News Release

March 1, 2004

Contact: Kristina Goodnough, 860-679-3700
e-mail: goodnough@nso.uchc.edu

At Last, Some Real Help for the Common Cold

Study Finds Natural Product Reduces Chances of Cold and Flu by 89%

FARMINGTON, CONN. - A Canadian natural product derived from ginseng significantly helped seniors avoid a cold or flu, according to a study conducted by Janet McElhaney, M.D., Center for Immunotherapy of Cancer and Infectious Diseases at UConn Health Center, and published in the January Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The supplement, called COLD-fX, is manufactured by CV Technologies of Edmonton, Alberta. It was given to seniors in three nursing homes during two separate flu seasons and reduced their risk of getting a cold or the flu by 89 percent, according to the study.

“Despite influenza and pneumoccoccal vaccination rates exceeding 65 percent, influenza and pneumonia together represent the fourth-leading cause of death for older adults and are estimated to cause 172,000 excess hospital admissions annually and as many as 40,000 excess influenza deaths, at a cost of $10 billion in the United States alone,” according to the study.

Natural and herbal supplements have been available over-the-counter for years and sales have been increasing exponentially. Few of these natural supplements have been subjected to rigorous scientific study because their production and manufacture is usually not standardized. “It’s difficult to design clinical trials around products that are not manufactured uniformly,” says McElhaney.

CV Technologies’ proprietary North American ginseng extract, COLD-fX, which is marketed over-the-counter for preventing and treating colds, is standardized through a patented process called ChemBioPrint that precisely identifies the chemical profile and biological activity of the product and, according to the company, allows the isolation of the therapeutic-targeted chemicals and the exclusion of undesirable chemicals that could potentially cause unwanted side effects. “We were able to study this product because of its batch-to-batch consistency, “ says McElhaney. It is one of the few dietary supplements cleared by the Food and Drug Administration as an investigational new drug for the conduct of a phase II clinical trial.

Study participants, who were aged 60 and older and living in an assisted-living or nursing home, were given either the ginseng extract or a placebo twice a day for an eight-week period during the winter of 2000 and for a 12-week period during the winter of 2000-2001. They were monitored for cold and flu symptoms through face-to-face visits twice a week. The volunteers taking the ginseng product had 89 percent fewer incidences of cold or flu symptoms than the volunteers taking the placebo.

“We believe the discovery of COLD-fX is a breakthrough in the search for something to prevent and treat colds,” says company President and CEO Jacqueline Shan. “This study and others have proved that it reduces the risk of getting a cold or flu by 89 percent, and if by chance, you get a cold, it will help you get better faster.” The company hopes the product will be one of the first nutraceuticals to be registered under Canada’s new stringent regulation of natural health products, which became law last month.

COLD-fX has long been popular with professional hockey players throughout North American. McElhaney studied its use among hockey players and found it potentially alters the levels of immune messengers in the blood and helped reduce colds.

“Vaccination remains the mainstay of prophylaxis against the complications of influenza illness in older adults, but particularly in institutionalized older adults, protection is often incomplete,” the study reports. Older antiviral drugs can control outbreaks of flu, but they have side effects and people taking them develop resistance, according to the study. Newer antiviral drugs avoid those limitations, but their cost is a barrier to their use in institutional setting.

“The study suggests that COLD-fX may provide a safe and effective means of preventing colds and flu in the institutional setting, where the risk of these illnesses is highest,” says McElhaney.

The product is widely available in Canada in pharmacies and in health food stores. It is not yet available in the United States, but it can be obtained through the company’s website, www.coldfx.com.

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