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Death by Regulation

March 2005

By William Faloon

Defending the Free Market

In the late 1980s, Life Extension led the charge that blocked the FDA from gaining totalitarian powers under the guise of needing to “protect” the public against “dangerous vitamin supplements.” We then turned this anti-FDA momentum into an onslaught of letter writing to Congress that resulted in the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994.

DSHEA may be coming under siege, as increasing numbers of Americans are switching to safe, low-cost dietary supplements in lieu of side effect-prone, expensive prescription drugs.


As you can see in Table 3, prescription drug prices have skyrocketed over the past 10 years. The cost of supplements, on the other hand, has significantly declined, as shown on Table 1.

The reason for this disparity is that stringent FDA regulations protect prescription drugs against competition. Dietary supplements, in contrast, became free-market commodities back in 1994 with the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA).

Once the FDA deregulated dietary supplements, manufacturers sought more efficient methods of producing high-quality, high-volume ingredients. New companies began producing the active ingredients that go into the thousands of supplements on the US market.

The competitive forces of the free market have kept steady downward pressure on dietary supplement prices, while regulated drugs have become obscenely expensive. The arcane regulatory structure that limits innovation also protects drug prices against competitive forces.

The cover of the November 29, 2004, issue of Forbes magazine was titled “Pharma’s New Enemy: Clean Living.” The cover graphic shows a hand dropping prescription drug pills into the garbage can, with the subtitle, “Throw Out Your Prozac®, Your Nexium®, and Your Ambien®.”

The Forbes article described natural lifestyle changes that have enabled people to reduce or eliminate prescription drugs. The article also quoted mainstream doctors saying that Americans are overmedicating with side effect-prone drugs whose benefits are exaggerated by the drug companies.

Clearly, drug companies have an emerging new competitor: sellers of dietary supplements. There appears to be a concerted effort to discredit the safety and value of dietary supplements. The media is fed blatantly false and misleading reports about supplements, and then turns these stories into headline news because so many Americans now take vitamins.34,35 Congressional investigations have revealed how drug companies spend enormous amounts of money to persuade the media to publish stories that are favorable to their industry.36

Shortly after Merck withdrew Vioxx® from the market, the media disseminated a negative report about vitamin E that contained so many omissions that its conclusions had no basis in fact.37-38

The Life Extension Foundation analyzed every statement in this negative report, and we are including a thorough and meticulous rebuttal in this issue of Life Extension. In this instance, the media was duped into facilitating a massive deception against aging people who are in critical need of antioxidants to stave off degenerative diseases.

For longer life,

William Faloon


1. Available at: http://www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/p60-226.pdf. Accessed December 30, 2004.

2. Available at: http://www.socioeconomic.org/Healthcare__/Healthcare_for_the_Third_Mille/healthcare_for_the_third_mille.HTM. Accessed December 30, 2004.

3. Available at: http://www.independent.org/publications/article.asp?id=279. Accessed December 30, 2004.

4. Available at: http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2000/july2000_cover_story.html. Accessed December 30, 2004.

5. Available at: http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2002/oct2002_awsi_01.html. Accessed December 30, 2004.

6. Available at: http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2003/oct2003_cover_victory_01.htm. Accessed December 30, 2004.

7. Available at: http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2003/oct2003_awsi_01.html. Accessed December 30, 2004.

8. Available at: http://www.washtimes.com/national/20041126-111219-1356r.htm. Accessed December 30, 2004.

9. Available at: http://www.cnn.com/2004/HEALTH/11/18/vioxx.safety.ap/. Accessed December 30, 2004.

10. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type= topNews&storyID=6859823. Accessed December 30, 2004.

11. Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A8715- 2004Nov23?language=printer. Accessed December 30, 2004. FDA whistleblower gets colleagues’ support. Wall Street Journal. December 10, 2004.

12. Available at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi0412070255dec07,1, 5052840.story. Accessed December 30, 2004. The other drug war. “Frontline” PBS television. June 19, 2003.

13. Available at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/other/etc/synopsis.html. Accessed December 30, 2004.

14. Available at: http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2004/mar2004_awsi_01.htm. Accessed December 30, 2004.

15. Available at: http://www.nchc.org/facts/cost.shtml. Accessed December 30, 2004.

16. Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A54736-2004May25.html. Accessed December 30, 2004.

17. Available at: http://www.pnhp.org/news/2004/november/companies_sue_union_.php. Accessed December 30, 2004.

18. Available at: http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB110003711129469246,00.html. Accessed December 30, 2004.

19. Available at: http://democrats.senate.gov/dpc/dpc-doc.cfm?doc_name=fs-108-2-204. Accessed December 30, 2004.

20. Available at: http://www.aarp.org/bulletin/medicare/Articles/a2004-09-29-medicarehike.html. Accessed December 30, 2004.

21. Available at: http://www.nowfoods.com/?action=itemdetail&item_id=1276. Accessed December 30, 2004.

22. Available at: http://www.newmediaexplorer.org/chris/2004/03/25/few_problems_occur_mixing_supplements_drugs.htm. Accessed December 30, 2004.

23. Available at: http://www.amsa.org/hp/crisis.cfm. Accessed December 30, 2004.

24. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/drug/drugReactions/default.htm. Accessed December 30, 2004.

25. Available at: http://www.drugintel.com/pharma/cause_of_death.htm. Accessed December 30, 2004.

26. Available at: http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/ 9804/14/drug.reaction. Accessed December 30, 2004.

27. Available at: http://heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=16131. Accessed December 30, 2004.

28. Available at: http://www.aarp.org/legislative/prescriptiondrugs/rxprices/. Accessed December 30, 2004.

29. Lazarou J, Pomeranz, B, Corey, P. Incidence of adverse drug reactions in hospitalized patients: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. JAMA. 1998 Apr 15;279(15):1200-5.

30. Available at: http://www.vaccinationnews.com/DailyNews/August2001/AdvDrugReactKillMany.htm. Accessed December 30, 2004.

31. Available at: http://www.heall.com/healingnews/nov/medication.html. Accessed December 30, 2004.

32. Available at: http://www.motherjones.com/news/qa/2004/09/09_401.html. Accessed December 30, 2004.

33. Available at: http://www.herbalgram.org/default.asp?c=073000press. Accessed December 30, 2004.

34. Available at: http://www.supplementquality.com/editorials/MSNBC_biased.html. Accessed December 30, 2004.

35. Available at: http://www.newmediaexplorer.org/sepp/2003/06/03/drug_companies_spend_ millions_lobbying.htm. Accessed December 30, 2004.

36. Available at: http://www.crnusa.org/vitaminEwhatconsumersneed.html. Accessed December 30, 2004.

37. Available at: http://www.crnusa.org/vitaminEquestions.html. Accessed December 30, 2004.

38. Available at: http://www.crnusa.org/vitaminEmetanalysis.html. Accessed December 30, 2004.