The United States Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, is trying to drive large numbers of natural supplements out of the market. Recent news articles indicate that the FDA and its allies in the pharmaceutical industry are trying to label many supplements as “drugs” so that they can be banned.
The FDA’s new strategy for banning supplements is to analyze them in a laboratory to see if they resemble patented pharmaceutical drugs. If the supplements contain ingredients similar to the drugs, the FDA declares them drugs and bans them.
In many cases, manufacturers have to pull the supplements from the market because they don’t have the resources to fight the FDA. These are small companies, sometimes mom and pop operations; they don’t have lobbyists in Washington and big law firms on their side.
FDA Declares War on Supplements
The latest supplement hit is something called Rock-It-Man, a male enhancement product that promises results similar to Viagra. The FDA has banned Rock-It-Man because its scientists found that an active ingredient in it resembled sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra. Rock-It-Man did not actually contain a pharmaceutical; it resembled one, so it was banned.
Basically, federal law gives the FDA jurisdiction over drugs but not supplements. If the FDA can label supplements drugs, it can ban them. The idea here is to drive any alternative to pharmaceuticals off the shelves.
Public Safety or Pharmaceutical Profits
Drugs like Rock-It-Man are a direct threat to Viagra, which is manufactured and marketed by the giant, publicly-traded pharmaceutical house Pfizer. Pfizer made $284 million from Viagra sales in the second quarter of 2013. Its profits have been falling because of competition from generic versions of Viagra.
Get the picture here; the FDA is cracking down on alternatives to highly successful commercial drugs. The Chicago Times reported that Rock-It-Man is one of several male enhancement products that the FDA is trying to drive out of the market.
The agency claims it is acting in public safety, but driving such supplements underground or to the black market hurts public safety. One has to wonder who is really pulling the FDA’s strings; perhaps big pharmaceutical houses like Pfizer.
It is also interesting to note that the crackdown on “male-enhancement supplements” comes at a time when Pfizer has started selling Viagra directly to men online. The FDA seems to be deliberately targeting and shutting down competitors to a major pharmaceutical house. Worse, it is increasing the market for Pfizer’s blue pills by eliminating competitors selling cheaper natural supplements.
The problem is that the war on supplements extends far beyond so called male enhancement products (cures for impotence). The agency is trying to pull the plug on some other popular products as well.
Another Natural Supplement Banned
The FDA has effectively stopped the sales of Trans-D Tropin, a supplement that promotes the production of human growth hormones. The supplement’s manufacturer decided to pull the drug off the market in May because it cannot afford a legal battle with the FDA over Trans-D Tropin. The FDA used its resources to intimidate a small manufacturer and force it out of the business.
Trans-D Tropin has been on the market for 15 years and has had no significant safety problems reported with it. In fact, for years the FDA labeled Trans-D Tropin a harmless cosmetic and simply ignored it. Yet the agency suddenly changed its mind and decided to reclassify Trans-D Tropin as a drug.
Also targeted are supplements that are supposed to help people suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. Last year the FDA sent “warning letters” to Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, who markets a wide variety of supplements for such products through websites and Facebook pages.
In its letter, the FDA stated that it didn’t like the idea of people self-diagnosing problems. This is the same agency that lets Pfizer sell Viagra directly online and has no problem with allergy medicines like Allegra being sold over the counter at Wal-Mart.
Driving Natural Alternatives off the Market
It sounds as if what the FDA really has a problem with is that there might be alternatives to the products of the pharmaceutical industry. The FDA doesn’t mind consumers buying drugs, but it doesn’t want any sort of natural alternative on the market.
In its letter to Dr. Teitelbaum, the FDA objected to his statement that fish oil could be used as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and depression. Basically, the FDA is complaining that Teitelbaum pointed out that fish oil, which some people think can enhance the growth of brain cells, could help with mental illness. In other words, it might be an alternative to psychiatric drugs like Prozac, which are a major profit center for pharmaceutical houses.
Recent research has shown that many mental problems are caused by brain damage or injuries. If taking fish oil, which contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids that might encourage brain cell growth and can help the brain heal naturally, people won’t need Prozac.
Get the picture here; supplements that could be effective competitors to profitable pharmaceuticals are suddenly being analyzed and banned as a threat to public safety. The FDA has adopted a new agenda of targeting supplements that threaten the pharmaceutical industry.
The agency wants to give commercial pharmaceutical houses and pharmacies a complete monopoly on healthcare in the United States. This course of action would increase its power, but it would also increase pharmaceutical companies’ profits.
Will Supplements Go Away?
It might be a good idea to stock up on your favorite natural supplements. They might not be available or only available on the black market if the FDA gets its way. After supplements, what other products are next?
Will the FDA start targeting natural food or, worse, doctors that prescribe exercise or a better diet rather than push pills on the public? The FDA is the same agency that allows big agribusiness to fill supermarkets with genetically modified and other potentially dangerous foods. It has also allowed the pharmaceutical industry to sell dangerous drugs to the public.
It is time for an investigation of the FDA and its relationship with drug companies. Policies that benefit a few giant corporations while destroying mom and pop companies indicate a serious conflict of interest that could threaten our health and free enterprise.