Articles

Don’t supplement users deserve consumer protection, too?

Canada's Parliament buildingThe Canadian Parliament, hypothetically protecting consumers since Confederation.

One of the most pervasive yet appealing health myths is the idea that natural equals safe. It’s a statement that’s repeated constantly by manufacturers of supplements and “natural” health products. It’s been the primary argument used, with considerable success, to give these products completely different regulatory structures than exist for drug products. Weaker regulation of supplements and natural health products has been a boon to manufacturers, but the same can’t be said for consumer protection. It’s effectively a buyer-beware marketplace in most parts of the world, with little accurate information available to consumers. But supplement manufacturers aren’t content with the minimal regulation that’s currently in place – they want health “freedom”. In this case, “freedom” means the right to sell any product, while being exempted from safety and regulatory requirements. New Canadian legislation is poised to raise safety standards for drugs and enhance the ability of regulators to recall dangerous products, yet consumers of natural health products are left behind. The legislation proposes to exempt anything considered a “natural health product”. This is not only bad public policy, but it has the potential to cause avoidable harm. After all, shouldn’t users of supplements and natural health products be entitled to the same safety and quality standards as those that use prescription drugs? If the supplement industry gets its way, the answer will be “no”. (There is an opportunity until June 10 for you to provide feedback on this legislation – see below.)

In late 2013 the Canadian government introduced Bill C-17, the Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act. Also called “Vanessa’s Law”, the bill is named after the daughter of Terence Young, a Canadian Member of Parliament whose daughter died of an adverse drug reaction. The Act has been written to enhance and strengthen Canadian food and drug regulations, and is expected to bring Canadian regulations in line with international best practices for drug regulation. The Act will do the following:

  • give government the authority to recall drugs from the market (it currently must ask the manufacturer’s permission, and the decision is at the manufacturer’s discretion)
  • increase fines to manufacturers from $5,000 to $5,000,000 per day for companies that do not comply with the Food and Drugs Act
  • the ability to require companies to undertake post-marketing (real-world) research
  • the ability to force a manufacturer to change a drug’s label because of new harms or risks to health
  • make adverse event reporting mandatory for hospitals.

These changes are overdue in Canada, and welcome. There is an interesting exemption. The act applies to “therapeutic products” which is defined as:

a drug or device or any combination of drugs and devices, but does not include a natural health product within the meaning of the Natural Health Products Regulations

Even the preamble makes it clear – there are apparently no issues with natural health products:

And whereas new measures are required to further protect Canadians from the risks related to drugs and medical devices, other than natural health products

What are the consequences of excluding natural health products? Tainted drugs can be recalled, but not contaminated or mislabelled supplements (which have been documented with Canadian products). Adverse event reporting becomes mandatory for drugs and even “medical devices” (e.g., bandages) but reporting on herbal products and other supplements is not. And oddly, even some drug products are considered “natural health products” (e.g., some decongestants). The result of this legislation, if passed intact, will mean the extent to which consumers will be protected from unsafe products will vary.

Drug safety disasters like thalidomide led to the pharmaceutical regulatory framework that is generally in place around the world today. Amazingly, manufacturers of supplements and other “alternative” medicine products have been largely successful in circumventing these safety rules, convincing regulators that “natural” equals “safe”, and therefore, should be exempted from regulation. In the USA, the framework is DSHEA, which removed the onus of demonstrating safety and efficacy from the manufacturer and put the requirement to demonstrate harm on the FDA – exactly the same scenario as drugs in the early 1900′s. In Canada, the Natural Health Product regulations had a similar effect, and implemented a lowered bar for non-drug supplements. Today even homeopathic remedies in Canada are deemed safe and effective and approved with unique recommended uses.

Is there any rationale that would exempt natural health products from stronger regulatory oversight? Some (particularly the industry) point to the lack of evidence of harms. And from one perspective, that is true. Despite their widespread use, surveillance of supplements (the limited amount that occurs) reveals generally few adverse events. It could be that many products lack meaningful pharmacologic activity — either positive or negative. An adverse event is probably less likely in placebos that have no beneficial effects. But beyond efficacy, there are several other factors, unique to supplement use, that may contribute to the perception (and under-reporting) of harms from supplements. I’ve mentioned several reasons before, which include:

  • Consumers believing natural products are safe may be less likely to associate adverse events with supplement use.
  • Supplements don’t require a prescription. No health professional may be involved in measuring the response to therapy, who might be able to identify adverse events as part of a monitoring plan.
  • Side effects and harms may not be reported, as some are reluctant to share concerns with health professionals.
  • Consumers may not know how to manage an adverse event, and to whom they should report an adverse event. They may be unwilling to describe health consequences to the vendor of a product, or report in a setting like a natural foods store.
  • Users may have a distrust of “conventional” medicine which drove their initial use of the product. When adverse events were identified, they may be reluctant to consult “conventional” health care providers for assistance.
  • Some fear of losing access to supplements, which may drive a reluctance to report adverse events.
  • Supplements are commonly used for short intervals for self-limiting conditions, and long-term harms may not appear (or be detectable).

If you don’t look for it, you won’t find it. And if you set the system up to minimize even the potential of reporting, it should be no surprise that supplements are not associated with a lot of safety concerns or reports. And that’s exactly what the bill’s exemption of natural health products will do – reinforce a weak regulatory structure and make no meaningful improvements in transparency or accountability from supplement manufacturers.

Taking action

The Canadian advocacy organization Bad Science Watch has organized a campaign to press for changes in Bill C-17. It is proposing two amendments:

The bill has been referred to a Standing Committee on Health which will meet on Tuesday June 10. There is a draft letter at Bad Science Watch, with the email address of the Members of Parliament that will be considering the bill. There is also a draft letter prepared by AllTrials, which elaborates on the rationale for a registry (yet does not address the NHP exemption.) If you want to provide comments that will be considered, you must do so by Tuesday, June 10.

Conclusion

Canadian consumers deserve equal protection from unsafe health products, no matter how they are categorized. In light of the questionable efficacy, safety, and product quality standards of natural health products in Canada, there is no clear rationale why Natural Health Products should be exempted from newly proposed safety enhancements. In addition, Bill C-17 represents an important opportunity to bring greater transparency to clinical trial data – a move with the potential to improve health care not just for Canadians, but for patients worldwide.

Photo from flickr user West Annex News used under a CC licence.

Posted in: Herbs & Supplements, Politics and Regulation, Science and Medicine

Leave a Comment (81) ↓

81 thoughts on “Don’t supplement users deserve consumer protection, too?

  1. Let’s suppose there are two different types of ‘medicine’.

    One type cures by increasing healthiness – we call them foods, or nutrients, etc. These medicines include water – cures dehydration, Vitamin C – cures scurvy, food – cures starvation.

    The other type cures by attacking illness, we call them ‘medicines’. These medicines include antibiotics – kill bacteria (and good bacteria too), painkillers – numb pain and numb senses too,

    Which do you need protection from? If “medicines that work by fighting illness” only improved healthiness, we would not need protection from their dangers. But medicines that work by increasing healthiness are not dangerous – except in very exceptional situations, you can drink so much water that you become sick, or even die.

    The FDA defines medicine by CLAIMS to fight illness. It does not recognize medicines that improve healthiness, because there is no way to “CLAIM” an increase in healthiness (to the FDA) without reference to ‘fighting illness’.

    If supplements claim to ‘fight illness’, and file a claim with the FDA, they become medicines, and are subject to the same rules as all medicines. We don’t need to apply ‘medicine’ rules to bottle water, just because it cures dehydration, nor to Vitamin C, just because it cures Scurvy. They are foods. They should be subject to the same regulations as other foods. And they are.

    tracy
    http://healthicine.org/

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      It does not recognize medicines that improve healthiness

      That’s because, according to your definition, these aren’t medicines. They would be food and water. And food isn’t medicine, it’s food. Yes, necessary, yes, supports health over the long term, but not medicine. You try to treat cancer with food and you’ll die of untreated cancer.

      If supplements claim to ‘fight illness’, and file a claim with the FDA, they become medicines, and are subject to the same rules as all medicines. We don’t need to apply ‘medicine’ rules to bottle water, just because it cures dehydration, nor to Vitamin C, just because it cures Scurvy. They are foods. They should be subject to the same regulations as other foods. And they are.

      A bottle of 1000mg vitamin C capsules, or 1000IU vitamin D, are not foods. And the latter can kill you. A bottle of encapsulated cat’s claw is not food, nor is tincture of echinecea. A bottle of horny goat weed contaminated with lead and adulterated with viagra is medicine (and a poison). But since all quality control, concentration testing and contents labeling for supplements is voluntary, not mandatory, not regulated and not confirmed, you simply have no idea what is in that bottle. That makes me uncomfortable.

      One does actually need to know if what is in bottled water is actually water, what the levels of minerals and ions are, and what the source is. Demineralized water can be dangerous, as can mineralized water, and if you’re mixing infant formula you really, really need to know what kind of water you are buying.

      But what you’re really asking for is the status quo – which is two standards. Drugs have to meet stringent quality control test, must be of the concentration found on the label, must contain what’s on the lable, and must be proven to actually work before it is licensed. Supplements require none of that and I’m always astonished how eager customers are to grant more freedom to supplement manufacturers in the form of freedom from regulations. Seriously, does it outrage you when Pfizer tries to oversell the scientifically-tested benefits of its statins, but you’re perfectly fine with completely untested supplements? It just seems like bizarre hypocrisy.

      1. Ekko says:

        “But since all quality control, concentration testing and contents labeling for supplements is voluntary, not mandatory, not regulated and not confirmed, you simply have no idea what is in that bottle. That makes me uncomfortable. ”

        These things are all mandatory already, not voluntary.
        http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodnatur/about-apropos/index-eng.php#gmp

      2. stanmrak says:

        “A bottle of 1000mg vitamin C capsules, or 1000IU vitamin D, are not foods. And the latter can kill you.”

        Citation, please! A google search for “deaths vitamin d overdose” comes up with NOT ONE item.

        You would have to take 50 of those capsules every day for a few months to reach an overdose, but it still wouldn’t kill you.

        1. JohnMcC says:

          Vitamin D overdose CAN kill you.

          “Excessive amounts of vitamin D in the body can cause calcium levels in the blood to rise. This can lead to a condition called hypercalcemia (too much calcium in your blood), which can cause a variety of symptoms, including:

          •fatigue
          •loss of appetite
          •weight loss
          •excessive thirst
          •excessive urination
          •dehydration
          •constipation
          •irritability, nervousness
          •ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
          •muscle weakness
          •nausea, vomiting
          •dizziness
          •confusion, disorientation
          •high blood pressure
          •heart arrhythmias
          Longer-term complications of untreated hypervitaminosis D include:

          •kidney stones
          •kidney damage
          •kidney failure”

          http://www.healthline.com/health/hypervitaminosis-d

          High blood pressure, heart arrhythmias and kidney failures can all kill you and are all effects of overdosing on Vitamin D- This was the first link up on my Google search for “hypervitaminosis D” the technical term for overdosing on Vitamin D.

          I think you need to polish up your Google skills Stan

          1. Jeff says:

            Hypervitaminosis D is quite rare. A much bigger problem is hypovitaminosis D (vitamin D deficiency).

            http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/

        2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          You would have to take 50 of those capsules every day for a few months to reach an overdose, but it still wouldn’t kill you.

          That’s true, and Gary Null went to the hospital for nervous exhaustion.

          Vitamin D can be both acutely and chronically toxic in massive overdoses. Yes, this is unlikely, and incredibly uncommon – but it is still possible and can still happen.

          My Dog that man has creepy dead eyes.

      3. Andrés says:

        WLU said:

        A bottle of 1000mg vitamin C capsules, or 1000IU vitamin D, are not foods. And the latter can kill you.

        Of course death by vitamin D is possible. By water ingestion too as you have already commented elsewhere. I am not aware of any casualty after the 40′s though, and some of them were due to vitamin D2*. It seems that back in the 30′s (via Dr. Cannell) it was known that 20% of patients on at least 200,000IU/day became clinically toxic but none in a clinical series of 773 died. Nevertheless it seems a bad idea either any dose higher than 100,000IU (via Vitamin D Council) or daily doses higher than lets say 10,000IU/day (via Dr. Cannell) without checking levels.

        *Vitamin D2 is just an inferior (although natural but patentable) analog of vitamin D3.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          What’s your point?

          1. Calli Arcale says:

            It’s true — Vitamin D overdose is exceedingly rare. However, Gary Null inadvertently demonstrated how easily it can happen when there is little oversight and quality control has been allowed to suffer.

          2. Andrés says:

            Calli Arcale said:

            It’s true — Vitamin D overdose is exceedingly rare. However, Gary Null inadvertently demonstrated how easily it can happen when there is little oversight and quality control has been allowed to suffer.

            Certainly. I don’t think that taking mixed supplements including vitamin D is neither a good idea (I don’t take vitamin D the days I am able to sunbath) nor prudent either. It seems that capsules/pills would be more user fail-proof too.

        2. Andrés says:

          WLU said:

          What’s your point?

          Not mine really but Professor Vieth’s:

          Worrying about vitamin D toxicity is like worrying about drowning when you are dying of thirst.

          As I have already said I don’t think waiting for more evidence without returning to square one first is prudent. Dermatologists didn’t wait for clear evidence about overall cancer incidence and any cause mortality before issuing their sun avoidance advice.

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            You’re still taking massive, possibly toxic doses of an unnecessary vitamin in the off-chance that it might have some sort of effect at exponentially-supraphysiological levels that could never be reached in nature, all the while trusting that the company manufacturing it is, despite a lax or absent regulatory and quality control environment, actually putting what it say is on the label actually into the bottle. Sure, it’s low-ish risk. Sure, your chances of actually dying of an acute or chronic overdose is very, very low. But is it worth the money, is it worth the obsession, is it worth the distortion of the scientific method, is it worth the outside chance that such a high level of vitamin D might actually be causing cancer rather than curing it*? For what? To live forever?

            And you won’t get vaccinated for influenza (or it might be you don’t get your father vaccinated, I don’t care). It’s just bizarre, the imbalance of evidence and scientific consensus on either side of these arguments. You’re betting on a single guy versus all the other guys who look at the same evidence and go “meh”. It’s just so…stupid is the only word I can come up with that expresses my feelings on the matter.

            *I really don’t care if you’re taking it to prevent or cure cancer, or to maintain skin as smooth and supple as a Mormon’s child bride.

          2. Andrés says:

            WLU said:

            You’re still taking massive, possibly toxic doses of an unnecessary vitamin in the off-chance that it might have some sort of effect at exponentially-supraphysiological levels that could never be reached in nature

            No, I am not taking massive doses. Our skin is supposed to make more than 10.000IU worth of vitamin D on sun exposure leading to a slight pinkness of skin so 5.000IU/day the days I can’t sunbath seems a good dose to me. Of course if I ever move to the Canary Islands I will be skipping pills altogether.

            No, I am not getting supraphysiological levels. I often check my 25-OH-vitamin-D blood level and it has been mostly between 50 and 60ng/ml these last years. No, vitamin D is neither a vitamin (it is a pre-hormone) nor unnecessary.

            WLU said:

            But is it worth the money, is it worth the obsession, is it worth the distortion of the scientific method, is it worth the outside chance that such a high level of vitamin D might actually be causing cancer rather than curing it*? For what? To live forever?

            5.000IU/day of vitamin D is very cheap: $16.95 a year if no sunbathing. Perhaps I am obsessed. No scientific method was needed to shun sun exposure.

            There are some data pointing towards the possibility of a deleterious effect of 25-OH-vitamin-D levels higher than 30ng/ml. Nevertheless it seems quite possible that they are driven by reversed causality (less healthy population taking vitamin D supplements) or seasonal variation. The basis of seasonal variation deleterious effect has already been considered in Professor Vieth’s hypothesis (its effect has already been measured on bone resorption). Of course acting upon incomplete information has its potential dangers. I simply consider more dangerous doing nothing. I’ll adjust strategy along the way as new data (as VITAL) keep coming up. Of course all of us are going to die. I just like more not delegating responsibility of it to anyone else.

            WLU said:

            And you won’t get vaccinated for influenza (or it might be you don’t get your father vaccinated, I don’t care). It’s just bizarre, the imbalance of evidence and scientific consensus on either side of these arguments.

            Just for clarification. It was you who pointed out to me the difference between ethyl- and methyl- mercury so my father still get his annual flu shot. I don’t. I couldn’t care less for the consensus thing.

            WLU said:

            You’re betting on a single guy versus all the other guys who look at the same evidence and go “meh”. It’s just so…stupid is the only word I can come up with that expresses my feelings on the matter.

            Of course you think it is stupid. If not we would be thinking along the same line.

            1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              I’m just not really sure what you’re trying to accomplish here – convince me you’re right? I don’t think you, a nonspecialist engineer, smart as you may be, will ever be smarter than the people who actually study this for their jobs every single day. You can populate all your links and previous posts, but I won’t bother reading them – I think your premise (“I’m smarter than the majority of scientists who actively research this area”) is fatally flawed and I’m really not interested in spending the time it would take to check your basic claims or the claims of those you rely on. I really don’t care how often you sun bathe, or the cancers you might be fueling with this habit, or the blood levels of vitamin D. I don’t see what you’re trying to achieve either – eternal youth and/or life?

              I mean, good on you and whatever, but why bother posting about it again and again? I’m never, ever going to be convinced because I fundamentally will never believe you versus say, all the NIH researchers who wrote the guidelines on vitamin D. Or even just Angora Rabbit.

              1. Andrey Pavlov says:

                You raise a good point WLU. I’ve wondered what in the heck Andres’ purpose is here. Most people are here to learn and share ideas. Some are here to outright troll. Some are fervent believers in [insert quackery here]. Some are too dim to realize how wrong they are. Andres is none of those.

                He is obviously brighter than the average bulb. He references actual studies and scientific literature (albeit like a drunkard uses a lamppost, but still, better than SSR for example). He actually considers and responds to what is written to him. He reflects back and references his own and other’s previous writing. And he does raise valid and interesting points from time to time.

                My only guess at this point is that he is personally feeling guilty about some sort of health-related issue with a family member and/or himself and became convinced it had to do with VitC specifically and vit/minerals in general, and is now trying desperately to make amends and justify his approach to how he has decided his forgiveness must come.

                Seems far-fetched but… you got any better ideas? Or Andres, want to actually tell us why you are here? You once said something to the effect that you think more research should be done on these topics. Well… this is not going to lead to more research being done. We don’t control research here. We do it ourselves, but I think I am pretty much the only one who even does research in a field that could do such research but… my specific research for the last two years and the foreseeable future cannot do what you want. You certainly aren’t going to convince us to lobby en masse for it. So what is your end game here?

              2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                It’s a bit Freudian, but that is certainly one possible explanation. I’m going to add a soupcon of suspicion that he also thinks it will maintain the power and beauty of youth into his advanced age.

                And also, some people simply like to argue.

                I would also venture that perhaps Anders likes having even an unappreciative audience to present his ideas to for challenge and simply to have somewhere to articulate them. Certainly he seems more intereseted in his own thought process than in any feedback given to him. And that’s fine, but past a certain point everyone’s attention span wanes.

                I would also venture that like many intelligent people, he’s gotten better at talking himself into maintaining a position and discounting the anomalies and dissenting science – which is why smart people are actually worse to deal with than dumb people when it comes to dealing with their fringe views.

              3. Andrey Pavlov says:

                Very good points WLU.

                which is why smart people are actually worse to deal with than dumb people when it comes to dealing with their fringe views.

                Oh and don’t I know it.

              4. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Just don’t get too smug – we’re just as vulnerable as Andres is, we just happen to align with what the mainstream scientific opinion is. Of course, I think that’s a good thing and will always defer to the opinion. If it changes, then I will change with it.

              5. Andrey Pavlov says:

                Just don’t get too smug – we’re just as vulnerable as Andres is, we just happen to align with what the mainstream scientific opinion is.

                I disagree here, even though you have a very good point: we must always be vigilant and we are prone to the same biases.

                The reason I disagree is that I don’t think we “just happen to align with the mainstream.” In fact, a lot of the mainstream happens to currently like Reiki and other quackery, depending on how you wish to define it, so that alone could disprove your thesis. But what the point really is that we have strived to develop a process and framework that will, as best as possible, arrive at the correct conclusions as often as possible. Regardless of whether that is “mainstream” or not. Our process not just allows but demands that we change course with the “mainstream” whereas Andres does not. Which means we don’t “just happen to align” we are here for a reason.

                But absolutely, smugness is a way to fail by eroding that process and framework we have worked so hard to establish.

              6. Andrés says:

                WLU said:

                I I think your premise (“I’m smarter than the majority of scientists who actively research this area”) is fatally flawed

                I’m never, ever going to be convinced because I fundamentally will never believe you versus say, all the NIH researchers who wrote the guidelines on vitamin D.

                It is not about me. The crux of the matter is why do you think that your experts (those considering only vitamin D on bone health since I suppose you are referring to IOM recommendations —”corresponding to a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level of at least 20 ng/ml”— that I have already commented upon) are smarter than say Dr. Cannell, Professor Vieth, Dr. Holick and Professor Grant. Who Watches the Watchers?… sorry, who is deciding who is an expert? Why not following the Endocrine Society recommendations (via Dr. Cannell) —”vitamin D insufficiency as a 25(OH)D of 21–29 ng/ml”— instead? Even more to the point, why not following the Canadian Cancer Society advise of —”Talk to your doctor about”— “taking 1000 international units (IU) a day during fall and winter months”?

                WLU said:

                I’m never, ever going to be convinced because I fundamentally will never believe you versus say, all the NIH researchers who wrote the guidelines on vitamin D. Or even just Angora Rabbit.

                What about Dr. Crislip’s advise “Be replete in vitamin D.”? (I don’t know which level he considers replete though.)

                We are condemned toward thinking it is the other one who is standing on an illogical conclusion.

                WLU said:

                I’m just not really sure what you’re trying to accomplish here

                Dr. Pavlov said:

                I’ve wondered what in the heck Andres’ purpose is here.

                Sometimes it is just my pedantic self wanting to point out some relevant, interesting piece of research.

                In a more general sense I want to understand where the certainty that megadoses of vitamins and minerals (yes, that would be orthomolecular medicine) are not therapeutic stands on. Of course our positive experiences doesn’t proof a thing but put me in a serious doubtful state whenever you ascertain orthomolecular equates quack around here. Of course I am certain that it is not because any of you is either evil or a Big Pharma shill.

                Dr. Pavlov said:

                My only guess at this point is that he is personally feeling guilty about some sort of health-related issue with a family member and/or himself and became convinced it had to do with VitC specifically and vit/minerals in general, and is now trying desperately to make amends and justify his approach to how he has decided his forgiveness must come.

                No big issue yet but certainly possible in the future. Basically I can stand its possibility because I go ahead experimenting on myself. Of course those few very near me heeding my advice know it. Actually my father even calls me test sick (“enfermo piloto”).

                Dr. Pavlov said:

                You once said something to the effect that you think more research should be done on these topics. Well… this is not going to lead to more research being done.

                Of course not. But chatting around here let me think about how to push somehow toward that goal. Perhaps my next step will be talking directly to my sister’s MD friend (we see her roughly once a year since she’s abroad) about the Vandy study. I keep thinking there is more information to be squeezed out of their data.

  2. Frederick says:

    Man for, at least once, the conservative party had a chance to do something right, but no, they still forgot a important detail.

    Harper and his minions shown a lot of anti-science tendency over the years. The way the handle things are just reinforcing more and more my sovereignist convictions.

    Anyway Since I’m still a Canadian ( yes, I do have a hard time writing that lol ), I will send that email.

    I don’t understand how they can think that no protection is good. The funny thing about that, it show how much the lobby of natural product is powerful, a lot more than Drug company lobby, because they have ideologues and borderline religious poeple working for them + a lot of money. It is not the other way around like cam advocate cry out so loudly. I mean both lobby should be keep in check, of course, all of them.

    1. Greg says:

      I seriously doubt natural health products manufacturers have more powerful lobbyists than the pharmaceutical corporations. Harper has got to go – he and his cronies are bad for science and the environment – they only seem to care about the economy and ensuring the profits of the oil & gas industry.

    2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Frederick, did you manage to find a version en francais? Because that website is just as useful in Quebec as it is everywhere else in Canada – and a petition from Quebec is just as convincing. Possibly more so! Perhaps the organizers would be interested in a translation?

      1. Frederick says:

        @WLU No i did not find one. A french version would be nice, because not all people in quebec understand English that well, and a Lot of our MPs are Quebecois, Mine is Robert Aubin from the NDP ( I did not vote for him I was voting Bloc Quebecois of course, but the guy is still a good MP). I will try to make my own letter to M. Aubin with the help of my girlfriend ( she is good in french and she work for public health and wrote a couple of press release she is good with that) and I suspect she will send it too. And even if i Send a letter the all other concern people i will send them the letter in french, They are all suppose to speak french since we are suppose to be a bi-lingual country ( who is acting more and more as if french did not exist, but that is a other debate, not a science/medicine one).
        I could try after that to communicate with Badscience and send them the french version, Might be useful. But I will still share this on facebook since i have couple of friend interested in those kind of thing .

        @Greg totally agree, but for me Liberal party is as worst, Justin trudeau, well I will spare you of what i think of this guy ans his party in general lol ;-)

        I don’t thing the cam lobby as more money power, but they totally won the sympathy side, and this is powerful. for them to be able to slip by without being under rigorous testing for so long, it kind of show that.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          You voted BQ? I hope for their support of public programs, and not their separatist tendencies! The separation of Quebec would be a great loss to the rest of Canada, and I think to Quebec as well! I grew up in a unilingual town and put in many years to learn my limited, terrible French, and I’m very glad I did so – not merely because it is useful for my job. Learning a second language broadens the mind, allows you to peek into a different culture, and allows me to communicate better with my fellow citizens across the river. It really is too bad that French and English aren’t more mandatory throughout the whole country beyond merely the first year of high school.

          Please stay with Canada, the rest of Canada would miss you :)

          1. Frederick says:

            Yes I did vot Bq for their competence and the fact they are souverainiste of course, We still be a friendly country, I wish for it, but don,t worry, uqebecois are a bunch of wusses! we have the ressources culture etc, there is no problem in doing it, it is just a political/cultural choice, but theProblem is, peoples here a afraid, In fact it is not better. A great majority of people do not agree with the way canada do thing, but they don’t want to take matter in their own hands, we don,t stay with canada because that is what we chose, but because we don’t want to make riple, no risk! And the Fear mongering ofLiberal party of quebec work super good, I meant Last election was just a awful, Lot of disgusting meme and thing said on facebook and garbage radio On Our Prime minister, You know it was a women, so you can imagine. Low level manipulation, and frankly it was hard for a skeptic like me, You grave for a politician that will stop try to appeal the stupid part of the human brain. I realized how much people are easy the manipulate, and how easy to understand, but false, logic is so much popular than sound and more deeply thought logic, based of evidence. Anyway, I still hope it will happen, but I doubt it will.

            1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              Aw, please don’t leave. Then everyone else in Canada will abandon French, and I like French :(

      2. Hi William, we would be very interested in a translation! We do not have any French speaking volunteers, and translation can be a time consuming (or alternatively, expensive) job. If you are willing to lend us a hand, please email me at jwilliams@badsciencewatch.ca

        Thank you to Scott for helping bring this issue to greater attention. Sources present at the Standing Committee’s meeting this morning inform us there was a lot of talk about NHPs, and the Minister of Health was grilled pretty hard on the issue, so our message is getting through. All of you can help by keeping up those letters!

        Jamie Williams
        Executive Director, Bad Science Watch

        1. Correction: I meant to write “we do not have many French speaking volunteers”.

        2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          I can’t help, my French is barely enough to locate subway platforms and order lunch. Perhaps Frederick would be generous enough to donate his time!

  3. Jeff says:

    “But beyond efficacy, there are several other factors, unique to supplement use, that may contribute to the perception (and under-reporting) of harms from supplements.”

    The FDA receives about 300 times more adverse event reports for prescription drugs than it does for supplements. Scott doesn’t take into account the most likely reason for this: Supplements are much safer than drugs. This is not surprising since most supplements are simply concentrations of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, or botanicals already found in the food supply. Most drugs are completely new, patented molecules never before found in nature. Recently the FDA has tried to simplify the process of reporting adverse events:

    https://www.safetyreporting.hhs.gov/fpsr/WorkflowLoginIO.aspx?

    Unlike Canada, The FDA has mandatory recall authority for all food products, including dietary supplements. Scroll down to section IC.2.1:

    http://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/fsma/ucm257978.htm

    Interestingly, the FDA only has recall authority for medical devices, biological products, Human Tissue Intended for Transplantation, infant formula, tobacco products, and food products. It does not have specific recall authority for prescription drugs.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Scott doesn’t take into account the most likely reason for this: Supplements are much safer than drugs.

      Supplements are certainly safer than drugs, but that’s because supplements are far, far less likely to actually do anything than drugs. And that’s assuming what is written on the bottle is what is actually found in the bottle; because there are no tests for safety or consistency, you simply have no way of knowing. Accordingly, contamination with heavy metals and even actual drugs is quite common.

      But to put it another way – having a witch doctor kill a chicken to cure your brain cancer is much, much safer than surgery, but it’s also much, much more likely to result in you dying from an untreated brain tumor.

      Safety without efficacy is a stupid measure – would you take a powerful pharamceutical solely on the basis of “hey, it’s perfectly safe!” Or would you perhaps want to know whether it actually does anything?

      Most drugs are completely new, patented molecules never before found in nature.

      Are you sure about that? Many drugs are actually purified, refined molecules found in nature (like insulin, or antibodies, or adrenaline), or slightly altered from natural states to improve absorbability or reduce adverse effects (i.e. aspirin is very close to what is found in willow bark, but is much less likely to make your stomach bleed).

      Interestingly, the FDA only has recall authority for medical devices, biological products, Human Tissue Intended for Transplantation, infant formula, tobacco products, and food products. It does not have specific recall authority for prescription drugs

      Really? May I ask where you are getting your information from? Because that seems suspect.

      1. Jeff says:

        Companies following the extensive testing requirements spelled out in supplement GMPs do have product labels accurately stating what’s in the bottle:
        http://www.naturalproductsinsider.com/articles/2012/02/the-cost-of-gmp-compliance.aspx

        To see the list of products subject to mandatory recall, scroll down to section 7-5-3:
        http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/ComplianceManuals/RegulatoryProceduresManual/ucm177309.htm

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Companies following the extensive testing requirements spelled out in supplement GMPs do have product labels accurately stating what’s in the bottle:

          But following good manufacturing processes is completely voluntary, is it not?

          My thinking is that it should be mandatory as a minimum standard, and that still doesn’t address the efficacy of the products.

          1. Jeff says:

            Beginning in 2008, supplement GMPs became mandatory. Compliance requires a substantial investment in equipment and personnel. This article spells it out:
            http://www.naturalproductsinsider.com/articles/2012/02/the-cost-of-gmp-compliance.aspx

            The FDA estimates that 25% of supplement companies will eventually be forced out of business (due to high compliance costs):
            http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Regulation/Supplement-maker-Kabco-shut-down-over-GMP-violations

            1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              The FDA estimates that 25% of supplement companies will eventually be forced out of business (due to high compliance costs

              Good. I have a hard time having sympathy for what is little more than a consumer fraud manufacturing plant.

              And, of course, good manufacturing practices for useless suppelements still results in useless supplements. It’s about as beneficial to society as Russell’s Teapot Polish.

        1. Jeff says:

          All the drug recalls listed were done voluntarily by the companies involved.

          Drugs can be seized by the FDA, but only if they are counterfeit, or if they are being marketed illegally as dietary supplements:
          http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/CriminalInvestigations/ucm288020.htm

      2. Eldric IV says:

        The FDA, unfortunately, does not have statutory authority to mandate recalls of prescription drugs. It only recently gained the ability to recall foods (2010?) and discussion of drug recall came up at the time but adding them to the FMSA would have delayed and/or jeopardized the bill. The FDA has been asking for drug recall authority since and its best bet seems to be from the angle of fighting counterfeit drugs.

      3. stanmrak says:

        “Many drugs are actually purified, refined molecules found in nature (like insulin, or antibodies, or adrenaline), or slightly altered from natural states to improve absorbability or reduce adverse effects.”

        If something occurs in nature, it can’t be patented, by definition. Ergo, drugs are not natural. Calling them ‘purified’ and ‘refined’ to make them sound like an improvement is a joke. I think ‘bastardized’ would be just as accurate.

        1. Travis says:

          My udnderstanding is that syntheses are patented or specific polymorphs of drugs are patented… sometime the polymorphism (often) is very important and if you can reliably produce a better polymorph you’ve just out-patented your competition

          Zantac is a good example

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polymorphism_(materials_science)#Polymorphism_in_pharmaceuticals

        2. Lawrence says:

          @Stam – you really are funny….so if we find an “herb,” let’s say – that contains one particular very good medicinal attribute, but the rest of the herb will kill you if you take too much of it – so we take that one attribute, refine it & bring it to market as an individual drug, that’s bad?

          What crack are you smoking?

        3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          If something occurs in nature, it can’t be patented, by definition. Ergo, drugs are not natural. Calling them ‘purified’ and ‘refined’ to make them sound like an improvement is a joke. I think ‘bastardized’ would be just as accurate.

          Drugs clearly are not natural in most cases. Nature rarely concentrates individual molecules to the degree necessary to cause main and adverse effects in humans. That doesn’t change the fact that drugs can be acquired from natural sources through purification, distillation, extraction, precipitation and centrifuges.

          Willowbark, when chewed in sufficient quantities, will release salicylic acid which will in turn induce gastrointestinal bleeding and reduce pain. Aspirin, acetylsalicylic acid, will reduce pain with dramatically less GI bleeding.

          I suppose the judgement on whether that is an improvement or not depends on whether or not you think GI bleeds are a good thing.

          Tell me stan, why do you want the millions of people who take aspirin to die of massive gastrointestinal hemorraging?

          Sure, sometimes the raw molecule can reach physiological levels just by chewing some leaves – but this is pretty rare, and often the effective dose is close to the lethal dose. That’s because nature produces these molecules so you don’t eat the plant. Nature doesn’t provide for human needs, humans are generally parasitic on but sometimes useful for the processes of nature. Nature doesn’t care if you live or die, and claiming that “natural” is somehow better ignores the myriad toxic, lethal, caustic, disfiguring and cruel aspects of nature that humans attempt to avoid through science and technology.

  4. enl says:

    I am fully in favor of this change. After all, the trademark for Radium Water is long since expired, and radium is natural, and not a medicine.

    I think that soon I can retire in the comfort I would like to be accustomed to…..

  5. Xplodyncow says:

    It’s effectively a buyer-beware marketplace in most parts of the world, with little accurate information available to consumers.

    Such as on drug interactions. I’m guessing that those who think natural = safe would never suspect that their daily dose of St John’s wort (for example) is what’s making their prescription medication less effective.

    1. Windriven says:

      Even something as innocuous as grapefruit juice (Mmmmm) is contraindicated for consumption with roughly 85 different drugs.

      1. Frederick says:

        But… but… it NATURAL, it’s impossible! :-) It’s a lots more natural when you spike with rhum or something!

      2. Renate says:

        I know and my dad really, really hates it. He loves grapefruit juice, but is just allowed one glass in the morning, because it has a contraindication with one of the drugs he needs to take.

        But I suppose the ‘natural is good’ people will say that it is the drug that causes the problems and not the grapefruit juice.

  6. stanmrak says:

    The safety and quality standards used for prescription drugs allow for over 100,000 deaths a year from properly-prescribed and administered prescriptions. This doesn’t include accidental deaths. You’d have to look pretty long to find just one death from supplements. The safety issue is a farce.

    1. Windriven says:

      Don’t be an ass, stan. First, you offer no citation to back your claim. Second you ignore the fact that you compare supplements which by and large serve no purpose but to relieve the worried well of some excess cash with powerful drugs that regulate heart rhythm, battle infection, replace missing hormones, and otherwise have profound, often life saving effects.

    2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      The safety and quality standards used for prescription drugs allow for over 100,000 deaths a year from properly-prescribed and administered prescriptions. This doesn’t include accidental deaths. You’d have to look pretty long to find just one death from supplements. The safety issue is a farce.

      Yes, as said above – that’s because most supplements have no physiologic effect.

      Call me crazy, call me an overzealous protector of the consumer, but I like to think that supplements should do something if they’re going to be sold and marketed as doing something. I have a general problem with manufacturers lying to consumers. One can argue that since manufacturers use structure/function claims, they aren’t actually “lying”, but that’s sophistry. People don’t buy cat’s claw for the extra fiber, nor do they buy shark cartilage for the protein. And if there were no restrictions on claims made by manufacturers, then all those bottles of shark cartilage would be screaming “CURES CANCER” in letters so large you would have to identify the dosing with a magnifying glass.

      Consumer protection isn’t merely about protecting lives and health (although it should be), consumer protection also includes protecting their wealth.

      But you, stan, a supplement shill with a degree in marketing, clearly cares more about padding your own wallet than you do about protecting the wallet of your fellow human.

      Also, the fact that drugs kill people and recognized (well advertised) adverse effects has absolutely no bearing on how we should regulate supplements. Claiming we can only protect consumers from supplements when drugs have no adverse effects is a lie used by supplement manufacturers and salesmen to protect their profits. And make no mistake – supplement manufacturers and salesmen like stan care far, far more for their profits than they do about their customers’ health.

      1. MattBowen says:

        “Consumer protection isn’t merely about protecting lives and health (although it should be), consumer protection also includes protecting their wealth.”

        Um, no. 50% of the shit in people’s house isn’t necessary (or the large frivolous houses themselves) — it’s arguably a waste of their wealth. It is absolutely no one’s duty to protect people from frivolous spending. Would I love to ban Gwyneth Paltrow from writing another book on fitness and nutrition so no one would waste money on it? Absolutely. Do I think anyone deserves to have that authority? Absolutely not.

        Has anyone here actually provided data for how many consumers have died from supplementation? Is there even a significant safety argument to make? Because when we take away the efficacy/wealth argument (people are rightfully allowed to waste their money on magic beans), I don’t see this standing on much else.

        Lastly, the regulatory framework necessary to enact this would be relatively large, while shutting down a large tax-generating sector of the economy (you could say ineffective supplements are just one of the many “stupid taxes” out there). I don’t even want to go into what kind of black market for supplements would arise out of this – because I can tell you, if this was enacted, we would be forcing would-be tax dollars out of government hands. I would much rather see those tax dollars actually getting collected and going towards health care, public parks, food, education, and income equality, which would surely do a hell of a lot more in promoting public health in the long run than “protecting” consumers from relatively benign and ineffective supplements. Let’s focus our efforts and funds on the real social determinants of health instead of frivolous junk like this.

        I’m by no means “against” some kind of regulation (or at least a validation of contents) for supplements, but I’m just not convinced the juice is worth the squeeze. Conceptually I think it sounds like a valid idea, but I don’t live in imagination land.

        1. Harriet Hall says:

          Consumer protection is also about truth in advertising. I don’t mind people choosing to take snake oil, but I object to profiteers lying about their products.

          How do you feel about regulation of tobacco? Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death; the most effective thing we could do to save lives is prohibit the sale of tobacco. Prohibition won’t work, but regulatory efforts have been at least partially successful and cigarette taxes add to the coffers.

          1. MattBowen says:

            If it comes down to truth in advertising, I don’t think that’s a very good argument either. Canadian consumers already have post-hoc protection in the ability to file lawsuits against companies for making dishonest product claims. These laws also favour consumers, as the onus is on the company to show proof that their performance representations are based on demonstrated evidence. It’s already illegal to engage in deceptive marketing, and to not have evidence before making claims.

            Anyways, to varying degrees, most advertisements don’t tell the complete truth to consumers. And most supplements are barely advertised other than the writing on the bottle (how often do you see supplement commercials?). Sure, Dr. Oz will promote random supplements every now and then, but that’s not much and wouldn’t even be covered by consumer protection since he’s not selling the supplements himself (and not in Canada). This isn’t the same monster as the advertising giant that tobacco was before regulations hit it.

            Tobacco regulation is a poor comparison, since there was(is) ample evidence of it’s harm. I haven’t seen that case made for supplements. Tobacco regulation and prevention efforts are OBVIOUSLY worth the squeeze. The benefit to human welfare and our health care dollars has been well established.

            1. After seeing the imagery in a TV ad of a “successful” knee replacement a patient was upset, she had to wait and undergo a trial prerequisite arthroscopy. She said she actually pined for the day she would get her knee replaced. NEITHER procedures are indicated if CAMs had been offered.
              She is back to normal with her natural knee joint thank her lucky stars she stumbled into the office.

              Advertising in the healthcare field; foods, supplements, wellness, medications and joint or gastric surgical options are NOT public announcements they are designed to convince someone of an idea, concept or belief for financial profits.

              IMO, if traditional medicine ads gives the impression of a superior outcome over a CAM option, then I would consider that fraud. With that in mind, I will start sending these unfair practices to the FTC and the FDA.

              1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                She is back to normal with her natural knee joint thank her lucky stars she stumbled into the office.

                How long ago was this, and when was the last time you saw her?

                How many patients do you see who have had a joint replacement and were happy with it?

                IMO, if traditional medicine ads gives the impression of a superior outcome over a CAM option, then I would consider that fraud. With that in mind, I will start sending these unfair practices to the FTC and the FDA.

                Real medical ads don’t reference CAM because CAM isn’t a real competitor. Also, the ad would have to be based on scientific research, and for that there would have to be research regarding the CAM – at which point it would become part of medicine, or would be unethical to offer.

                But yeah, you go super trooper, send those e-mails to the FTC and FDA. And your congressperson, truth in advertising would be great (in large part because CAM could no longer advertise – though even now they have to rely on the Quack Miranda Warning and vague claims because there’s no proof they work).

              2. Your response is proof that everyone here is brainwashed into thinking that SBM is the cure of what ails you. And all of CAMs have no positive effects. False assumption and flawed logic.

                SBM is as flawed as all the other medical options. In a sense more flawed and abusive because it is sanctioned by the powers that be and thus abused patient have no legal recourse.

                Pat yourself on the back for your contribution to this abuse.

                Why not set up a file of your intent and goals …. becasse you all are not using science based logic in your debates and discussions. (mostly it is what you believe)

              3. Windriven says:

                ” I will start sending these unfair practices to the FTC and the FDA.”

                Doctors all over the country will go sleepless tonight.

              4. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Your response is proof that everyone here is brainwashed into thinking that SBM is the cure of what ails you. And all of CAMs have no positive effects. False assumption and flawed logic.

                You can claim that is what we think, but that doesn’t make it true. You can claim CAM is effective, but that doesn’t make it true. Science-based medicine is imperfect, but at least it tries to improve. CAM never changes, never goes away, and always pretends its existence is justified by the flaws in real medicine.

                Just because real medicine isn’t perfect doesn’t mean CAM works.

                SBM is as flawed as all the other medical options. In a sense more flawed and abusive because it is sanctioned by the powers that be and thus abused patient have no legal recourse.

                Where do you get these ideas from? There’s no official “science based medicine” council or cabal. Science-based medicine merely has evidence to support it.

                And what’s more abusive – asking for evidence, or treating and charging customers while ignoring negative evidence, or having no evidence at all?

                Pat yourself on the back for your contribution to this abuse.

                Thanks, I am quite happy with my efforts to educate consumers and point out how CAM is a worthless waste of time, money and hope.

                Why not set up a file of your intent and goals …. becasse you all are not using science based logic in your debates and discussions. (mostly it is what you believe)

                Again, saying this doesn’t make it true. You have consistently failed to support your beliefs with any reference to science or even logic. You can show no reason why acupuncture should work, and certainly none that it does, yet you persist in claiming to be some sort of miracle-worker who heals that which science cannot touch. Why should we believe you, when you can’t muster evidence beyond “it worked for me”?

                Why can’t you present us with any scientific research that supports your beliefs?

          2. Yall are mixing science, evidence and personal beliefs, which in the SBM world or even medicine should be done with clarifications.

            Acupuncture is a vast world of disciplines, concepts and ideologies, some are rooted in ancient traditional beliefs and some in pure science. The most effective are in a class of myofascial release therapy with needles so called Myofascial Needling.

            Pure science and the truth can not be negated, sorry! The trues of both SBM and CAMs will compensate for their deficiencies which will improve clinical outcomes. So that means CAMs are a part of this pure science and is forever. CAMs must be converged back into traditional medicine for modern medicine to survive into the future.

            What you have thought through are your personal concepts. Without all the data your thoughts are flawed, incomplete and dangerous to unsuspecting people. Please let people know these are only your opinions.

            1. Frederick says:

              We don’t have all data, of course nobody has and you don’t either, and yet, you try to make peoples believes that you have more answers than everybody else. So you are doing exactly what you accused the people here to do.

              The points your are making ( hundred of time over since you basically always repeat the sames things over and overs again) are also just you opinions, and contrary to what the writers here talk about, based on no science, all your “proof” come from beliefs, that are biased, personal experience and impression are deceptive, optical illusions? never heard of them? The brain is flawed. so those impression are not at all objective and reliable.

              You want pure science? Than you should give up you beliefs and acupuncture, because pure science have demonstrated many time over, that it is not real. So get a hold of yourself, accept that fact and go forward, instead of staying in the past. Pure science is not what you want it to be when it is convenient to you. You once again demonstrated how much you don’t ( and will never) understand of the reality in which we live in.

              1. @Frederick

                We don’t have all data … you have more answers.”

                I have many, many more data points from many many references and thus different conclusions. I am NOT so bold and egotistical as to make absolute statements like “Acup does not work” which is a personal opinion. These absolute statements should NOT be pawned off on the untrained or the public as a Scientific Conclusion like E=MC².

                My opinion is based on no science??!! Sorry that is false and deceptive.

                YES! My opinions are my opinions which are base on all the data collected from the past 100 yrs. Remember I’m just the messenger so killing me will not kill the data or concepts.

                The fact that you have not heard of them means you need to do more studying … you would be foolish not to do this for yourself. I hope you are not in an administrative position.

                “accept that fact and go forward, instead of staying in the past.”

                The past is a valuable place full of ideas and concepts that we are still using to formulate our science today. Are you saying all of that data is irrelevant because it was not collected in a vacuum?

                Test Question:
                How would you treat a Trigeminal Neuralgia patient who has FAILED open brain surgery, implanted E-stim, many courses of botox and is on high dose opiates?

                If you don’t offer this patient the CAMs that I’ve referred to, that would be inhumane.

              2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                I have many, many more data points from many many references and thus different conclusions. I am NOT so bold and egotistical as to make absolute statements like “Acup does not work” which is a personal opinion.

                If your data points are systematically biased by credulous patients and you forgetting about or ignoring those patients who didn’t improve (or who responded solely through placebo effects), then you aren’t really getting a sense of whether acupuncture works at all, are you?

                While you may not be willing to make an absolute statement that acupuncture doesn’t work, you sure are willing, despite all the scientific evidence to the contrary, to say it absolutely does work. Hypocrite.

                These absolute statements should NOT be pawned off on the untrained or the public as a Scientific Conclusion like E=MC².

                Why are your absolute statements trustworthy? Do you know who else was convinced of the absolute efficacy of their treatments? Bloodletters, and orthopedic surgeons who debrided knee cartilage. Evidence proved both to be wrong.

                My opinion is based on no science??!! Sorry that is false and deceptive. YES! My opinions are my opinions which are base on all the data collected from the past 100 yrs. Remember I’m just the messenger so killing me will not kill the data or concepts.

                That’s not science. Again, personal experience is unworthy, bloodletters, witchdoctors, priests of Thoth, orthopedic surgeons, all were convinced that they healed patients and they were wrong. Your opinions are not based on 100 years worth of data, because that data shows acupuncture to be irrelevant and worthless, a powerful placebo and nothing else. You don’t even know about the data, you’ve never provided any scientific reference to support your assertions.

                The fact that you have not heard of them means you need to do more studying … you would be foolish not to do this for yourself. I hope you are not in an administrative position.

                So help me out, provide me with some of that amazing convincing data I’ve somehow missed out on there champ.

                The past is a valuable place full of ideas and concepts that we are still using to formulate our science today. Are you saying all of that data is irrelevant because it was not collected in a vacuum?

                Aside from being a meaningless sentence, I’ll point out that something either works or doesn’t – stuff that was popular in the past should still work now under scientific testing conditions.

                Why doesn’t acupuncture?

                Test Question:

                How would you treat a Trigeminal Neuralgia patient who has FAILED open brain surgery, implanted E-stim, many courses of botox and is on high dose opiates?

                If you don’t offer this patient the CAMs that I’ve referred to, that would be inhumane.

                Not with acupuncture, that’s for sure, like you the testers of TN and acupuncture didn’t understand science.

            2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              Steve, you have no data. Why are you criticizing us for having “flawed” data when you have nothing to present that supports your claims? Your statements are indistinguishable from a toddler claiming his toys come alive when no grownups are around.

              1. Frederick says:

                you don’t even understand how you “data” which are testimonies and pass along tradition, are no use, well not totally true, science use that to, saying “well there’s is maybe something” and test it and repeat it again, and when it fail ( like your acupuncture) to have any real effect, well we have our answer it does not work more than placebo. case close, move away, go forward. stop waste time with it.

                If all you need is just “it has been known for 1000′S of year, and use for long time = it’s real” you might as well believe that the earth is flat, because the whole human race had once believed that for a long time, and guess what, it turns out to be false. I have nothing about looking in the past to see something, there’s thing that work and had been proven to work, but when it fail to prove it’s value, you just let it go.
                That’s science, anyway, you are a total waste of My 24 watt of brain power ( The brain using around 24 watt!! thank SGU i learn stuff!). looking a cats video on youtube is more useful. you’ll come back with the same empty rhetoric you always use.

  7. stanmrak says:

    Many of the reasons given for not reporting adverse effects for supplements applies just as well to pharmaceuticals. I’ve seen estimates of the rate of reporting adverse effects from prescription drugs to be around 10 percent of the actual number suspected. Many people get side effects but don’t connect it to some drug they’re taking. And when you’re taking multiple prescriptions simultaneously, so you’re obviously already ill, how would you know if a symptom is due to some drug interaction?

    1. Windriven says:

      “I’ve seen estimates of the rate of reporting adverse effects from prescription drugs to be around 10 percent of the actual number suspected.”

      You may have also seen ghosts and little green men from Uranus. We’d like to see them too, so support your assertions with verifiable citations.

      And yes, drugs have side effects. Why on earth would you expect chemicals that exert powerful, often life saving effects, not to?

    2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Many of the reasons given for not reporting adverse effects for supplements applies just as well to pharmaceuticals. I’ve seen estimates of the rate of reporting adverse effects from prescription drugs to be around 10 percent of the actual number suspected. Many people get side effects but don’t connect it to some drug they’re taking. And when you’re taking multiple prescriptions simultaneously, so you’re obviously already ill, how would you know if a symptom is due to some drug interaction?

      I agree, and the FDA should have more resources to identify, monitor and enforce laws around adverse reactions to drugs and supplements. That’s rather the point – there should be a common standard that drugs and supplements are held to, with stringent monitoring, purity, adverse events tracking, the abilty to pull from the market and efficacy enforcement abilities.

      We agree that things should be better, but I think it should be a uniform standard and you’re a hypocrite trying to protect your income.

  8. CommonSenseBoulder says:

    re: “It’s effectively a buyer-beware marketplace in most parts of the world”

    It hasn’t, which is the problem. Buyers don’t beware because they assume the government protects them. They don’t pay close attention to realize that the government isn’t really protecting them. Obviously the problem is that decisions regarding health&safety are being made for political reasons based on special interest group influence.

    To expect otherwise is as anti-intellectual as the quack treatments this blog critiques. George Stigler won his nobel prize in economics for his work on regulatory capture theory, explaining that it is to be expected that industry would capture the regulatory process and steer it to its own ends. James Buchanan won his nobel prize for the more general area of public choice, studying how governments operate in reality rather than simplistic wishful thinking, “politics without the romance” he called it.

    A better approach is to truly have the buyer beware so that they are sure that every product they buy has an appropriate expert seal of approval. However rather than a seal of approval driven by political reasons, it should be a private seal, say the “Science Based Medicine Seal of Approval”. Different seals of approval will compete for the trust of the public, critiquing each other as to why people should prefer them rather than another seal. Competition produces a better result than a 1 size fits all monopoly government approach which is decided based on politics.

    Obviously there would be a “Alternative Medicine Seal of Approval” we think is nonsense, but at least that is better than having the government’s seal of approval on quack treatments (or its implicit seal of approval via letting it be sold without any seal of approval so the public assumes it must be ok since they think the government looks out for them). Science based medicine advocates can argue better against a private seal than they can an explicit or implicit government endorsement of quackery done for political reasons.

    Seals of approval would compete for use by for instance offering insurance to back up their assessment that a product is safe.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      It hasn’t, which is the problem. Buyers don’t beware because they assume the government protects them. They don’t pay close attention to realize that the government isn’t really protecting them. Obviously the problem is that decisions regarding health&safety are being made for political reasons based on special interest group influence.

      Exactly. Imaginary like button.

      To expect otherwise is as anti-intellectual as the quack treatments this blog critiques. George Stigler won his nobel prize in economics for his work on regulatory capture theory, explaining that it is to be expected that industry would capture the regulatory process and steer it to its own ends. James Buchanan won his nobel prize for the more general area of public choice, studying how governments operate in reality rather than simplistic wishful thinking, “politics without the romance” he called it.

      Are you aware of a good, popular-level discussion of these ideas? They sound quite interesting and I’d like to know more.

      1. CommonSenseBoulder says:

        Sorry I didn’t get back to this earlier, this page has a suggested reading list:

        http://blog.skepticallibertarian.com/2014/03/08/public-choice-the-science-of-political-skepticism/
        “Public Choice: The Science of Political Skepticism
        here is an annotated suggested reading list and some available resources for those interested in learning more.”

        1. Windriven says:

          @CommonSenseBoulder

          While powerfully drawn to libertarian philosophy I don’t see it as a workable political philosophy for a slew of reasons including, perhaps most importantly, I cannot see a way to get from where we are to there.

          You argue for private sector seals of approval – a seductive notion as a thought experiment. But look at the role of the private bond rating services played in the recent financial collapse.

          1. CommonSenseBoulder says:

            re: “private bond rating services”

            The private bond rating services are a government created oligopoly whose use is required by law for some financial entities. Their business model would never have survived in a free market, it is backwards from the individual credit rating market where companies pay for the most accurate rating they can get. Free market types have warned for years about the problems with the rating system. Your comment indicates part of the problem with discussing such matters.. just like members of the public may not realize they don’t understand science, they may not realize they don’t understand policy matters either and base their views on media sound bites. Often people try to spin things as being “market failure” that were in fact government failure, but they get away with it since most people are poorly informed.

            That particular post you reply to is to a reading list about public choice theory. As one GMU economics professor puts it, people that ignore modern scholarly work on theories of government failure and based their views on simplistic wishful thinking are engaging in “witch doctory”, it is just as anti-intellectual as much of alternative medicine. Unfortunately just as some people feel they can trust their intuition and popular media level understanding of “science” to determine that they trust alternative medicine (which we question), many that don’t really know much about economics or business or political theory think they can trust government to do the right thing.

            1. WindriveNW says:

              “The private bond rating services are a government created oligopoly whose use is required by law for some financial entities. ”

              Just so, and it makes my larger point: there is no clear path from where we are to the libertarian ideal. I invite you to propose a free market in existence today that you would embrace as a paradigm; a market free from manipulation by either the government or by the participants.

              “That particular post you reply to is to a reading list about public choice theory”

              And I thank you for it. I read the Tullock paper over breakfast and plan to work through some of the others. But what I am looking for is not the theoretical. As I’ve already noted, the libertarian economic philosophy is seductive. What I am looking for is evidence that it is a practical and practicable model for the political economy of a large, twenty-first century nation.

              I am further looking for evidence that libertarianism is ultimately even desirable from a broader social perspective. An efficient economy is a tool, a means, not an end in itself. I can see a true libertarian economic model morphing malignantly into plutocracy rather easily.

  9. Catherine says:

    It’s been my observation that laws named for victims are good intentions gone awry. Lack of any evidence that it did any good whatsoever hasn’t stopped the US from taking Megans Law nationwide and now internationally. Even here, the Canadian authorities, the smart SBM folks and a majority of commentators are all missing the key ingredient. If you want to save any consumer from adverse effects, you need to publish all safety data. A mention of an effort to require companies to disclose all clinical trials data that exists for a product in an “all trials” clinical trials database doesn’t belong at the end. This is the headline!

    1. n brownlee says:

      ” A mention of an effort to require companies to disclose all clinical trials data that exists for a product in an “all trials” clinical trials database doesn’t belong at the end. This is the headline!”

      Yes! We need oversight because people CHEAT. We need stronger, better oversight because weak or corrupted oversight makes it easier for that cheating percentage.

  10. Frederick says:

    Well I Finally had time, I sent emails. I sent it to all members of the committee, I hope others did the same! I used the draft letters of bad science and some of the suggested additional thought. I did kind of translate it so i can send it to my MP too. But I need to make the finale correction before sending it. That’s going to be tomorrow, I’m tired now :-) I hope it will work!

  11. Lori says:

    My MPs response to my letter of concern – quoted from Health Canada:

    This legislation does not include provisions affecting natural health products. That is because the current regulations governing natural health products are comprehensive and take into account the unique nature and properties of these products.

    The new powers of recall, adverse reaction reporting, and label changes are all intended to better protect Canadians from the potentially serious side effects of pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices.

    Given what we know about their risk profile, these authorities are not currently necessary for natural health products. NHPs will remain regulated as they are now, under the Natural Health Product Regulations.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      They don’t seem to grasp that this isn’t a solution, it’s the problem. It treats NHP as if they were a separate class that was inherently safe and effective. All skeptics are asking for is the same standard, irrespective source.

      Is your MP a conservative? I wonder if they take a “buyer beware” combined with “meh, they have to pay taxes on it” approach.

  12. Lori says:

    Yes – he is most definitely a Conservative and a quintessential politician as well. He cautiously avoided offering any opinion one way or the other and just passed on the Health Canada response.

Comments are closed.