Natural Products Association: Latest JAMA Ginkgo Study ‘Still Misses the Boat’

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 30, 2009) – In response to a study released in the December 23/30 issue of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association on the herbal supplement Ginkgo biloba’s effect on slowing the rate of cognitive decline, Natural Products Association (NPA), the oldest and largest trade association representing retailers and manufacturers of dietary supplements and other natural products, said the researchers ‘still missed the boat’ in their analysis.

The JAMA study stated that adults who used the herbal supplement Ginkgo biloba for several years did not have a slower rate of cognitive decline compared to adults who received placebo. The researchers analyzed results from the 2008 Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEM) study to determine as a secondary outcome if G. biloba slowed the rate of cognitive decline in older adults who had normal cognition or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) at the beginning of the study.

“As we stated in our comments regarding the 2008 GEM [Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory] study last year, the boat has left the dock and this study isn’t on it,” said Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., vice president for scientific and regulatory affairs at the Natural Products Association. “When one considers that age-related cognitive decline may initiate in healthy adults as early as their 30s, it would seem that if the authors were indeed serious about investigating prevention as a secondary outcome, they would have selected a population that was situated closer to the onset of cognitive decline instead of one where its effects most likely have already taken hold.”

The Natural Products Association had previously issued comments in 2008 on the GEM study, which originally questioned the benefits of Ginkgo biloba on preventing dementia and Alzheimer's disease (AD), saying the study “missed the boat entirely” because the universe of people studied was too limited to make broad statements about the benefits of the popular dietary supplement.

The Natural Products Association (NPA), founded in 1936, is the largest and oldest non-profit organization dedicated to the natural products industry. The Natural Products Association represents more than 10,000 retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors of natural products, including foods, dietary supplements, and health/beauty aids. As the leading voice of the natural products industry, the Natural Products Association's mission is to advocate for the rights of consumers to have access to products that will maintain and improve their health, and for the rights of retailers and suppliers to sell these products.

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