MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

Trump and his lamentable influence on so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) have been the subject of several of my posts (see for instance here, here, and here). Now they are a thing of the past, and one may well ask how Biden and his new administration might influence the SCAM boom in the US and the rest of the world.

Joe Biden has chosen former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner, Dr. David Kessler, to lead Operation Warp Speed — the U.S. government’s program for accelerating the Covid-19 vaccine and treatments rollout. The Alliance for Natural Health seemed to think that was bad news:

Dr. David Kessler, an anti-supplement crusader, drug industry adviser, and former FDA Commissioner, has been named to Biden’s COVID-19 task force. We must push back. Action Alert!

… During that time, Kessler demonstrated his hostility towards the dietary supplement industry. The last thing we need is someone who is diametrically opposed to natural medicine in a position of power, particularly concerning how our country deals with a virus against which natural medicines like zinc, potassium, and vitamin D have demonstrated efficacy.

The record on Dr. Kessler is clear. In 1993, he took aim at the supplement industry by trying to limit the health claims supplements could make under the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990. This law gave the FDA the authority to approve disease-prevention claims for food, including supplements (for example, “adequate calcium throughout life may reduce the risk of osteoporosis”)—but Dr. Kessler said the FDA would not approve any of the proposed claims for supplements. He stood before Congress that same year and compared the supplement industry to “snake oil salesmen.”…

Dr. Kessler also serves as board chair for the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s (CSPI) Board of Directors. It is a fitting post for Dr. Kessler, as CSPI shares his negative views on dietary supplements. In particular, CSPI worked to eliminate legal structure/function claims for dietary supplements. (A structure/function claim describes the role of a nutrient on the structure or function of the body, such as “calcium builds strong bones,” or “antioxidants maintain cell integrity.”)

There is also speculation that Dr. Kessler is being considered for a more prominent role in government, such as heading up the Health and Human Services Department.

Dr. Kessler’s appointment to the COVID-19 task force is therefore particularly concerning. We are already dealing with federal agencies trying to gag doctors to prevent them from disseminating basic information about the benefits of supplements for COVID-19—supplements that were part of President Trump’s own treatment regimen. There is clear evidence to suggest many natural medicines to help prevent and treat COVID…

To me, this shows foremost that the ‘Alliance for Natural Health’ is an irresponsible lobby group for SCAM that does not hesitate to put public health at risk in order to boost the already enormous profits of the SCAM industry. If these lobbyists are unhappy, it should be good news.

Right now, Joe Biden has certainly other things on his mind than SCAM. But the appointment of Kessler is one of several indications that he intends to take much more of a pro-science, pro-public health course than his predecessor. The fact that the ‘Alliance for Natural Health’ is up in arms might be a sign that he is not likely to take SCAM fools lightly.

Personally, I am relieved that Trump is gone and I wish the new administration and the American people only the very best.

33 Responses to Joe Biden and so-called alternative medicine: progress in sight?

  • The US “dietary supplement industry” is “natural medicine”?

    I can see why they’d prefer Trump, given his own grandiose delusions and pathological relationship to the truth. 400,000 Americans already dead, and still all they care about is lying with impunity for cash.

    #GriftersGonnaGrift #KmartRouge

  • I don’t have any confidence he will address the wild west of the unregulated dietary / nutritional supplement multi billion dollar industry. Remember nothing of the sort happened when he was vice president for 8 years. You are correct Kessler is someone who tried in the past to address this problem but to no avail. Why should things be different this time? With Trump we know it was a Caveat Emptor world, but Biden’s beholding to China and self serving interests preclude any hope of change.

  • Money talks in D.C.

    “Some of the same companies that mass-produce drugs in huge chemical labs also churn out vitamin and herbal pills sold in bottles with rainbows, sunrises and flowers on their labels.”

    https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna31188920

    • Money talks in D.C. [DC = doctor of chiropractic?]

      • Instead of taking personal jabs (doesn’t that violate your own rules?), how about you blog about the SCAM within pharmaceutical companies? Or do they get a pass?

        • SO GOOD TO SEE THAT YOU HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOUR AFTER ALL!
          [btw: this is a blog about SCAM, not pharma]

          • so it’s not important who is selling the “SCAM”? Interesting.

            “Increasingly, Big Pharma and Big Herba are indistinguishable,” claims Parramore. “The very same mega-companies with gigantic chemical labs that make drugs are cooking up vitamin and herbal supplements labeled with sunny terms like ‘natural’ and ‘wholesome.’ Pfizer, Unilever, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline and other big pharmaceutical firms make or sell supplements.” While she does acknowledge there are a few small companies still in the mix, Parramore says they represent a tiny amount of the total sales in the $23 billion-a-year supplement business.

            https://pharma.elsevier.com/pharma-rd/link-big-pharma-supplement-industry/

          • “it’s not important who is selling the “SCAM””
            did I say that?
            no!
            stop playing your silly games with me; they only disclose a weird state of mind.

          • @DC: That Big Pharma are also major manufacturers of vitamin supplements is of no surprise to SBM advocates, who are already well aware of it.

            But perhaps you could go tell the crunchy granola NAAAAATURAL mob, and see what they make of it?

          • “AstraZeneca Plc is spending big to develop cancer drugs that can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars per patient annually. But in China, the British pharmaceutical giant is betting on a traditional heart remedy that can be bought for about $2.50 a pack. The product, an extract of a dietary supplement often used to lower ­cholesterol called red yeast rice, is arguably more herbal treatment than innovative medicine.”

            https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-13/astrazeneca-markets-an-herbal-based-remedy-to-expand-in-china

          • @DC: Cancer drugs != cholesterol-lowering drugs. The price of one has no relation to the price of the other. Also, around half the drugs currently in use are descended from natural sources, the study of which is called pharmacognosy. e.g. Taxol, used to treat several cancers, was derived from the bark of the Pacific yew tree.

            What Pharma generally does is identify and isolate the substances that work from amongst all the others that don’t, figure out how to improve and synthesize them reliably and in bulk (which the original, natural sources tend to be lousy at), test it in phase 2 and 3 trials to prove that it actually does what it claims to do, then sell it globally for a healthy profit (partly to keep pharma execs in luxury yachts, but also to pay for all the other research they do that doesn’t end up striking gold—of which there is a great deal more—as well as the research that does).

            It’s not a perfect system, but it’s still a damn sight better than the medicine had 100 or 200 years ago—which, incidentally, is what most CAMsters are still flogging today, so I can see how they’d be sore. (Perhaps they should swallow some willow bark?)

            As always, what matters is the evidence. If robust replicated scientific evidence shows [whatever red yeast rice extract] is safe and effective in reducing harmful cholesterol levels, then yes, it can and should become part of the mainstream medicine armamentum. If not, well I’m sure you can find plenty of Big SCAMmery Shills from Alex Jones to Gwyneth Paltrow (and Null and Mercola inbetween) only too delighted to flog the useless pablum to rubes with such outrageously inflated margins it’ll turn even the most venal of Big Pharma execs chlorophyll green in envy.

          • Maybe it just depends on who is selling it, eh?

            “Although RYR appears to be a safe and effective lipid-lowering agent, there is insufficient evidence to support the recommendation of RYR supplementation to patients.” The American Journal of Nursing, 31 Jul 2017, 117(8):46-54

            Conclusions The meta-analysis suggests that red yeast rice is an effective and relatively safe approach for dyslipidemia. However, further long-term, rigorously designed randomized controlled trials are still warranted before red yeast rice could be recommended to patients with dyslipidemia, especially as an alternative to statins.” PLoS ONE 9(6). e98611. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0098611

        • Tu quoque alert.

    • You know “whataboutism”? Well, your comment is such one.

  • “But we have heard from consumers that choosing the right multivitamin and supplement can be confusing. We have been in the multivitamin business for 30 years; people trust Centrum because it’s always been backed by science. Now with ProNutrients, Americans can feel confident about their supplement choices, and when taken with a multivitamin, either new Centrum Specialist multivitamins or Centrum multivitamin, will get key nutrients for health and wellness.”

    https://www.pfizer.com/news/press-release/press-release-detail/introducing_pronutrients_a_new_line_of_dietary_supplements_from_the_makers_of_centrum

  • Dr. Kessler is an old hand, and a well-known name, in American medical circles. No one with an interest in science and medicine should have a problem with him.

    This still says nothing about the depravity and corruption of the Democrat Party.

    • Protip: The topic here is “Complementary and Alternative Medicine”, not the Democratic Party [sic] of the USA. In deference to our gracious and most patient host, may I suggest you take your political ideations to Breitbart or Parler where they’ll be far more at home.

  • Fortunately, with all the problems that will arise from these marginally tested vaccines, Dr Kessler wont have time to devote the resources of the nanny state to protect us from supplements.

    • Was that meant to be a joke, Roger? It’s not funny. The H1N1 virus that caused the so-called Spanish Flu at the end of the first world war, killed between fifty and a hundred million people in eighteen months.

      • Pretty sure revolting Roger’s just fishing for a ban now so he can swan around playing the poor persecuted martyr as befits his messianic complexion. The millions dead from deadly COVID infections mean no more to him than the millions dead from the Nazi’s Final Solution. It’s all just useful poop in his hand, looking for someone else’s nice walls to smear.

    • “with all the problems that will arise from these marginally tested vaccines”

      [citations most definitely required]

      Yes, Roger, we get that you pleasure yourself at the thought of something going terribly wrong and causing lots of other people to suffer. But with over two million already officially dead from COVID (the real figure is likely much higher) and who knows how many more with life-changing sequelae I think it’s probably safe to say if the prevention really was much worse than the disease those injuries would’ve already been detected by phase 3 trials, where the numbers being tested are around the 50,000 mark.

      Plus, of course, there is ongoing post-market monitoring to look for any side-effects too rare for phase 3 to catch, so if problems are found with any of the vaccines now being rolled out then that will be dealt with same as it has been in the past (c.f. RotaShield).

      (And, yes, while there are past instances of Big Pharma malfeasance such as the notorious Vioxx coverup, any Big Pharma execs who lie about their COVID vaccine being safe and effective better bank enough money within three months to build themselves a rocket to Mars, which is the minimum distance they’ll need to evade a righteous public lynching.)

      Oh, and I think it hilarious you call these large phase 3 trials “marginally tested” just because they’re organized and executed in record time, while the absolute pig swill “studies” pumped out by the HCQ and Ivermectin grifters you can’t excuse hard enough as “it’s an emergency so there isn’t time to do better”. Honestly, the only consistency you ever display is in your shameless double standards and utter contempt for everyone who isn’t you.

      So, other than a damp spot, do you have anything useful to offer?

    • @Roger

      What problems? None have been apparent in trials. You’ll have to invent some. The way cranks always do.

      Would you care to detail the shortcomings of the COVID vaccine trials? And if you mention long-term problems which will not yet be apparent, would you please explain, with evidence, when this previously been a problem with vaccines and why the current vaccines will somehow miraculously be any different?

      Why haven’t Boiron, with all the money they make, funded a decent trial of a homeopathic preventative? Imagine how much money they would make when it is shown to work!

      I know why they haven’t, Roger. Do you?

    • Nonsense. Moderna’s and BioNtech/Pfizer’s Corona vaccines have been thoroughly tested in Phases I- III. Otherwise, they would not have received an authorization in the EU or the USA.

      However, if you’re referring to Sputnik V or CoronaVac, you are right. These vaccines should currently be left alone, as there is an unclear and suspicious data situation.

  • Whom grifting SCAM merchants are agin, I’m afor.

    Go Kessler!

  • Until famous actors/sports figures/celebrities quit endorsing alternative medicine, good luck. People are bought all the time and it will never change until morals/science are more important than money. President Biden has been government big shot for almost 50 years, what will change now?

    • “President Biden has been government big shot for almost 50 years, what will change now?”

      This is, at best, a dismal cop-out; a shallow excuse for taking no responsibility or action yourself.

      The key word here is “government”, which is made of people. The mere suggestion that a single person in US government should be empowered to enact sweeping state and federal policy changes unilaterally should horrify and appall all but the most ardent of fascists), so unless you’re one of those lunatic Trumper-humpers bent on destroying the Od Republic by installing its first true Emperor† then that idea isn’t even on the cards.

      If you, The People, honestly seriously want to effect change then write and call allyour Representatives en masse telling them what you want done and why—and keep on writing and calling them en masse until they actually do something about it. That is why it’s called representative democracy: because sitting around with your thumb up your ass all day lazily Twittering “how awful; someone [else] needs do something about that” doesn’t effect squat.

      † In fact, the US already had one emperor—Norton I, Emperor of the United States from 1859 to 1880—but that was more an honorific with no legislative power. Whereas last week’s 1776 LARPers really were trying to install one for realsies, before wandering off home again once they [belatedly] realized they had absolutely zero clue how and also didn’t want to miss taco night while trying to figure it out. (Which was fortunate really, as Orangists are notorious for killing republics when they get their ignorant dander up—just ask the Dutch.)

      • “If you, The People, honestly seriously want to effect change then write and call allyour Representatives en masse telling them what you want done and why—and keep on writing and calling them en masse until they actually do something about it. ”

        Why do you keep restating the obvious and assuming just because people comment on a blog, they do not know how the process of change works?

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