The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed restrictions on the use of nutritional supplements that may go into effect on October 1, 2011, unless sufficient opposition is offered. The plan is to classify supplements introduced after October, 1994, as “new dietary ingredients”, subject to expensive and prolonged testing and verification.
These restrictions would apply to resveratrol, GABA, ubiquinol, curcumin, and other products introduced in recent years, and make them no longer available to consumers, except at great expense.
Only wealthy pharmaceutical companies have the assets to undertake such testing and approval processes, which would cost in the tens of millions of dollars per item. The result would be to eliminate supplement manufacturers from competition, and raise the cost of these items astronomically. A supplement now available for $50 dollars would cost $250-$500. Some items would be financially out of reach for most people.
We have already seen this strategy in action. Patients have entered the office with bottles of omega 3 fatty acids and folic acid/B12 combinations, prescribed by physicians and obtained as pharmaceutical products, costing 5-10 times more than similar items made by reputable producers of supplements.
Several months ago, colchicine, a drug used to treat gout for a century, underwent a price increase from 8 cents to $7.50, per pill, when one pharmaceutical company utilized existing rules to manipulate its status to that of a new formulation, and restricted other companies from producing it. Complaints from physicians whose patients require colchicine daily to prevent recurrences of familial Mediterranean fever have fallen on deaf ears.
The cost of drugs only escalates. Cialis, a drug used to treat impotence, may now be obtained for $20 a pill.
Pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. now earn over $200 billion a year. They spend a lot of money on legal costs, including payouts to individuals who have been injured or killed by medications. Class action suits may yield rewards in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Nutritional supplements currently have a market of over $20 billion a year. Death or serious injury caused by a vitamin, mineral or amino acid is extremely rare. If the large pharmaceutical companies took over the manufacture of nutritional supplements, the automatic increase in charges could yield $100 billion a year. Additional marketing efforts, at which the pharmaceutical companies are expert, could raise this to $200 billion. Thus, by taking over the supplement industry and marketing benefits to the masses, they could double their income while reducing legal exposure. A CEO’s dream! And the government would accumulate additional billions in tax revenue, while the public pays.
Pharmaceutical companies already enjoy vast influence over government activities, emphasized by the fact that their obligatory payments finance the operation of the very agency that polices them, the FDA.
To protect your right to take supplements of your choice, without submitting to intolerable costs, mail, fax, or email a letter of protest to your US senators, members of Congress, and the FDA, BEFORE October 1. To obtain contact information, including phone numbers, for these individuals, visit the Alliance for Natural Health website: anh-usa.org.
Allan Sosin MD