when alt med acts a lot like big pharma

February 20, 2011

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I strive to have something up every day. But while the last time I took a day or two off was a particularly nasty case of strep, yesterday was just a day off. After a busy week filled with a small blizzard of little projects and trying to wrap up my thesis paper, my schedule just got to me and I had to pull the plug on everything for just a little bit. Today I’m back with something the skeptic in you will find either amusing or ridiculous, or maybe even both depending on your sense of humor. Last year, I did what I tend to do quite a bit around here and wrote a rant about the double standards for alt med businesses as legally allowed and encouraged by DSHEA, wondering why the alt med industry doesn’t stop trash talking about their pharmacological competitors but get their concotions tested, licensed, and shown to be safer and more effective in clinical trials. Now, in the U.S. there’s a lobby protesting even the slightest change to DSHEA so no quack could ever be deprived of his right to sell snake oil, but in the EU, a recent update to a directive on herbal potions requires every remedy to be licensed to avoid any toxic or contaminated pills on the shelves.

And of course, alt med practitioners respectful of people’s safety over profits, unlike those crude, careless, or downright evil peddlers of drugs on the top floors of the skyscrapers owned by Big Pharma, and started to get together and figure out how to best comply with the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive and get all their products licensed. Oh. Wait. No, they just threw a huge temper tantrum and started a petition to reverse the directive while complaining that the THMPD will cut into their profits because it will take plenty of cash for manufacturers to stay compliant and licensed throughout the EU. You know, kind of like every pharmaceutical firm has to pay for millions for studies and government approval before it’s allowed to sell its newest pills to a target market and how this regulation and the requirement for scientific merit and legitimacy means that most drug makers have to sink between $800 million and $1 billion into getting a product from the lab to the corner pharmacy. Meanwhile, all alt med potion mixers have to do is to say that their product is natural (which would imply that drug makers must use supernatural ingredients), and presto, they can sell whatever they want. But now, being required to just get a license, not actually test product efficacy, mind you, just get a license, and an industry that cares so much about the people is at arms and pushing its old anti-science tropes…

While it benefits citizens for governmental agencies to advise on efficacy and safety of products by utilizing a particular method of inquiry, [it] may not address the needs of individuals and presumes that there is only one system for obtaining accurate and beneficial information. That is equivalent to allowing only one religion as the accepted source of truth.

Really, so giving people cold medicine, homeopathic pills, or nothing at all, and then comparing how well the people feel along with how fast they get over their cold by using either the accepted treatment, homeopathy, or just suffering through their colds and replicating the study several times is the same thing as seeking a divine reply to one’s question in a holy book? Maybe if you can’t tell the difference between objective fact and studies on a particular subject, and prayer, you shouldn’t be telling people to trust you with their lives because you’re a menace at worst and a waste of time and money at best. And again, note that this reaction is based on the fact that the licensing requirements will cut into quacks’ profits. You know profits, the things for which so many alt med sites and pundits cast pharmaceutical companies as the right hand of Satan on Earth and use to justify their participation in some New World Order conspiracy to thin the human population by tricking people into a chemical dependency on lethal toxins. But if some of their tens of billions in annual cash flows will have to go to a licensing commission, they act suspiciously like Big Pharma, rallying their forces to repel laws that exist to make sure that they don’t take shortcuts in the lab or the manufacturing facility. So what does one call people whose actions are the exact opposite of their rhetoric? Oh yeah, hypocrites.

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  • Professor Layman

    Wow. Religion being used in an argument that has questionable ethics, in an argument that isn’t even about Religion.

    Is there anything it can’t be abused for?