For the third year running, GlaxoSmithKline's Os-Cal calcium supplement has topped the list of products recommended by US pharmacists.
The company said that Os-Cal was voted the number one product in the 2001 Survey of Pharmacist Recommendations conducted by Pharmacy Times, a leading medical journal that provides practical clinical information to over 150,000 pharmacists. Its yearly survey includes 100 categories and over 1,000 OTC products.
Jeff Brown, vice president of marketing at Os-Cal, said: "We are pleased that pharmacists across the country recognise the attributes of Os-Cal to help consumers build bone mass and help prevent osteoporosis. Os-Cal is also the number one calcium supplement preferred by doctors of internal medicine for women at risk for osteoporosis and is clinically proven effective to help maintain bone mass in more studies than any other calcium supplement brand."
Brown cited a calcium study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2001 which compared the absorption and cost-effectiveness of single doses (500 mg) of commercially-available Os-Cal calcium carbonate and Citracal calcium citrate, a rival brand produced by Mission Pharmacal, in 24 postmenopausal women. Subjects also received single dose encapsulated calcium carbonate and no-load blanks (placebos).
To eliminate any variability in absorptive performance due to vitamin D insufficiency, all subjects were given a vitamin D supplement starting one week before the first test and continuing throughout the study. The researchers evaluated the efficiency of absorption or bioavailability, analysing serum and urine calcium over a 24-hour period and concluded that both calcium supplements were absorbed equally, and therefore had equivalent bioavailability.
But, Brown said, the authors also calculated that Citracal cost between 1.5 and 1.8 times as much as Os-Cal per gram of elemental calcium, and estimated that treating all people 65 years or older with Os-Cal could yield net savings of up to $478 million in annual health care costs. Because of its higher cost, there were no savings if Citracal supplements were used in place of Os-Cal, Brown claimed.