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Efforts are needed to tap into the potential of nutraceuticals

February 13, 2018

A growing demand exists for nutraceuticals, which seem to reside in the grey area between pharmaceuticals and food. The products are thought to provide medical or health benefits "beyond the diet, but before the drugs". A new review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology looks at the potential of nutraceuticals, stressing the need for a proper definition of nutraceuticals and clear regulations to ensure their safety.

In the review article, a team led by Ettore Novellino, PhD and Antonello Santini, PhD, of the University of Napoli Federico II in Italy, states that nutraceuticals with proven efficacy and health benefits substantiated by clinical data could be used as powerful tools to prevent and treat medical conditions, especially in individuals who may not yet be eligible for conventional pharmaceutical drugs. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to have a proper and unequivocal definition of nutraceuticals, to conduct clinical studies on their safety and efficacy, and to have standardized regulations for their use. In addition, nutraceuticals require a specific classification apart from food supplements and pharmaceuticals.

The authors propose the following definition for nutraceuticals: the phytocomplex of a vegetable or the pool of secondary metabolites from an animal. Both are concentrated and administered in a pharmaceutical form and are capable of providing beneficial health effects, including the prevention and/or treatment of a disease.

"Nutraceuticals, in the collective imagination of the consumer, tend to be confused and wrongly identified with many other products available on the market on the basis of potential health benefits," said Dr. Novellino. "An evaluation of the safety, the mechanism of action, and the effectiveness of nutraceuticals--and substantiating this with clinical data--is the central point that differentiates nutraceuticals from food supplements."

Dr. Santini added that the growing demand and interest in nutraceuticals justifies the need for a restructuring of the entire regulatory framework that differentiates nutraceuticals from food supplements. "We propose a regulatory system that is similar to the one used for drugs, which is more rigorous and more complex than the one commonly accepted for food supplements," he said. "It is important for consumer protection that national authorities and regulatory agencies require manufacturers to provide data to support any claim in the labels of products when the term nutraceutical is used."
-end-
Full citation: "Nutraceuticals: opening the debate for a regulatory framework." Antonello Santini, Silvia Miriam Cammarata, Giacomo Capone, Angela Ianaro, Giancarlo Tenore, Luca Pani, and Ettore Novellino. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. Published Online: February 13, 2018, DOI: 10.1111/bcp.13496.

URL Upon Publication: http://doi.wiley.com/10.1111/bcp.13496

Author Contact: To arrange an interview with the author, please contact Prof. Antonello Santini at asantini@unina.it or 0039 81 2539317.

About the Journal: The British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology has the primary goal of publishing high quality research papers on all aspects of drug action in humans. The journal has a wide readership, bridging the medical profession, clinical research and the pharmaceutical industry, and is published monthly. It is owned by the British Pharmacological Society and published by Wiley. The journal's current Impact Factor is 3.83 (Thomson Reuters Science Citation Index).

About The British Pharmacological Society

The British Pharmacological Society is a charity with a mission to promote and advance the whole spectrum of pharmacology. Founded in 1931, it is now a global community at the heart of pharmacology, with over 3,500 members from more than 60 countries worldwide. The Society leads the way in the research and application of pharmacology around the world through its scientific meetings, educational resources and peer-reviewed journals: the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Pharmacology Research & Perspectives, and the British Journal of Pharmacology, which includes the Concise Guide to PHARMACOLOGY, featuring open access overviews of the key properties of over 1,700 human therapeutic targets and their drugs, and links to http://www.guidetopharmacology.org.

Press Office: T. +44 (0) 207 239 0180 E. nick.courtney@bps.ac.uk

About Wiley

Wiley, a global research and learning company, helps people and organizations develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. Our online scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly journals, combined with our digital learning, assessment and certification solutions help universities, learned societies, businesses, governments and individuals increase the academic and professional impact of their work. For more than 210 years, we have delivered consistent performance to our stakeholders. The company's website can be accessed at http://www.wiley.com.

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