Well, according to the FDA. Well, sort of, actually big pharmaceutical companies want to make Americans think that supplements are bad, new drugs, are GOOD! Even drugs that are being developed using the same technology that supplement companies have used to simplify the way the human body absorbs and metabolizes Vitamin B6. Medicure, one such big pharma company has petitioned the FDA to stop non pharma companies from using vitamin based technology. In their petition they ask:
"Pharmaceutical companies developing new drugs must be protected from
companies that may seek to market the ingredients in those drugs as
dietary supplements. The marketing of such products has the potential to
undermine the incentive for the development of new drugs because many
people may choose to purchase the supplements rather than the drugs."
I have talked about this in the past. I used to take coumadin, a compound that was used as a rat poison. It is a blood thinner. It has horriffic side effects. Now, newer drugs such as Plavix are on the market. Plavix reduced the risk of stroke in patients down to 6.78 per 100,000
people. Then, I found that taking one baby aspirin a day would drop the
risk of stroke to 6.97 per 100,000 people. Aspirin, a dime. Plavix, six bucks a pill. Yet, now that doctors are allowed to prescribe Plavix for anyone at risk for stroke or any blood clotting event, the money is just pouring in. A bunch of deaths and a few lawsuits are as well, but let's be realistic, they are just the cost of doing multi-billion dollar business.
Supplements though, they are a bit different from drugs. Most of them are natural. I mean I can go out to the desert and find plants called Mormon Tea that will provide me with a decent dose of epinephrine, which the FDA banned a few years ago. And that one probably was a good reason to ban, a lot of idiots out there looking for the "Magic Beans" for weight loss, sports performance, and just to get high, were overdosing on the purified stuff. But of course we know that never happens for prescription drugs, so banning was a good idea. The main part of the FDA program though is the threats that they are putting out there to vitamin and supplement manufacturers that claim certain health benefits from taking any specific vitamin or supplement. Anytime a manufacturer lists any benefit to a person taking their product, such as anti inflammatory, anti diahretic, anti anything, then the FDA considers that as a MEDICAL claim and supplements are not and cannot be considered medicines. Even though willow bark contains natural aspirin, and a whole list of other natural herbs and things are the actual basis of a number of modern drugs, suppliers of willow bark can't claim that it will relieve pain or reduce inflammation without invoking the MASSIVE ire of the regulatory agency that has been tasked with keeping Americans healthy.
The FDA has never actually had the welfare of plain old American citizens as part of their initiative for some time now. Big business has been the driving force for nearly all of policy decisions since the sixties. Back in 1958 director George P. Larrick, in a move heralded by the burgeoning agribusiness industry, instituted the program of GRAS. Generally Recognized As Safe. And on the list, he added cyclamates. The first of many additives that even with inadequate testing, were approved and placed on the GRAS list so that profits could be made. And George went on later to be a rather high paid CONSULTANT to agribusiness. The first of many to make the transition. And the list of poisons on the GRAS just keeps getting bigger as well. Aspartame, Canola, Erythritol, BHT, BHA, oh sheesh, a whole bunch of stuff that has been shown to not be healthy stuff. And the really fun part is that the GRAS list does not anywhere contain stevia. Stevia is that wonderful plant that tastes sweet, but has no sugar. For years, it could only be sold as a supplement, the FDA would not allow its use as a sweetener, and therefore any claims on the labeling of any stevia product was dealt with harshly by the FDA. However, now there are 4 separate steviol glycoside derivatives on the GRAS list for agribusiness to make money on. I believe that I have went over this before on this blog on the Truvia entry how the Coke patent for making their version of refined stevia has over 40 steps in it and uses some rather harsh chemicals (stevia substitute) and yet the same wonderful FDA that won't allow the word "Sweetener" on labels of unprocessed stevia leaves allows the term "ALL NATURAL" to be used on that horrific treasure trove of chemicals in the processed stevia.
There are going to be a lot of changes in the supplement business in the near future. The FDA is already cracking down and soon many other manufacturers will feel the full wrath the FDA will rain down on them for the simple act of trying to sell healthy products. Fruitfast, a company that markets Cherry juice, was COMMANDED by the FDA to stop producing their product, because they labeled it as helpful for gout, which it is. (Cherry)
Only a matter of time and there will not be any vitamins on the store shelves, nor supplements that aren't made by big pharma companies and the cost of these things that will probably contain all sorts of residues of dangerous chemicals will be exorbitant. And it will all be at the behest of the wonderful FDA helping big business make billions and billions, and keeping that revolving door of employment open so more and more heads of departments can get high paying jobs in big pharma and agribusiness. All bow to the almighty buck.