Thursday, October 18, 2007

"Health Freedom" groups don't always support free speech...

We weren't invited to the "Health Freedom Assembly" in Minnesota last weekend (more about that later) so I can't comment directly about it, though I do trust the reporting of News With Views and so reproduce this summary - -

"The United States Health Freedom Assembly met October 12 - 14, 2007 at the William Mitchell College of Law in Saint Paul, MN, a gathering of many of the top state, federal, and international health freedom advocates, organizations, and industry. The meeting took on a tone of extreme importance as the FDA has issued policy and obtained broad new regulatory authority over health freedom in the past 12 months.

The FDA is seeking to undermine the law known as DSHEA (Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994), the cornerstone of health freedom in America. Emboldened by its new powers the FDA is now poised to trample the first amendment rights of companies and Americans who seek to explain or understand how nutrition can support health. The FDA campaign has begun.Just as the Health Freedom Assembly got under way the FDA announced its latest assault on a dietary supplement company that sought to explain how an herbal product, backed by considerable science and many years of traditional medical use, could be of help to diabetics. At the request of the FDA, U.S. Marshals seized approximately $71,000 of goods from FulLife Natural Options, Inc., of Boca Raton, Fla., which marketed and distributed Charantea Ampalaya Capsules and Charantea Ampalaya Tea. The case highlights interference of the FDA in the dissemination of scientific information that supports natural health options, a clear violation of the first amendment – as well as the absurd use of federal police power against a well-meaning U.S. company.

The double standard is obvious. On September 27, 2007 President Bush signed the FDA Reauthorization Bill into law, ushering in sweeping changes at the FDA that now allow massive conflicts of interest, permitting the FDA to act as a pseudo drug company. During debate on this bill Congressional leaders had seriously considered a ban or severe restriction on direct to consumer drug ads, as most often the adverse side effects of drugs are seldom understood when a drug is first approved (like Vioxx). However, the media came to the defense of Big Pharma fearing they would lose billions in ad revenue. Media lawyers and lobbyists successfully lobbied Congress to block any significant restrictions on direct to consumer ads, arguing that such restrictions would violate the first amendment rights of Big Pharma!"

This interesting article is certainly correct -- there has been a double standard in the law, where "licensed" drug claims are permitted without truly adequate warnings to the public about dangerous side effects while truthful and not misleading nutrient benefit statements are blocked.

While I applaud any gathering of people who are interested in health freedom, and have great respect for several of the organizations represented, I am somewhat taken aback that this "Assembly" would exclude Natural Solutions Foundation from its past meetings.

Further, without any of the NSF trustees present and without an opportunity for response, I am surprised the responsible group would entertain calls, from at least one delegate present, to "censure" NSF... no reason given. Why, with the evident impact of NSF, would any responsible actor in the Health Freedom movement single out and attack this one NGO? Is "turf" that important?

We were heartened, however, to hear that other participants, with whom we have a cordial and cooperative relationship, stood up in our defense and this ridiculous attack was thwarted.

It is good to know we have friends... ;)

No comments: