Medical food is consumed or enterally administered under the supervision of a physician for treatment of a disease or specific dietary management. Medical food is used for various purposes such as healthy aging, maintaining brain health, and for treating chronic medical conditions, irritable bowel syndrome, and metabolic disorders. Medical food mimics therapeutic agents used in the treatment of clinical conditions such as pain, sleep disorders, and cognitive disorders. It provides relief to pain or helps treat the condition without exhibiting any risk or side effects that are usually associated with the pharmaceutical drugs. Medical food products claiming treatment of such medical conditions or any other diseases are required to support their claim with proper scientific and clinical study results. Although medical food products do not require adherence to any particular labeling requirements, any false claims or misbranding may result in legal action by the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act (FD & C Act). Medical food varies in forms of dosage such as powders, pills, and solutions, which allows for wider availability and reach. Advancement in nutritional therapies is a result of robust support of medical food products and their wide variety of therapeutic applications, which, to a certain extent is expected to offset prescription drugs usage.
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Medical food, although a prescribed product, offers various advantages over prescription drugs such as lesser side effects, lower product costs, and nutritional benefits. Leveraging the preference for convenience food formats is expected to favor long-term growth of the medical food market. Besides, personalized medicine is a developing field, wherein the patient’s genetic makeup is used to guide the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases. Medical food is expected to gain a strong foothold in the personalized medicine sector. According to a report by Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Institute, in 2013, 70% of all chronic diseases were fundamentally the results of nutrition deficiencies or imbalances, in the U.S. Such nutrition-based etiologies could be directly addressed with the help of medical foods in the initial stages of diseases, preventing further loss. Thus, management of diseases by treating individual nutritional deficiencies, increases the demand for personalized medicines. The awareness regarding medical food and its benefits, among healthcare professionals and patients is critical for growth of the market.
North America is expected to hold a dominant position in the Rx medical food market over the forecast period, followed by Europe and Asia-Pacific
North America accounts for the largest share in the Rx medical food market, followed by Europe and Asia-pacific. The regulatory authorities in North America and Europe have clearly defined and distinguished the medical food category. Furthermore, medical food is also being regulated in Australia and New Zealand, under Food Standards Code 2.9.5. Asia-Pacific region holds major untapped market potential with strengthening regulations in the region. The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), U.S., the leading trade association for the dietary supplement and functional food industry, announced to explore and include medical food as part of its mission, in 2017. The CRN will provide a common platform for major players in the industry to work together towards the advancement of medical food and to increase awareness about medical food among healthcare practitioners and consumers. Nestlé has set out a US$ 500 Mn budget to support medical food research by 2021, which is expected to boost growth of the Rx medical food market over the forecast period.
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Some major players operating in the Rx medical food market are Abbott Laboratories, Danone, Mead Johnson & Company, LLC, Fresenius Kabi AG, Nestle, Primus Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Targeted Medical Pharma, Enzymotec ltd., AlfaSigma, and Pivotal Therapeutics.