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NIH NATIONAL CHOLESTEROL EDUCATION PROGRAM

Executive Summary

NIH NATIONAL CHOLESTEROL EDUCATION PROGRAM is beginning to seek drug industry involvement in gearing up for expanded educational activities. The program's coordinating committee invited input from representatives of drug, medical device and food companies at a July 2 meeting in Bethesda, MD. Among the drug firms attending was Merck, whose Mevacor cholesterol-lowering drug is nearing approval. One focus of the meeting was increased physician education. Established in November 1985 by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, the cholesterol program is currently involved in an ongoing public service advertising campaign using radio, TV and print media. Ads developed by Doremus Porter Novelli are being distributed through state health departments under a campaign begun approximately one year ago. The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) focuses activities on professional and school-based education and worksite programs. The NCEP effort is modeled after the ongoing NIH National High Blood Pressure Education Program. The NCEP Coordinating Committee is made up of representatives of over 20 member organizations including medical associations, voluntary health organizations, community programs and federal agencies. Among them are the American Pharmaceutical Association, the American Medical Association, the American College of Cardiologists, FDA and the National Cancer Institute. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute cholesterol "awareness" surveys conducted in 1986 show that 64% of physicians and 72% of the public surveyed believe that lowering high blood cholesterol would have a significant effect in preventing heart disease, according to NCEP. The 1986 surveys were conducted as a follow-up to similar studies in 1983. Over 4,000 citizens and 1,277 physicians were surveyed last year. When compared to the earlier findings, results showed that 25% more physicians believed lowering cholesterol would have a significant effect on heart disease. Survey results were released in a recent NCEP "Director's Memo," issued by Claude Lenfant, MD, director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The NCEP coordinator is James Cleeman.
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