Have you ever wondered why, if nutritional supplements are so good, why don’t doctors recommend them more? There are thousands of published medical studies which show that nutritional supplements can be extremely effective in preventing and treating many diseases, even some types of cancer can be killed by antioxidants. So why don’t doctors use these instead of drugs which often have dangerous side effects?
Lets first look at the FDA. The FDA says that “Diseases are treated by drugs…” And only doctors can prescribe drugs. So a pharmaceutical company can create a drug, get FDA approval that it is effective against some disease or condition, then they can say that drug X is approved to treat this disease. Doctors can then prescribe that drug for that disease. Conversely, you can not say that a nutritional supplement can treat a disease since they are not drugs.
Next lets look at the pharmaceutical companies. They have worked very hard with the FDA to get all sorts of condition’s classified as a disease. Obesity once was just because you were fat and ate too much. But now obesity is classified as a disease, now you can only treat obesity with a drug. So now that the big pharmaceutical companies have many conditions classified as diseases they can create drugs to treat them. A pharmaceutical company will spend millions on developing are getting FDA approval for a drug. Then they get a patent on that drug and have a lock on that drug for 11 years and can recoup their R&D investment, plus make a nice profit.
So now we have a drug to treat a disease, how do the doctors find out about it? Well sit in a doctors waiting room for a while, especially just before lunch. You’ll see a stream of drug sales reps parading in to pitch their drugs to the doctors. I spoke to one doctor who said that is how he finds out about what is new. So why don’t drug companies market nutritional supplements to the doctors? Simple, they can’t get a patent on a vitamin, mineral, or herb, so there is no money in it.
It is interesting, the drug companies will take a vitamin or herb which is effective against a condition and will try to develop a similar molecule, but different enough to get a patent on it. One example was Saw Palmetto which is very effective against men’s prostrate issues, one drug company came up with a drug which is very similar to the active ingredient in saw palmetto. But it isn’t nearly as effective as saw palmetto and it also has some dangerous side effects – but they got a patent and they now have a drug for doctors to prescribe.
You will also hear of studies which find that a certain vitamin or mineral has no effect against some drug. Dig into these studies and you’ll find that they were often funded by pharmaceutical companies as a way to throw doubt on the effectiveness.
What is difficult for those of us in the nutritional supplement business is that we know there are more effective and more affordable alternatives to many drugs, but since they aren’t drugs we can’t say they can treat a disease. Many companies have been shut down or sanctioned by the FDA for making disease treatment claims. What we can do though is point to published scientific research which shows the effectiveness of some supplement against a disease or condition, and, by the way our product has 100mg of this nutrient in it. For example:
León H, Shibata MC, Sivakumaran S, Dorgan M, Chatterley T, Tsuyuki RT. at the Epidemiology Coordinating and Research (EPICORE) Centre, Edmonton, AB, Canada. found that:
“Fish oil supplementation was associated with a significant reduction in deaths from cardiac causes…“
Now I can’t say fish oil capsules treat cardiac disease because it is only fish oil – a food, but an intelligent person could make the connection.
Unfortunately big pharma is too big and is too tight with the FDA to ever change this, so it is up to the consumer to search for the truth.