As pharma companies underwrite three-fourths of the FDA’s budget for scientific reviews, the agency is increasingly fast-tracking expensive drugs with significant side effects and unproven health benefits. Nuplazid, a drug for hallucinations and delusions associated with Parkinson’s disease, failed two clinical trials. In a third trial, under a revised standard for measuring its effect, it showed minimal benefit. Overall, more patients died or had serious side effects on Nuplazid than after receiving no treatment. Patients on Uloric, a gout drug, suffered more heart attacks, strokes and heart failure in two out of three trials than did their counterparts on standard or no medication. Nevertheless, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved both of these drugs — with a deadly aftermath. Uloric’s manufacturer reported last November that patients on the drug were 34 percent more likely to die from heart disease than people taking an alternative gout medication. And since the FDA fast-tracked approval of Nuplazid and it went on the market in 2016 at a price of $24,000 a year, there have been 6,800 reports of adverse events for patients on the drug, including 887 deaths as of this past March 31. The FDA is increasingly green-lighting expensive drugs despite dangerous or little-known side effects and inconclusive evidence that they curb or cure disease. Once widely assailed for moving slowly, today the FDA reviews and approves drugs faster than any other regulatory agency in the world.
ANH members played a key role in thwarting efforts to eliminate access to personalized medicine. Two years ago, the FDA released a draft guidance saying that a compounding pharmacy (a pharmacy that makes customized medicines for individual patients) cannot register as both an “outsourcing” (503B) and a traditional (503A) facility. We issued an action alert to ANH members to speak out against this policy and submitted detailed legal comments drafted by our general counsel. The agency just released the final guidance, and the FDA listened to our criticisms. The bottom line is that this change will make it much easier for many compounding pharmacies to stay in business, meaning patients will be better able to get the medicines, such as nutrient IV infusions and bioidentical hormones like progesterone and estriol, that they need. This is an important victory.
Most Americans are oblivious to the huge annual burden of chronic illness, injuries and deaths linked to vaccines. Some of the blame for the public’s ignorance belongs to a complicit media that “pretends that vaccine-related injuries do not occur.” However, the lion’s share of culpability for the buried story likely rests with the two federal agencies charged with vaccine oversight—the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—both of which regularly engage in various forms of deception to uphold their bland narrative that vaccines are unambiguously safe. One of the most significant criticisms has to do with the FDA’s and CDC’s business-as-usual reliance on external experts with financial ties to the pharmaceutical companies and/or products that they are evaluating. Little has changed since a congressional Committee on Government Reform outlined this problem nearly two decades ago. The Reform Committee examined the doings of the FDA’s Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC), which determines whether new vaccines should be licensed, and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which recommends vaccines for inclusion in the childhood vaccine schedule. The congressional committee noted that FDA and CDC advisory committee members and chairpersons own stock in the vaccine companies under consideration, as well as own vaccine patents. The CDC “grants conflict of interest waivers to every member of their advisory committee a year at a time and allows full participation in the discussions leading up to a vote by every member,” even if a member has a financial stake in the decision.
Recently, top-tier autoimmunity researchers described vaccine safety science as a “hazardous occupation.” In their view, this is because uncompromising vaccine proponents are instantly ready to mount vociferous personal attacks on anyone who raises questions about any aspect of vaccine safety, even if the questions are buttressed by impeccable, high-quality science. Vaccine safety was not always such a taboo topic. In 1961, a leading polio researcher put forth the view in Science that “even after licensing, a new vaccine product must be considered to be on trial” because of the many “new variables” that accompany large-scale vaccine production and rollout. A leading Food and Drug Administration (FDA) official contended in 1999 that modern advances in vaccine technology were rapidly “outpacing researchers” ability to predict potential vaccine-related adverse events” and argued for closer attention to safety issues from the earliest stages of vaccine development. “One of the important things is that the technology used to make these vaccines actually exceeds the science and technology to understand how these vaccines work and to predict how they will work,” stated Dr. Peter Patriarca, MD, Director of the Viral Products Division of the FDA Center for Biological Evaluation and Research (CBER). “So this has the potential for ending up in a situation which I call a 'black box' vaccine referring to a situation of unforeseen and unpredictable vaccine outcomes.” Dr. Patriarca also voiced concerns that with live attenuated vaccines “there is the potential for these vaccines, many of which have been poorly characterized, to recombine with viruses that may be present in the vaccine. Some of these viruses are latent and persist for a while, so it is very important to assure that these things are safe before they are given to people.” In the two decades since the FDA official’s prescient words of warning, numerous published studies have highlighted vaccine safety concerns that were either unexplored or neglected prior to the introduction of the vaccines in question.
FDA wants to act as your physician and regulate your access to customized medications. Action Alert! With its new guidance, the FDA is further tightening the screws on pharmacies that produce customized medications for individual patients. The agency is inserting itself into the role of “doctor” by deciding for patients whether there is a “clinical need” for certain medicines to be made at pharmacies. The reason? We believe they want to protect the monopoly of FDA-approved drugs. In its latest guidance, the FDA is signaling that it will further restrict the medicines that can be made at outsourcing pharmacies by adopting a stringent definition of “clinical need” if there is already an FDA-approved drug for a given condition.
The FDA wants to up-end the homeopathic industry—because it’s become too popular. Help us stop this insanity! Action Alert! Considering the myriad public health problems facing this country, including the opioid epidemic and the overuse of antibiotics, it is ludicrous that the agency is focusing on homeopathic drugs. Could it be that, like supplements, homeopathic drugs compete with pharmaceutical drugs? Recall, too, that the FDA has announced that they are targeting alternatives to opioids in the midst of an epidemic of opioid addiction that is killing 115 Americans every day. We must encourage our senators and representatives to sign on to the Hatch and Costello letters and send a clear message to the FDA: the previous regulatory policy was sufficient to ensure consumer access to safe homeopathic remedies, and we don’t need to fix what isn’t broken.
In one fell swoop, the FDA has declared that virtually every single homeopathic drug on the market is being sold illegally. The FDA says that it does not intend to take action against such products at this time, but the writing is on the wall. If it wants to, the FDA could go after any homeopathic drug currently on the market. FDA’s process started two years ago, when the agency held a public hearing to evaluate its enforcement policies for homeopathic products. We suspected the agency was planning to tighten its grip on homeopathy, which, after all, competes with the pharmaceutical drugs that fund the FDA. We cannot let the FDA eliminate consumer access to homeopathy.
Is the European Medical Agency Experimenting on Babies with the Meningitis Vaccine Only Approved for Age 10 and Above?
In 2016, we published an article on the dangers of the meningitis B vaccination, Bexsero, titled, Are Ineffective New Meningitis B Vaccines Causing Harm to Children? At the time of publication, according to the FDA product information leaflet, the vaccine had in fact only been approved for children over the age of ten. Despite this fact however, in the UK, the meningitis B vaccine Bexsero is being administered to infants as young as 2 months, despite the fact that we could find no evidence to support that this vaccine was safe to be administered to babies. It has been brought to our attention that there are in fact two product information leaflets on the same vaccination. However, what is different about the second product information leaflet, published on January 14, 2015, by the European Medical Agency (EMA) is that the information that it provides, is the polar opposite, of the information provided by the FDA. Is the UK government conducting clinical trials on infants, and if they are, then are parents aware of this fact?
Last year, we told you about the FDA’s massive attack on supplements that came in the form of a guidance document. That guidance is meant to provide clarity to supplement companies regarding “new supplements”—referred to as new dietary ingredients, or NDIs. The FDA’s proposed NDI notification process remains one of the largest threats to the supplement industry ever.
Vinpocetine, a natural nootropic (nōəˈträpik), is an active ingredient in several brain boosting supplement formulas. It is also sold as an inexpensive supplement by itself. Nootropics are neurologically active memory and cognitive enhancers, promoting well being and learning potential. It is the sole ingredient of an Eastern European medicine, used since 1978 for recovering stroke victims and other neurological issues called Cavinton. Its use has spread throughout Asia and other parts of Europe. Both Cavinton and Vinpocetine, extracted from the periwinkle plant, have been tested, studied, and tried internationally for several neurological issues with mostly highly positive results since 1978. Along the way, other benefits were discovered related to heart health, vision, hearing, and more. Now there is a current controversy involving the FDA and a Missouri Senator seeking to restrict public access to this supplement which has a long history of use outside the U.S.