This may seem irrelevant to some, but the following little article about
the coziness of the FDA with the $343 BILLION drug industry demonstrates
why its a bit crazy to think that our industry enjoys equal footing with
those who enforce the rules, and those who dertermine what the rules are.

FDA has become a servant of the drug industry

"For many years as a physician, I was under the mistaken belief that the FDA was an independent, almost sacrosanct federal agency, concerned only about the health and welfare of the citizens of the United States. Unfortunately this rose-colored glass impression seems to be fantasy.

In the May 19th edition of the prestigious medical journal Lancet, editor Richard Horton claims that the FDA has become a "servant of (the drug) industry." The editorial describes the inner dealings of the FDA with Glaxo-Smith-Kline regarding the release of Lotronex, a drug for irritable bowel syndrome. Lotronex was approved by the FDA last year but never approved by the European Medicines Evaluation Agency (apparently because of toxicity).

Despite multiple deaths from this drug, the FDA did not call for its withdrawal from the market, but rather just suggested adding a warning (about when to stop using the drug). FDA scientists felt it was unreasonable for either the patients or their doctors to judge any early warning sign complications from the drug. However, their concerns were dismissed by FDA officials.

The pharmaceutical company eventually withdrew the product from the United States on November 28th. The editorial accuses the FDA of receiving hundreds of millions of dollars of funding from the drug industry.

Unfortunately, this is only the most recent example of the FDA's failure to protect U.S. citizens from dangerous drugs. There are many other examples of the FDA approving drugs and, only after many deaths, finally admitting their mistakes. Another recent example was the diabetic drug Rezulin. Many people died of liver failure before the drug was removed from the market. Several months ago USA Today published research indicating that nearly 50% of the FDA executives come from the drug industry and/or go to work for the drug industry after their FDA tenure. They also reported that many of the doctors on the FDA advisory committees had ties to the drug industry.

Much can be learned from this.

First, we must lobby congress to force the FDA to change. There should be strict laws against any FDA employee or advisory member having any current or prior ties and/or compensation with the drug industry. They should also be prohibited from working for the drug industry for five years from the time their tenure ends at the FDA.

To reduce the risk of potential drug complications, as a general rule, I will not prescribe a newly approved medication (unless it is clearly a life-saving or a life-enhancing drug). I like to sit on the sidelines for a few months while the drug is being prescribed throughout the United States in order to determine if there are any reports of toxicity.

Keep in mind that before FDA approval, most drugs are tested with only a few hundred to a few thousand patients for a short period, although complications may not manifest until tens of thousands of patients have been on the drug for many years. Always question your doctor on the safety of drugs and potential side effects and interactions with other drugs.

Take responsibility for your own Health

If necessary, do independent research. The internet is always a good resource. Finally, always look for natural alternatives as a means to promote optimal health.

As a follow up to this, in a study just published in The International Journal of Cancer, researchers reported that individuals who drank green tea appeared to lower the odds of developing chronic gastritis, a long term stomach inflammation that can proceed cancer. The active ingredient in green tea is a nutrient called EGCG. This nutrient, along with other beneficial factors, can be found in green tea supplemental form. The best products available are from Smartbasics and Nature's Way. Both products provide excellent standardized forms of green tea with guaranteed levels of active ingredients and are in capsules (easier to swallow and better absorption when compared to tablets). The Smartbasics product is a much better value at a cost of $1 for every 1,200 mg of green tea versus the Nature's Way product at a cost of $1 for every 510 mg of green tea."

From Allen S. Josephs, an owner of VitaCost, a web based retailer of supplements