From: David on

PeterB wrote:

> So how do you propose to protect people, other than informing them
> about the dangers of medication, or cigarettes, or iron supplements?


I'm not saying it would be easy (by *any* means!) to implement, but I
believe the following would be beneficial for patients in the long run:

1) government regulation of nutritional supplement contents, such that
consumers can be assured that the label is telling the truth about
what's in the supplement. This is the #1 complaint I hear over and
over again from medical clinicians, and it undercuts all of the other
arguments for nutritional supplements. When a fellow clinician tells
me, "it doesn't matter what the research may say.....if I don't have
some independent assurance that the product at least contains what the
label says, then I don't know what it's going to do to my patient."

2) for relatively benign supplements with possible (albeit minor) side
effects--proper warning labels

3) for supplements with possible dangerous side effects--make them
prescription-only. That way, medical practitioners (including
physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners as well as
pharmacists) can act as a safety buffer, and at the same time,
clinicians will become far more educated about supplements since they
would now be responsible for prescribing them.

From: David on

Dr. Zarkov wrote:

>The right to control what we put into our own bodies is absolute--even if we make bad
>choices in exercising that right. I never asked the government for such protection. I'll
>decide what's appropriate to put into my own body and live with the consequences


Ok, but there are billions of other people in this world in addition to
you. Do you care about them?

> Anyone marketing any product should be and generally is fully liable for
> any harm that a dangerous product causes.

Maybe in theory, but proving that a given compound caused a particular
side effect or death is immensely difficult, expensive, and
time-consuming, involving lawyers and lawsuits! In fact, it's nearly
impossible to do, especially if there has been no approval process
where a company has had to do rigorous scientific research to
demonstrate relative safety, effectiveness, and establish any known
side effects. If the supplement company doesn't know anything about
the side effect or drug interaction, chances are that they're *not*
going to be held responsible.

From: Dr. Zarkov on
David wrote:
> Dr. Zarkov wrote:
>
>>The right to control what we put into our own bodies is
absolute--even if we make bad
>>choices in exercising that right. I never asked the government for
such protection. I'll
>>decide what's appropriate to put into my own body and live with the
consequences
>
>
> Ok, but there are billions of other people in this world in addition to
> you. Do you care about them?


Certainly. What I advocate would preserve the freedom of everyone to
choose; it would not force anyone to do so. Banning certain products
based on government decree takes away individual freedom and forces
everyone to follow the dictates of government bureaucrats.


>>Anyone marketing any product should be and generally is fully liable for
>>any harm that a dangerous product causes.
>
>
> Maybe in theory, but proving that a given compound caused a particular
> side effect or death is immensely difficult, expensive, and
> time-consuming, involving lawyers and lawsuits! In fact, it's nearly
> impossible to do, especially if there has been no approval process
> where a company has had to do rigorous scientific research to
> demonstrate relative safety, effectiveness, and establish any known
> side effects. If the supplement company doesn't know anything about
> the side effect or drug interaction, chances are that they're *not*
> going to be held responsible.


Those "immensely difficult, expensive, and time-consuming" lawsuits are
undertaken all the time in cases of drugs as well as many other products
(and often won). They're called class action lawsuits. If a company
markets a product without any background information or tests for safety
and without the current approval process, it almost certainly would be
held liable for any major ill effects. Hell, companies are often held
liable now even after going through all kinds of testing and the formal
approval process.

But again, why not let consumers decide for themselves whether they are
willing to take the risk of buying a non-approved product. As long as
such products are clearly labeled as such (e.g., not proved safe or
effective), that is their right.

From: David on

Dr. Zarkov wrote:
> Banning certain products
> based on government decree takes away individual freedom and forces
> everyone to follow the dictates of government bureaucrats.

One could make the same argument for drugs that are currently
prescription-only. Do you advocate making all drugs over-the-counter?
And if so, what do you think would be the overall end result when it
comes to drug side-effects, drug interactions, etc.?


> Those "immensely difficult, expensive, and time-consuming" lawsuits are
> undertaken all the time in cases of drugs as well as many other products
> (and often won). They're called class action lawsuits.

Yes, but my point is that it's much more difficult to bring a class
action lawsuit with regard to an herbal or nutritional supplement
because supplement companies aren't required to do studies looking at
potential side-effects, potential negative drug/herbal interactions,
etc. Since they aren't required to do that by law, it's much more
difficult if not impossible for the consumer to make a case in court by
saying "the company knew about side effect x but didn't adequately warn
the consumer!"


> But again, why not let consumers decide for themselves whether they are
> willing to take the risk of buying a non-approved product. As long as
> such products are clearly labeled as such (e.g., not proved safe or
> effective), that is their right.

If everyone had the educational background to make such a decision
competently, then this idealistic principle might work, but again, most
people don't have such a background, and many people (even
otherwise-highly intelligent ones!) fall prey to clever marketing
schemes that, because of current legal loopholes, are not backed up by
reliable research data. I for one don't believe that these people
should just be thrown to the wolves!!

From: Robert W. McAdams on
David wrote:
> Dr. Zarkov wrote:
>
>>Those "immensely difficult, expensive, and time-consuming" lawsuits are
>>undertaken all the time in cases of drugs as well as many other products
>>(and often won). They're called class action lawsuits.
>
>
> Yes, but my point is that it's much more difficult to bring a class
> action lawsuit with regard to an herbal or nutritional supplement
> because supplement companies aren't required to do studies looking at
> potential side-effects, potential negative drug/herbal interactions,
> etc. Since they aren't required to do that by law, it's much more
> difficult if not impossible for the consumer to make a case in court by
> saying "the company knew about side effect x but didn't adequately warn
> the consumer!"

But if the manufacturers were required by law to carry a prominent
warning (covering, say, half the label) whose text was written by the
FDA, then consumers would be adequately warned.

>>But again, why not let consumers decide for themselves whether they are
>>willing to take the risk of buying a non-approved product. As long as
>>such products are clearly labeled as such (e.g., not proved safe or
>>effective), that is their right.
>
>
> If everyone had the educational background to make such a decision
> competently, then this idealistic principle might work, but again, most
> people don't have such a background, and many people (even
> otherwise-highly intelligent ones!) fall prey to clever marketing
> schemes that, because of current legal loopholes, are not backed up by
> reliable research data. I for one don't believe that these people
> should just be thrown to the wolves!!

But if the manufacturers were required by law to carry a prominent
warning (covering, say, half the label) whose text was written by the
FDA, then the FDA would have adequate space to refute any clever
marketing schemes that were used on the other half of the label.


Bob