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Australian Journal of Pharmacy : November 2006
nutrition Complementary medicines market report U SERS of complementary medicines are chiefly women aged 25 to 34 years who are educated and earn middle to higher incomes. That’s the findings of Australian research over the past two years by the Queensland Government, by Roy Morgan Research and a study by Alastair MacLennan, Stephen Myers and Anne Taylor based on the South Australian Health Omnibus Survey. Complementary medicines (CM)— vitamin, mineral, herbal, aromatherapy and homoeopathic supplements—are gaining in popularity, with at least three quarters of Australians saying they have taken at least one CM in the past year. The biggest mineral sellers are calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium. The big vitamin sellers are vitamin C, then multivitamins, B group vitamins, vitamin E, folic acid, antioxidant combinations and ß-carotene. The big herb sellers are garlic, Echinacea, horseradish, Ginkgo biloba, guarana, evening primrose, cranberry, valerian, St John’s wort, celery, soy bean and saw palmetto. The best-selling nutritional supplements were fish oil, glucosamine, probiotics, chondroitin and co-enzyme Q10 according to the Roy Morgan survey. Source:The Complementary Healthcare Council Of Australia FOUNDATION FACTS Tipaporn Kanjanarach MPH, Seán McAteer PhD, MRPharmS and Bernadette Mitchell, PhD Factors that influence community pharmacy practice about dietary supplements and complementary medicines D IETARY supplements and complementary medicines have become a significant component of alternative healthcare. However, there are no current standard guidelines available for pharmacists to use in advising customers on the selection and use of these products for specific health conditions. A recently published study, conducted by researchers at the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Pharmacy, aimed to explore the opinions and practices of community pharmacists in relation to dietary supplements and complementary medicines. Data was collected via individual in-depth interviews of ten community pharmacists from the Sydney metropolitan area. According to the pharmacists interviewed, the main reasons customers used these products were: • dissatisfaction with conventional medicines; • experimenting with alternative methods of treatment or prevention; • belief that natural products are ‘better’ or safer than conventional medicines; • confidence in products’ effectiveness; and • psychological reasons (for example, do not want to depend on doctor’s decision). Pharmacists expressed confidence in the health benefits of dietary supplements and complementary medicines. However, they felt that the benefit of most dietary supplements and complementary medicines was over-stated and that the 50 ? THE AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACY VOL.86 NOVEMBER 2006 products were less cost-effective compared with conventional medicines. Regarding adverse effects, they believed these products were not completely free from side effects and, therefore, monitoring for side effects was still essential. However, if administered properly, the side effects were milder than those which occurred from taking conventional medicines. Pharmacists’ view about most first-time buyers of dietary supplements and complementary medicines was that they had some information about the products before coming to pharmacy. ‘Most of them know what they want...they saw something on TV and they come and ask have you got it,’ one pharmacists said. The pharmacists interviewed also believed that the majority of first-time buyers of a particular supplement or complementary medicine asked the pharmacist or pharmacy assistant for advice on the product. The most frequently asked questions from the customers related to the effectiveness of the product and how to take the product. This research has been published in the International Journal of Pharmacy Practice(Kanjanarach T, Krass I, and Cumming R) 2006, Vol 14; pp123—128. The authors gratefully acknowledge the community pharmacists who participated in this study.