Contact: Kristin R. Fayer [Searle)] (847) 470-6728 or Debbie Lobel [Edelman Worldwide] (312) 240-2703
Toll-Free Consumer "888-MY-CLOCK" Hotline and AMA Booklet Available
OCTOBER 14, 1996 Skokie, IL Time...it's always on our mind and sometimes on our side. This October 27, clocks will be turned back one hour in compliance with Daylight Savings Time, signaling the beginning of the seasonal change. And, while our alarm clocks and wrist watches may be ruled by this time change, most people are unaware that their bodies are governed by another type of "internal clock" that regulates everything from blood pressure to brain function.
Constantly ticking, the human body clock is a cornerstone in a growing science called "chronobiology," which tracks the distinct patterns of biological rhythms and their impact on common health conditions over time. The underlying mechanism, called the "circadian rhythm," has a profound effect on when certain diseases and disorders such as allergies, asthma and hypertension (high blood pressure) are likeliest to strike, or when their symptoms are most intense. Yet, when 1,011 consumers were asked in a recent study conducted by The Gallup Organization, the majority did not know when various chronic conditions were most likely to occur over the 24-hour day.
Many People Are Unable To Cite Correct Time of Symptom Onset
The majority (44 percent) of adults surveyed believe that afternoon is the time when a person is most likely to experience a rise in blood pressure, yet medical researchers have tracked a distinct circadian pattern that suggests that blood pressure climbs most rapidly in the morning around awakening. Although scientists have found that the "night belongs to asthma" and documented the greatest prevalence of asthmatic symptoms around 4 a.m., only 15 percent of consumers say that an asthma attack is most likely to occur overnight (between midnight and 6 a.m.).
When it comes to respiratory allergies, most people with hay fever suffer their worst symptoms of sneezing, stuffy nose and puffy eyes the first thing in the morning. The majority of respondents (37 percent) to the Gallup study claimed that afternoon was the most common period of the day for allergies to intensify. That was closely followed by another 34 percent of consumers who cited morning for allergy onset. Heart attack, another common incident with an early morning prevalence, received equally divided responses. About as many adults believe a heart attack is most likely to occur in the evening (28 percent) as believe it is likeliest to strike in the morning (26 percent). What may be more surprising is that even consumers diagnosed with the conditions posed in the survey were unable to specify when their symptoms were greatest, compared with the total polled population.
Consumers and Physicians Want More Chronotherapeutics
Although consumers often don't know exactly when common symptoms hit hardest, virtually all adults (92 percent) believe a medication designed to be effective when most needed that is, timed to release into the body when medical problems are most likely to occur would be "somewhat to very beneficial." In tracking the body clock's distinct variations of circadian rhythms throughout the day, month and year, a new approach to treatment called "chronotherapy" is fast emerging.
Michael Smolensky, Ph.D., professor of the University of Texas-Houston School of Public Health and director of the Hermann Center for Chronobiology and Chronotherapeutics in Houston, has been researching the science of chronotherapy for nearly three decades. "When it comes to taking a medication, when you take it can be as important as what you take. Since our bodies keep pace to an internal clock or predictable, 24-hour circadian patterns that influence a variety of functions it makes sense to synchronize the timing or delivery of medicines with the greatest levels of disease activity and symptom intensity. Taking the right medicine at the right time for your body and your illness can enhance a drug's effectiveness, reduce your risk of serious health problems and, in some cases, minimize unwanted side effects," he says.
Not only do consumers feel a need for more chronotherapeutic medications, doctors do, too. An earlier Gallup survey commissioned by the American Medical Association (AMA) conducted among a national sample of 320 general practitioners, family physicians and internists found that approximately three-quarters (77 percent) of doctors questioned said they wanted more treatment options to match a patient's circadian rhythms. Furthermore, the vast majority of physicians (85 percent) felt their patients should be educated about chronobiology. This closely parallels the 96 percent of consumers in the recent follow-up Gallup study who claimed they would be willing to seek more information about a chronotherapeutic medication.
Searle and AMA Respond to Demand with Free Educational Resources
To help physicians and the public meet the growing demand for more information on this intriguing new treatment approach, Searle the developer of the world's first chronotherapeutic medication to treat hypertension and angina, Covera- HS (verapamil hydrochloride) has joined forces with the AMA. A 24-hour, toll-free consumer hotline 1-888-MY-CLOCK sponsored by Searle as a public service is available to provide callers with more information on their personal body clocks. Searle will send consumers who call the around-the-clock, MY-CLOCK hotline free material on chronotherapy and the AMA will mail callers a complimentary educational booklet called "Taking Your Medication: A Question of Timing."
This AMA patient guide, co-authored by Dr. Smolensky, was funded through an unrestricted educational grant from Searle. It has been developed to help consumers understand the importance of timing medications to treat a wide variety of health conditions including cardiovascular, neurological, respiratory, inflammatory, and gastrointestinal diseases and disorders. The booklet discusses, in easy-to-read language, when most symptoms occur according to the body clock, how chronotherapy works, which medications have been specially designed as "chronotherapeutics," promising new research in chronotherapy, and how consumers can track the timing of their own symptoms using a "patient diary." Consumers and physicians can also visit a Searle-sponsored Web site http://www.chronotherapy.com for more information on chronobiology and chronotherapy.
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The survey results are based on telephone interviews with a national sample of 1,011 adults, 18 years of age or older, conducted by The Gallup Organization from August 12-19, 1996. For results based on samples of this size, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the error attributable to sampling and other random effects could be plus or minus three percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.
Please see accompanying complete prescribing information for Covera-HS.
Searle, a wholly owned subsidiary of Monsanto Company, is a research-based corporation that develops, manufacturers and markets pharmaceutical products and other healthcare solutions worldwide.
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