It is no news to the industry that preventing disease is far cheaper than trying to cure it. But this revelation appears to finally be reaching Washington, where President Obama recently warned that the United States is "out of money" when it comes to meeting the nation's health care needs.
"If we don't reduce long-term health care inflation," he said in a May 22 interview on C-SPAN, "we can't get control of the deficit."
Numbers-crunchers know that there is no better way to control costs than disease prevention. A 2005 report from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that employers reaped a $3-$6 return on every $1 they invested in disease prevention.
For companies that have done the work of setting up campaigns to promote the preventative benefits of their products, the new tone in the White House might present a unique opportunity to get their message out.
"I do hope that more healthcare professionals will become more receptive and open their eyes to the benefits of nutritional supplementation," said Karen Todd, RD, director of marketing for Kyowa Hakko USA. "It is more important now than ever."
Since 2003, Kyowa Hakko USA has maintained a major educational campaign for two of its branded ingredients, Cognizin Citicoline and Setria Glutathione. They include publishing papers in medical journals, developing continuing education modules for pharmacists, giving presentations at medical conferences and forming a Medical Advisory Board.
More companies are adopting this strategy. In mid-May, the Council for Responsible Nutrition launched a nonprofit educational affiliate called the CRN Foundation, which represents the trade association's 60-plus suppliers and manufacturers.
"Establishing a non-profit educational organization under the CRN banner was a logical next step for our member companies," explained CRN President and CEO Steve Mister, who will serve as executive director of the foundation.
The foundation has multiple goals: to provide information on product benefits and safety; to conduct and promote research; to support researchers in the creation of appropriate research models; and to inform healthcare professionals about the proper use of supplements.
This month, Cypress Systems launched an aggressive cancer prevention campaign to educate the public about the benefits of SelenoExcell, their proprietary selenium formula. Selenium is the only mineral to receive a qualified health claim from the Food and Drug Administration for its role in helping prevent a variety of cancers. SelenoExcell was found in a human clinical trial to dramatically reduce colon, prostate and lung cancers, and it is the only certified organically bound high-selenium yeast standardised with the National Cancer Institute. It is also supported by a Clinical Trial Agreement with the Cancer Prevention Division of NCI.
Their campaign is centered on a website, found at www.excellhealth4me.com, designed to be a one-stop shop for consumers looking for information about cancer prevention. "There is much information about cancer prevention on the Internet, but the goal of this new site is to consolidate key content from numerous sources," the company explained.
The timing of their campaign isn't an accident. The company hopes to capitalize on a Warner Brothers movie due out this fall titled The Informant, which features Matt Damon playing Cypress Systems COO Mark Whitacre, PhD. The film is about Whitacre's role as an FBI informant for one of the biggest price fixing cases in America.
"Although sadly underutilized, selenium has the potential to have the most profound impact upon dietary cancer prevention of any nutrient we know of today," Whitacre said.
It is the failure of the health care system for conditions like cancer, which is the second-leading cause of death in America, that prompted Terry Grossman, MD, to write his recently published book, TRANSCEND, which documents the high costs of delayed medical intervention. Grossman is the director of the Grossman Wellness Center in Denver, which conducts more comprehensive prevention screenings than the Mayo Clinic.
"Cancer is far more treatable when detected early before it has metastasized," Grossman said. "Yet, because aggressive screening testing is not being done, far too many cancers are not found until too late in their course for the most effective treatment or cure.
"Prevention of disease, however, is even more important. After all, who wouldn't prefer to avoid a disease entirely as opposed to detecting it early? Aggressive preventive strategies such as proper nutrition and supplementation can save money as well. Studies suggest that $1 spent on disease prevention can result in savings of $5.60 that would otherwise need to be spent on disease treatment."