New tool to help retailers inform consumers on potential nutrient/drug interactions

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Pharmacology

New tool to help retailers inform consumers on potential nutrient/drug interactions
A new assessment tool will help pharmacists and vitamin retailers communicate possible drug-nutrient interactions, the developer says. The tool, called Healthnotes Interactions Checker,  is offered by Aisle7, a leader in vitamin education programs for retail. The company says the tool will help simplify the task of deciding which nutrients positively or negatively interact with a prescription medicine.

The new product builds on the company’s existing expertise in providing point of sale information on nutrients, said Aisle7 CEO Skye Lininger.

Curated databases

“The product set that we have is based off a series of curated databases about ingredient information about vitamins,  herbs, nutraceuticals, probiotics, aminos and so on that we obtain from regular and rigorous review of about 600 medical journals.  We probably physically look at about 100,000 journal articles on an annual basis,”​ Lininger told NutraIngredients-USA.

“We put that all into a database so that it is very easy to find what particular nutrients do, what the health benefits are, what studies have found out about them, all in language that understandable to the consumer,”​ he said.

Cross linked data

Lininger said Aisle7 is also primarily a software company.  All of that data is linked together in the company’s proprietary platforms, enabling a retailer or consumer to quickly retrieve reams of information on particular products.

 "We can very easily pull out information about particular nutrients, so it is very easy for our customers to create custom presentations to present to their customers. The purpose is to help the consumer to make an informed decision,”​ Lininger said.

“Our clients are typically retailers, and include the retailers you would expect like GNC,  Vitamin Shoppe and Whole Foods.  But our client list has expanded in the last couple of years pretty deeply into FDM with retailers like Walmart and Costco and major grocery chains like Kroger.  And on the drug side with CVS as well as some smaller chains,”​ he said.

Consumers on their own

According to Aisle7, more than half of all Americans take some form of dietary supplement,  and an estimated 40% of US adults take both drugs and nutrients as part of their health regimen. Of these, 60% aren't discussing possible interactions with their physician or pharmacist.

Lininger said that data from the Natuarl Marketing Institute shows that 20% of Baby Boomers who have stopped taking supplements said they did so because they are concerned about possible drug interactions.

“We have documented several thousand interactions. Sometimes it might be good idea to take a supplement with a medication, but  sometimes it might be a bad thing. The supplement might provide an unwanted additive effect or it might interfere with the absorption of the drug. We try to provide that third-party, objective viewpoint,”​ he said.

“A lot of people won’t talk to their doctor about it, and pharmacists are generally too busy, so the consumer is left pretty much to his or her own devices,​” Lininger said.

Color coded interface

The Healthnotes Interactions Checker has a simple interface: a person enters their current drugs and supplements into the list and the resulting report is color-coded to clearly identify nutrients that have adverse or beneficial interactions with their medications. Reports can be printed or emailed to read later and share with a health professional.

According to the company, reports can also be automatically triggered as part of a prescription refill. The Healthnotes Interactions Checker accepts National Drug Codes (NDC) from external pharmacy systems to create customized reports. When a refill is requested, a report can be auto-generated and delivered directly to the patient's mobile phone, and the tool will run on other platforms, too, such as tablets. Or it can be made available at prescription pickup to discuss with their pharmacist, who can then highlight the nutrients to avoid due to safety concerns and which to add to support a medicine's effectiveness or reduce side effects.

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