Sunday, February 21, 2010
Making Vitamins Too Costly for Your Health
By Alan Caruba
At age 72 I have been taking a full range of vitamin and mineral supplements for years. Even I find it amusing to open more than a dozen bottles every morning to extract vitamins A, B, C, D and E, along with zinc, potassium, selenium, and fish oil. On the advice of my physician long ago, I also take a low dose aspirin every day. I also take some herbal supplements.
In early January I fell and broke my collar bone. A month later it was completely healed. I don’t get the common cold, although I do experience seasonal allergies that are controlled with anti-histamine. In sum, I am as healthy as a person of my age can hope to be.
So why have Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) joined to introduce an amendment to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act that would deny freedom of easy access to these vitamins and minerals that are now commonly available in supermarkets, pharmacies and other outlets at affordable prices?
Why would they conspire to make dietary supplements such as purified fish oil seven times more expensive than it is today?
It is irrational, not to say obscene, at a time when a debate is raging over the costs of Medicare and the various illnesses that afflict Americans to introduce a law that would raise the cost of vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements that are among the best forms of preventative medicine available to the general public.
Who, ultimately, will benefit from such a law? The answer is the pharmaceutical companies. Dr. Steven Joyal, M.D., vice president of science and medical affairs of the Life Extension Foundation, says “This bill aims to further pharmaceutical profits by creating wide-ranging, unprecedented FDA power to reclassify natural nutritional products as drugs.”
I am a free market capitalist, but I also know that many companies engage in “rent seeking”, a term to describe how they use the ability of Congress to pass laws and regulations that improperly and unfairly increase their profits.
The bill, titled that “Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010” is a classic example of how an ever-expanding federal government continues to get between Americans and the freedoms they have come to take for granted. High on the list is the freedom to maintain one’s health; in this case with affordable and easily accessible vitamins and minerals.
The “Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010” has nothing to do with freedom and everything to do with increasing the profits of pharmaceutical companies. It does not enhance safety because vitamins and mineral supplements are already manufactured under some of the most stringent restrictions placed on any products sold anywhere in the world.
My friend, Frank Murray, is the author of nearly 50 books on health and nutrition. He is the former editor of Better Nutrition, GreatLife, and Let’s Live magazines. His books have documented how various vitamins and minerals, as well as herbal supplements have preventative and curative affects on a wide range of ailments and afflictions.
His latest book, “Sunshine and Vitamin D” describes the research concerning this vitamin’s ability to reduce or ameliorate cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and a host of other ailments. And that is just one common vitamin!
It is astonishing how vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements can aid the body to resist the many pathogens in our environment, to digest the food we eat, and to enhance many of our mental and physical abilities.
This latest bill in Congress should be defeated. Its two sponsors should be held up to scrutiny to determine how great a role the donations of pharmaceutical companies to their election campaigns played in the drafting and introduction of this bill.
There is not enough scorn that can be heaped upon the bill’s sponsors and any member of Congress that votes for it.
I don’t want and I don’t need a doctor’s prescription to purchase the vitamins and minerals I take daily. Neither do you!
(c)Alan Caruba, 2010