Integrating Herbs and Supplements in Managed Care 2008

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Integrating Herbs and Supplements in Managed Care 2008

Elder C, Mossbrucker P, Davino-Ramaya CM, et al. Integrating Herbs and Supplements in Managed Care: A Pharmacy Perspective. Permanente J 2008 Summer;12(3):53-58.

Herbal and other dietary supplements are popular among patients. Whether and how to establish and manage an herbal formulary remains a challenge for conventional managed-care organizations. Pharmacists and clinicians depend on evidence-based guidelines to help determine which products (whether pharmaceutical or herbal) to make available to patients. Evidence from randomized controlled trials that supports the use of most herbal supplements is scarce, yet for some supplements, credible evidence supports the possibility of efficacy. Quality control remains of concern for the supplement industry and for patients and clinicians considering the use of supplements.
Clinicians may improve care by both disseminating educational materials and making available to patients popular quality-controlled herbal supplements deemed safe and effective. Kaiser Permanente Northwest (KPNW) has adopted a comprehensive and systematic approach to managing and stocking herbal supplements that can serve as a model for other conventional and managed care organizations. KPNW’s dedicated Natural Products Advisory Committee (NPAC) has made considerable progress toward developing a constructive response to KPNW patients’ herbal supplement use. Making supplements available at pharmacies can improve clinical outcomes, patient convenience, and quality control. NPAC currently limits its reviews to randomized, controlled trials and data from meta-analyses and systematic reviews for single-ingredient supplements. As interest in this area maintains steady growth, NPAC will continue to study how best to meet patients’ needs.