Consumer Health and Wellness Products – A Consumer’s Guide
The Consumer Healthcare Products Association, or CHPA, is an independent, non-profit trade association representing the interests of the nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical industries. This association’s mission is to promote “efficient and effective” use of health-care products and services. The CHPA also advocates for improved patient safety, quality patient care, improved access to quality health care and evidence-based medicine through its membership in governing bodies and consumer protection groups such as The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. The CHPA board of directors consist of prominent medical and scientific experts with a strong background in the health-care industry, including physicians, pharmacists, nurses, hospital administrators and business executives.
The organization is extremely powerful because it has so many members. And it wields enormous influence. According to one CHPA publication, the group has more than 250 member organizations and associations nationwide. It has helped strengthen the hand of pharmaceutical companies in developing new drugs and medical products, according to The New England Journal of Medicine. Several major pharmaceutical companies have given hundreds of millions of dollars to support consumer healthcare products research and development. In addition, major manufacturers such as Shoenberry Foundry Matica, Genzyme Corporation and Ciba Labs donate funds to support various CHPA projects.
One thing the consumer healthcare product manufacturers want to make sure is available is over-the-counter treatments for minor illnesses and conditions. According to an article appearing in the February 14 edition of the Wall Street Journal, several manufacturers fear that some of these new products will not perform as well as prescription medications. One reason manufacturers might feel this way is because they do not test their products for long enough to determine whether or not they’re safe, according to the Wall Street Journal. Another reason is that most people do not know the difference between prescription and over-the-counter medicines, according to the article. If a medication doesn’t have a prescription, then it’s considered an over-the-counter product, according to the Wall Street Journal article.
According to the same article, some drug companies are starting to get worried about the impact that these new dietary supplements could have on their profits. One company, for instance, indicated that it would “paperscreen” potential dietary supplements to make sure that they’re approved for use before selling them to consumers. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy is responsible for overseeing the manufacture and approval of prescription and over-the-counter drugs and pharmaceuticals. The association says it “actively monitors changes in the marketplace” and has the responsibility for ensuring that consumers receive proper information about the product and whether they are appropriate for their health.
According to the same article, the FDA has received reports of unusual dietary supplement misuse. In one case, a man died from mixing unapproved herbal pills with a Tylenol. He was later found to be under the influence of the combination when he drove his car. Such examples highlight the need for consumers to become educated about the difference between legitimate over-the-counter drugs and those that should be avoided.
Another issue that the article highlights is the difficulty of tracing where the dietary supplement actually came from. In many cases, a distributor may claim that their product came from a particular manufacturer, but that manufacturer doesn’t reveal their manufacturing facility. Some manufacturers don’t even reveal where their raw materials come from, as they believe that it would be too difficult for distributors to verify their origin. As a result, it can be difficult for consumers to ensure that the dietary supplements they purchase are real. The review concludes with a call for more research into the global consumer healthcare market to find better solutions.