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Lactagen was a nutritional supplement produced by Ritter Pharmaceuticals that claimed to reduce the symptoms of lactose intolerance. As of 2011, Ritter Pharmaceuticals ceased sales of Lactagen and other dietary supplements.
Symptoms said to be relieved include bloating, gas, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping which are associated with the symptoms of lactose intolerance. Lactagen is a powder ingested with water or juice in increasing amounts for a period of 38 days. The manufacturer claims that the mixture of prebiotics and probiotics will relieve all symptoms permanently for 8 out of 10 users. Gastroenterologists suggest that Lactagen can relieve symptoms of lactose intolerance, but relief may not be permanent.
Since Lactagen is a natural dietary supplement, it is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Claims of effectiveness are therefore not evaluated by the agency, however, the company may not claim that the product cures or prevents any disease.
Ritter Pharmaceuticals president and founder Andrew Ritter created a lactose intolerance treatment in 1997 as a project for the California State Science Fair. A lactose intolerant individual himself, Ritter collaborated with doctors and researchers to create a product to help individuals better tolerate lactose. In 2004, Ritter created Lactagen and began selling it commercially under the company name Ritter Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Lactose intolerance (“LI”) is a widespread condition affecting over 1 billion people worldwide. Approximately 40 million Americans (or 15% of the US population) suffer from lactose intolerance, with an estimated 9 million of those individuals demonstrating moderate and severe symptoms. Lactose intolerance is caused by a lack of the naturally produced enzyme lactase in the stomach. Lactose intolerance is exemplified by the inability to tolerate and fully digest dairy products, such as milk, ice cream, cheese and pizza. Symptoms may include a painful combination of digestive discomfort, including gas, cramping, bloating or diarrhea.
In a clinical study conducted by Ritter Pharmaceuticals former board member Chris Landon, M.D., Lactagen showed a statistically significant reduction in lactose intolerance symptoms among sixty-subjects in a double-blind clinical trial at the Ventura County Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. Specifically, 79% of subjects on Lactagen reported a substantial reduction of lactose intolerant symptoms after completion of the 38-day program, while those on a placebo showed little or no reduction in symptoms. The abstract from the study was published in FASEB Journal in 2006.
At the National Institute of Health Consensus Development Conference on Lactose Intolerance and Health, experts stated that strategies such as colonic adaptation have intriguing preliminary data and may be useful for individuals with lactose intolerance, although additional research needs to be completed in the area.
A study on colonic adaptation, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concluded there is colonic adaptation to regular lactose ingestion. This related adaption reduces lactose intolerance symptoms.
In an interview with the Washington Post, gastroenterologist Theodore Bayless of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine suggested that such a course can relieve symptoms of lactose intolerance, but the relief would not be permanent, particularly if the user were to take antibiotics at a later date.
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