Are Medical Foods the Answer?
Honey and cinnamon have been found to reduce symptoms of arthritis, but more studies are needed.
By DAN REYNOLDS, senior editor of Risk and Insurance®
Tron Emptage, chief clinical officer of the Westerville, Ohio-based pharmacy benefits management company Progressive Medical, said Wednesday that he sees a future where the use of medical foods could lower the dependence on pharmaceuticals in workers' comp.
Lower dependence on drugs would eventually mean lower costs in treating workers with injuries. "I think it will help us reduce costs," said Emptage in a presentation at the 20th Annual National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo in Las Vegas.
For such issues as joint pain, chronic pain, insomnia, fatigue and depression, chemicals that some of us naturally lack, when ingested under the care of a physician, can produce positive results, according to some clinical studies.
Examples of medical foods include honey and cinnamon, which have been found to relieve symptoms of arthritis.
The problem, Emptage said, is that we need more studies, more reviews and more data on the potential impact medical foods can have to help reduce workers' dependence on more powerful and expensive drugs.
That's what Emptage was exhorting claims, workers' comp and disability managers, and others to push for.
Emptage, who has 18 years of experience in pharmaceutical and managed care, was careful to distinguish the physician dispensation of medical foods from some of the buzzwords that are nightmarish to pharmacy benefits managers, those words being compounding and repackaging.
"These are not compounds," Emptage said, in front of a conference audience that was leery of the possibility that physicians might use the dispensation of medical foods to jack up prices, just as we have seen in the physician dispensation of repackaged or compounded drugs.
Bruce Burnett, the director of medical education and scientific/regulatory affairs for Primus Pharmaceuticals, said his company is taking pains to distinguish itself from the negative implications that physician dispensation has created in pharmacy management in workers' comp.
Primus Pharmaceuticals develops Limbrel, a medical food that has proven effective in the treatment of osteoarthritis.
November 10, 2011
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