Ontario Podiatric Medical Association

Misinformation About Toenail and Foot Health


Onychomycosis remains an under-recognized and mistreated health condition.

EAST HANOVER, N.J., June 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- An estimated 35 million Americans have an active, live infection known as onychomycosis (fungal nail infection) underneath their toenails, but 90 percent of them don't even recognize the name of the infection, according to a new survey conducted by Roper Public Affairs. Further, more than half (57%) of those surveyed who have the condition believe that over-the-counter (OTC) medications will treat the symptoms adequately, despite the fact that no over-the-counter treatment has been proven to effectively treat the infection, and no OTC treatment is approved for this use.

The survey, conducted in May 2004, which included more than 900 adults, also revealed that nearly nine in 10 consumers age 35 and older who have symptoms of fungal nail infection (87%) recognize that changes in their toenails indicate a health problem, but nearly one-fourth (24%) have waited a year or more before doing anything about it and nearly one-third (32%) say they have not sought treatment yet. The condition also has a psychological and
emotional impact: nearly two-thirds (61%) of those with onychomycosis would feel better about themselves if they had healthy looking nails. More striking is that seven of ten (70%) of adults surveyed say their doctor has never discussed proper foot care with them.

"From this survey, we see that people delay or don't seek treatment for onychomycosis. However, left untreated nail fungal infection will not go away and may become worse, painful, or spread to other nails," said Warren Joseph, DPM, attending podiatrist at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Coatesville, Pennsylvania and an expert in lower extremity infectious diseases. "Upon noticing changes in nail color or thickness, people should see a physician and ask for treatment -- only prescription medication is proven to effectively treat onychomycosis."

The condition runs in families and some people are predisposed to
infection. Additionally, the fungus that primarily causes onychomycosis can spread from foot to foot on the floors of showers and locker rooms. People with onychomycosis may unknowingly spread the fungus to others, due to behaviors such as walking barefoot -- a common practice among survey respondents. Indeed a vast majority (76%) walk barefoot fairly frequently around their home, and over 51 percent walk barefoot when taking a shower at a club, gym or other public places.

The survey was sponsored by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.

Onychomycosis, or fungal nail infection, is characterized by thick, flaky or discolored nails. It is primarily caused by dermatophytes, or living fungi, which live in many common places such as locker rooms, around swimming pools, showers, gardens; and on unsterilized manicure or pedicure tools that have been used on others with the infection. Dermatophytes are also responsible for other fungal infections such as tinea capitis (scalp), tinea corporis (body), tinea cruris (groin) and tinea pedis (athlete's foot). Most fungal nail infections are caused when the fungus gets under the nail following an injury. The infection is more common under the toenails, where the condition is preceded by athlete's foot. Once infected, the nail separates from the nail bed, becomes increasingly brittle and crumbles away. Since risk increases as people age, onychomycosis is more common in the elderly. Hence, onychomycosis is likely to become increasingly common as a growing proportion of the population survives into old age. People with diabetes or AIDS are more likely to develop onychomycosis, which can lead to more severe complications in these populations. People with diabetes may have increased risk for secondary bacterial infections, which can, in turn, lead to gangrene and foot ulcers.

Lamisil Tablets are a highly effective treatment for mild to severe fungal nail infection and are the most prescribed treatment for fungal nail infection worldwide. Healthcare professionals have prescribed Lamisil Tablets to more than 14 million people in the U.S.

Lamisil (terbinafine hydrochloride) Tablets are indicated for the treatment of onychomycosis of the toenail or fingernail due to dermatophytes (tinea unguium). Lamisil Tablets aren't for people with liver or kidney problems. Rarely, serious side effects in the liver or serious skin reactions have occurred, so doctors may do a simple blood test to check for liver problems. Other side effects including headache, diarrhea, indigestion and rash were generally mild. For more information about onychomycosis and treatment including full prescribing information, visit:

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation researches, develops, manufactures and markets leading innovative prescription drugs used to treat a number of diseases and conditions, including central nervous disorders, organ transplantation, cardiovascular diseases, dermatological diseases, respiratory disorders, cancer and arthritis. The company's mission is to improve people's lives by pioneering novel healthcare solutions.

Located in East Hanover, New Jersey, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation is an affiliate of Novartis AG. Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS) is a world leader in pharmaceuticals and consumer health. In 2003, the Group's businesses achieved sales of USD 24.9 billion and a net income of USD 5.0 billion. The Group invested approximately USD 3.8 billion in R&D. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ about 78,500 people and operate in over 140 countries around the world. For further information please consult http://web.archive.org/web/20041016090228/http://www.novartis.com/.

For more information and for a copy of the complete prescribing
information, please contact:

Kate King, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation
Office: 862 778 5588

Joseph Guarino, Ruder Finn
Office: 212-715-1654

Investor Relations
Jill Pozarek, Novartis Corporation
Office: 212 830 2445

SOURCE Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation

June 28, 2004

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