 and 2010 from the LRx. After excluding those with inconsistent gender or age, only one RCP prescription at the pharmacy, a prescription from a pharmacy that had not consistently reported for the past six years or an unreasonably high number of prescriptions, 180,936 patients remained for the analysis. The number of reports identified from the AE database that occurred between April 2004 and December 2010 was 1,037. The average monthly rates of AEs, SAEs and cardiac AEs decreased by 57%, 43% and 4%, respectively, between the observed periods, April 2004-October 2007 and November 2007-December 2010.
The findings of this analysis demonstrate a significant decrease in RCP use in Canada following a meta-analysis publication suggesting harm, which has been maintained. It is not possible to disentangle whether the continuing decline can be attributed to the meta-analysis, the changes in prescribing guidelines, media attention or a combination of some or all of these factors.
Rosiglitazone; Prescription data; Adverse events; Risk communication
The use of complementary and alternative medicine (cam), including the ingestion of natural health products (nhps), is common among cancer patients. Of concern to clinicians and patients alike is the possibility that cam, used concurrently with biomedical therapy, may interact poorly with that therapy, especially chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Proponents of nhps argue that taking such products can help to reduce the side effects of conventional therapy and can provide an additional anticancer effect. However, opponents insist that the potential for harm is too great to warrant the risk of concurrent administration. There are promising examples of specific nhps that may provide patient benefit even when given in close proximity both to chemotherapy and to radiotherapy, but unfortunately, in part because of a rather limited evidence base, caution is warranted when considering the issue of therapeutic interactions. Strategic application of nhps before or after conventional therapy may be considered; however, concurrent application should be avoided as a general principle until further evidence is available regarding specific interactions.
Complementary medicine; cam; natural health products; nhps; chemotherapy; radiotherapy; antioxidants; drug–herb interactions; pharmacology
Emergency department visits and subsequent hospitalizations of young children following unsupervised ingestions of prescription medications are increasing despite widespread use of child-resistant packaging and caregiver education efforts. Data on the medications implicated in ingestions are limited, but could help identify prevention priorities and intervention strategies.
We used nationally-representative adverse drug event data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System–Cooperative Adverse Drug Event Surveillance project and national retail pharmacy prescription data from IMS Health to estimate the frequency and rates of emergency hospitalizations for unsupervised prescription medication ingestions by young children (2007 through 2011).
Based on 1,513 surveillance cases, 9,490 estimated emergency hospitalizations (95% confidence interval, 6,420 to 12,560) occurred annually in the United States for unsupervised prescription medication ingestions among children < 6 years from 2007 through 2011; 75.4% involved 1- or 2-year old children. Opioids (17.6%) and benzodiazepines (10.1%) were the most commonly implicated medication classes. The most commonly implicated active ingredients were buprenorphine (7.7%) and clonidine (7.4%). The top twelve active ingredients, alone or in combination with others, were implicated in nearly half (45.0%) of hospitalizations. Accounting for the number of unique patients who received dispensed prescriptions, the hospitalization rate for unsupervised ingestion of buprenorphine products was significantly higher than rates for all other commonly implicated medications and 97-fold higher than the rate for oxycodone products (200.1 vs. 2.1 hospitalizations per 100,000 unique patients).
Focusing unsupervised ingestion prevention efforts on medications with the highest hospitalization rates may efficiently achieve large public health impact.
poisoning; unintentional overdose; pediatric hospitalization; buprenorphine; opioids; sulfonylureas; prescription drugs; drug packaging
Pharmacists have an important role in detecting, preventing, and solving
prescription problems, which if left unresolved, may pose a risk of harming
The objectives of this study were to evaluate the feasibility of a generic
study instrument for documentation of prescription problems requiring
contact with prescriber before dispensing. The study was organized: 1) by
countries: Estonia, Norway and Sweden; 2) by type of prescriptions:
handwritten prescriptions, printouts of prescriptions in the electronic
medical record and electronically transmitted prescriptions to pharmacies;
and 3) by recording method - self-completion by pharmacists and independent
Observational study with independent observers at community pharmacies in
Estonia (n=4) and Sweden (n=7) and self-completed protocols in Norway
Pharmacists’'in Estonia contacted the prescriber for 1.47% of the
prescriptions, about 3 times as often as in Norway (0.45%) and Sweden
(0.38%). Handwritten prescriptions dominated among the problem prescriptions
in Estonia (73.2%), printouts of prescriptions in the electronic medical
record (89.1%) in Norway and electronically transmitted prescriptions to
pharmacies (55.9%) in Sweden. More administrative errors were identified on
handwritten prescriptions and printouts of prescriptions in the electronic
medical record in Estonia and in Norway compared with electronically
transmitted prescriptions to pharmacies in Sweden (p<0.05 for
prescription types and p<0.01 for countries). However, clinically
important errors and delivery problems appeared equally often on the
different types of prescriptions. In all three countries, only few cases of
drug interactions and adverse drug reactions were identified.
Despite the different patterns of prescription problems in three countries,
the instrument was feasible and can be regarded appropriate to document and
classify prescription problems necessitating contact with prescriber before
dispensing, irrespective of the type of prescription or recording
Medication Errors; Patient Safety; Community Pharmacy Services; Estonia; Norway; Sweden
New Canadian policy to regulate natural health products (NHPs), such as herbs and vitamins were implemented on January 1st, 2004. We explored complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners' perceptions of how the new regulations may affect their practices and relationships with patients/consumers.
This was an applied ethnographic study. Data were collected in fall 2004 via qualitative interviews with 37 Canadian leaders of four CAM groups that use natural products as a core part of their practises: naturopathic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), homeopathic medicine and Western herbalism. All interviews were transcribed verbatim and coded independently by a minimum of two investigators using content analysis.
Three key findings emerged from the data: 1) all CAM leaders were concerned with issues of their own access to NHPs; 2) all the CAM leaders, except for the homeopathic leaders, specifically indicated a desire to have a restricted schedule of NHPs; and 3) only naturopathic leaders were concerned the NHP regulations could potentially endanger patients if they self-medicate incorrectly.
Naturopaths, TCM practitioners, homeopaths, and Western herbalists were all concerned about how the new NHP regulations will affect their access to the products they need to practice effectively. Additional research will need to focus on what impacts actually occur as the regulations are implemented more fully.
Over 30% of individuals use natural health products (NHPs) for osteoarthritis-related pain. The Deficit Model for the Public Understanding of Science suggests that if individuals are given more information (especially about scientific evidence) they will make better health-related decisions. In contrast, the Contextual Model argues that scientific evidence is one of many factors that explain how consumers make health-related decisions. The primary objective was to investigate how the level of scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of NHPs impacts consumer decision-making in the self-selection of NHPs by individuals with osteoarthritis.
The means-end chain approach to product evaluation was used to compare laddering interviews with two groups of community-dwelling Canadian seniors who had used NHPs to treat their osteoarthritis. Group 1 (n=13) had used only NHPs (glucosamine and/or chondroitin) with “high” scientific evidence of efficacy. Group 2 (n=12) had used NHPs (methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) and/or bromelain) with little or no scientific evidence supporting efficacy. Content analysis and generation of hierarchical value maps facilitated the identification of similarities and differences between the two groups.
The dominant decision-making chains for participants in the two scientific evidence categories were similar. Scientific evidence was an important decision-making factor but not as important as the advice from health care providers, friends and family. Most participants learned about scientific evidence via indirect sources from health care providers and the media.
The Contextual Model of the public understanding of science helps to explain why our participants believed scientific evidence is not the most important factor in their decision to use NHPs to help manage their osteoarthritis.
Natural health products; Decision-making; Means ends chain analysis; Osteoarthritis
Natural health products (NHPs) are defined as natural extracts containing polychemical mixtures; they play a leading role in the discovery and development of drugs, for disease treatment. More than 50% of current cancer therapeutics are derived from natural sources. However, the efficacy of natural extracts in treating cancer has not been explored extensively. Scientific research into the validity and mechanism of action of these products is needed to develop NHPs as main stream cancer therapy. The preclinical and clinical validation of NHPs would be essential for this development. This review summarizes some of the recent advancements in the area of NHPs with anticancer effects. This review also focuses on various NHPs that have been studied to scientifically validate their claims as anticancer agents. Furthermore, this review emphasizes the efficacy of these NHPs in targeting the multiple vulnerabilities of cancer cells for a more selective efficacious treatment. The studies reviewed here have paved the way for the introduction of more NHPs from traditional medicine to the forefront of modern medicine, in order to provide alternative, safer, and cheaper complementary treatments for cancer therapy and possibly improve the quality of life of cancer patients.