A Brief History of Medical Food

History lesson medical food concept

Medical food is a relatively modern healthcare term, with a history that begins in the United States in the mid 20th century. These days, the use of medical food for patients is very common, offering improved healing for issues ranging from surgical recovery to cancer treatment. Ricochet Nutrition is proud to be a leader in advanced immunonutrient and medical food products in the 21st century. In today’s blog, we look back at the history of medical food.

History of Medical Food – The Origins of the Idea

Medical foods originated in the 1940s. Then, formulations of nutritious ingredients were made to provide elderly patients with healthy food that could be easily swallowed and digested. It helped prolong life and slow the progress of age-related illness.

Medical Food was popularized soon after during the 1960s, as special formulations were created to provide key nutrients for babies and infants. This was the first instance of commercially available Medical Food in the United States. However, the term “medical food” was not yet officially defined and classified, but the usefulness of these products created an important marketplace for nutrient-rich foods that could benefit those who were infirm or ill.

History of Medical Food – Definition and Classification

In 1972, the United States Food and Drug Administration officially recognized this new class of medical foods, providing an official classification as “foods for special dietary use”. This opened the door for broader commercial production of medical foods for use by many Americans suffering from illnesses.

The Orphan Drug Act, originally entered into law in 1973, was designed to provide incentives and resources for the development of “orphan drugs”. Orphan drug is a term used to define drugs that are not profitable enough for private pharmaceutical companies to manufacture. Therefore, they were “orphaned”, even though the drug is highly beneficial to medical patients in the United States. This was an important step for medical food. Even though it was not profitable at the time, producing it for the elderly, infants, and those suffering chronic health issues was extremely important for the health of these vulnerable groups.

The 1988 Orphan Drug Amendment to the Orphan Drug Act provided a more precise definition of Medical Foods, as follows: “a food which is formulated to be consumed or administered enterally under the supervision of a physician and which is intended for the specific dietary management of a disease or condition for which distinctive nutritional requirements, based on recognized scientific principles, are established by medical evaluation”.

This definition created a clear classification for future developments in specially formulated nutrition products, benefitting countless patients with numerous health issues. From this point on, pioneering companies like Ricochet Nutrition were able to successfully market medical foods and make a difference in the lives of patients across the country.

Ricochet Nutrition Delivers the Future 

When it comes to advanced medical food products, Ricochet Nutrition has what you need. Contact us for more information and to order our products.

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