Monday, March 15, 2010

Yes We Should Regulate Supplements

A letter to the editor appeared in the Monday Minot News crying about Sen. McCains bid to regulate the supplement industry. The author of this piece either has a vested interest in the supplement industry or doesn’t know the history and dangers of supplements. Sen. McCain’s Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010 is long overdue and should be applauded. The author of the letter brings up the 2003 report by physicians on deaths by prescription drugs. And that is true prescription drugs due cause deaths. However, the FDA regulates prescription drugs and medical science continually monitors drugs for side effects and deaths. It is a self correcting as is science. But the CAM industry does not, and would just as soon sweep any bad news under the rug, and at best just ignores scientific evidence. Unscientific evidence is antidotal and is known as poor, that is why in courts so called eye witness accounts have to be corroborated by other witnesses and hard evidence, scientific evidence. There is very little evidence about supplements because there is no recording or documentation of it. This is due to Sen. Orrin Hatch and Tom Harkins, both proponents of supplements and CAM. Hatch because in his state most of the supplements are made (and his son is a lobbyist for the supplement industry), and Harkins because he sells bee pollen cures to his colleagues in congress. Let us look at one product of the CAM/supplement industry that was taken off the market because many reports of problems forced the FDA to act.
FDA banned the sale of ephedra containing supplements on April 12, 2004. And it was upheld by the Tenth U.S. Court of Appeals in 2006. Why? Ephedra is found in mahuang tang, and many cold and flu cures sold by the supplement industry before then. The side effects are hypertension, headaches, insomnia, dehydration, high body temperatures, heart beat abnormalities, seizures, heart attacks and strokes. It is used as a base for the manufacture of methamphetamine. Metabolife received over 14,000 complaints about side effects from their ephedra containing products. Minn. Viking offensive lineman Korey Stringer died in 2001 secondary to complications from ephedra. Baltimore Oriole pitcher Steve Bechler died Feb 17, 2003 from complications related to ephedra. That is just one supplement. We don’t know how many or what kinds of complications or deaths from other supplements are occurring, because they are unregulated. And that is the doing of CAM/Supplement industry doesn’t want anyone looking over their shoulders. It is far better for them to decry the evils of prescription drugs and big pharma then to look at themselves. That is because that is big money to them. So cudos to Sen. John McCain in trying to get it regulated so no more people can be harmed.

Skeptical DoDo

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