Tokyo Prefecture To Provide More Firsthand Information in Recognizing

Source: Health Industry Marketing News  June 9, 2005
The Fifth Special Committee on Health Foods was held on May 26th at the Metropolitan Government office. At the meeting, the results of the “Survey on Behavior of Medical Professionals towards ‘Health Foods’” were reported, stressing the importance of the medical professional’s role in dealing with “health foods”.

Based on the data from the survey, the Government of Tokyo discussed how medical professionals should get involved in dealing with “health foods”, and has concluded that roles include “advising patients for safe usage” and “preventing the increase of adverse events”. However, in order for these roles to be successfully carried out, a higher level of knowledge is required. The government is now considering providing more accurate firsthand information to support this objective.

Moreover, in order for medical professionals to be able to give necessary information to patients, the government regards systemization of role assignment among doctors, pharmacists, nutritionists, and nurses as important. With this type of systemization, the government believes that medical professionals can gather and share information, better grasp patients’ health foods intake information, and explain and guide patients more appropriately to prevent adverse events.

Since identifying the causality of adverse events is very difficult, it is essential to accumulate information and carry out scientific investigations. However, in most cases today, information on adverse or suspected events is not shared by the doctors. In fact, there were only 9 complaints involving health foods brought to the public health centers in Tokyo in 2004. Since it is considered urgent to have medical professionals recognize and understand the investigation system for adverse events and to always provide feedback to the information providers, the government regards building a mechanism for the gathering, sharing, and utilizing of information as a critical priority.

Furthermore, the committee carried out a “Survey on Awareness of the Media toward Airing Health Related Information” between March 15th and May 15th. Members of the committee noted that health information provided by the media has a strong influence on consumers and that the scientific facts of the provided information need to be clarified. Accordingly, the committee decided to carry out this particular survey to identify information gathering processes for certain TV programs. Programs typically retaining a high audience rating and providing health information based on foods were selected, and interview or questionnaire-based surveys were conducted with producers and directors of these programs. The results of the survey are just now being sorted out.

The sixth and the seventh Special Committee on Health Foods will be held in July and August respectively, and the proceedings will be reported in September.

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