SDM vitamin manual assists Rx’ers – Shoppers Drug Mart’s Vitamin Reference Manual helps pharmacists answer customers’ questions – For the Pharmacist

SDM vitamin manual assists Rx’ers

WILLOWDALE, Ontario –To help its pharmacists answer customer’ questions about vitamin and mineral supplements, Shoppers Drug Mart has produced a Vitamin Reference Manual, distributed in November to all of its 637 pharmacies.

The manual, containing more than 175 pages, is strictly for pharmacists, not consumers, to use. It urges the pharmacist to “familiarize yourself with the contents so that you are ready with the answers” to a wide range of questions, from “What do specific vitamins and minerals do?” to “What is the difference between natural and synthetic vitamins?”

Each vitamin and mineral supplement in Shopper’ comprehensive private label program of nutritional supplements, under the chain’s Life Brand label, is discussed separately. There is also a section on Life health food supplements, such as brewers yeast, parsley and alfalfa.

Each supplement’s functions, food sources and toxicity are discussed, as are unsubstantiated claims. For instance, in the section on vitamin C, among unsubstantiated claims listed are, “useful in treatment and prevention of the common cold” and “prolongs life.” Other pertinent information is also provided: it’s noted, for example, that smoking increases consumption of vitamin C, so smokers of more than 20 cigarettes a day require a specified additional amount of the vitamin.

A handy checklist accompanies each product entry, indicating whether the item contains preservatives, sugar, alcohol and other elements and whether it can be used by persons on a special diet, such as sugar-free or sodium-reduced. All entries include basic information on usage, appearance, code numbers and the like, plus a sample of the product’s actual label.

For quick lookup, there is also a summary chart on the functions, food sources and toxicity of each vitamin and mineral.

Preceding the sections on specific supplements are short chapters that discuss:

* Vitamin interactions.

* Relationships between specific drugs and nutrients.

* Changing nutritional needs at various life stages, including needs of infants> preschoolers> schoolchildren and adolescents> men> women, as affected by pregnancy, lactation, premenstrual syndrome, birth control pills and other factors> and the elderly.

* Nutritional implications of various life styles, for example, of vegetarians, athletes, smokers, alcoholics.

* Proper storage of supplments.

* Natural vs. synthetic supplements.

* The benefits of time-release and buffered products.

* The reasons for multiple vitamin-mineral supplements.

Roman P. Niemy, president of Shoppers’ corporate brands division, said the chain asked its supplements supplier, Stanley Pharmaceuticals of Vancouver, B.C., to develop the manual. Stanley commissioned a nutritionist at the University of British Columbia to write and edit the material, which is in compliance with Canadian regulations. The manual’s format — a large three-ring notebook — makes inserting updated material easy, and pharmacies will receive revised pages periodically.

Niemy explained that Shoppers’ Life brand of vitamin and mineral supplements has the largest share of Canada’s supplements market and is considered a national brand, “by virtue of our size.” (According to parent Imaco’s 1989 annual report, Shoppers had a 33 percent share of the Canadian drug store market last year.)

He pointed out that in addition to customers’ questions, health care porfessionals sometimes call Shoppers pharmacists to ask about a supplement’s ingredients, for dietary or allergic implications.

The next step, he added, will be a comprehensive manual for pharmacists on all Life Brand OTCs.

COPYRIGHT 1991 Reproduced with permission of the copyright holder. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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