• News Media Beats Drum Against Dietary Supplements Again

    Posted November 24, 2013: by Bill Sardi

    A parade of anti-dietary supplement news reports are being aired in what appears to be another orchestrated effort to unfairly demean natural health products that are safer than tap water, table salt and aspirin.

    The hidden agenda appears to be an effort to soften the public’s support for dietary supplements so they can be over-regulated by the Food & Drug Administration, negating the Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act of 1994 that kept dietary supplements from being classified as drugs.  The FDA has been trying to do that since the 1970s.

    At this very time the FDA keeps pressing for dietary supplements to conduct some of the same toxicity testing performed to achieve drug approval.  But precisely what would the purpose be for such testing?  Dietary supplements are far safer than synthetically made prescription drugs that do undergo all that testing.  The cost of such testing would drive many natural products off the market and raise the cost of others and create a barrier to entry for new products.

    These news reports continue to air tired and already rebutted arguments against dietary supplements, such as:

    Supplements are tainted – a recent report said many supplements are laced with fillers.  Yes, so are drugs.  Tablets have binding and release agents.  Capsules need natural fillers when their contents don’t fully fill their shell.  Yes, even some herbals were found to be completely different herbs than their label claimed, but so far little or no harm has come of this, though there is no excuse for this to continue.

    Supplements are not proven.  Ah yes, this is an entrapment argument.  If a dietary supplement has at least two independent published studies that demonstrate efficacy, a health claim can be made for that product.  But if so, then it is declared a drug by the FDA.  So categorically, it cannot be said that any dietary supplement is proven.  And the false assumption is that these published studies ensure safety.  They don’t.  Many drugs are removed from the marketplace years after they gained FDA approval.  Properly prescribed prescription drugs kill thousands every year.  Some newly approved drugs are not safer than existing drugs.  But the FDA does not require drug companies to prove their products are better than existing remedies.

    Supplements are not regulated.  Title 21 of the Federal Register describes many regulations imposed upon dietary supplements makers including labeling and good manufacturing practices (GMP).  For years the FDA demeaned the supplement industry for lack of quality when it hadn’t penned GMP regulations for the industry to follow.

    Supplements are not needed- the diet is sufficient.  This falsehood keeps getting into print despite evidence to the contrary.  The National Institutes of Health campaign to consume 5 servings of plant food a day did not reduce the risk for cancer or heart disease.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture even publishes a chart showing most Americans do not consume adequate amounts of essential nutrients.  Yet the false claim keeps being made, over and over, that the diet is sufficient, supplements are not needed.

    Seemingly negative studies involving dietary supplements provide no instruction for individuals. Large population studies have no bearing on advice to individuals. But they are cited again and again by mindless news reporters.  These large studies are conducted to develop policy like for fortifying foods. The data these studies provide cannot be used to make individual health decisions unless you know what your vitamin status is.

    For example, if a study says vitamin E is of worthless value as shown in a large group of people, that isn’t instructive to the person who may be deficient in vitamin E. Studies often divide their patients into quintiles (five groups) arranged by increasing intake of a particular vitamin. While the study may indicate vitamin E was of no benefit overall, it may have afforded a benefit to the group with the lowest intake of vitamin E.

    As drug patents expire, Big Pharma wants to get its hands on dietary supplements.  Patents on billions of dollars of prescription drugs will expire over the next three years.  Pharmaceutical companies are fully aware the biological action of many of their drugs are duplicated by dietary supplements at far less cost and side effects.  If there were a free market for dietary supplements, they would be found to be far safer and effective than prescription drugs.  Americans need to continue to fight for their freedom to use dietary supplements.  If supplements are turned into drugs, they will be far more costly.

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