A study found that many Americans believe that “The Food and Drug Administration is deliberately preventing the public from getting natural cures for cancer and other diseases because of pressure from drug companies (1).” It is common to characterize people who believe in this statement as “a delusional fringe of paranoid cranks (1).” However, the authors of the study disagree. They wrote that “our data suggest that medical conspiracy theories are widely known, broadly endorsed, and highly predictive of many common health behaviors. Rather than viewing medical conspiracism as indicative of a psychopathological condition, we can recognize that most individuals who endorse these narratives are otherwise ‘normal' (1).” The study showed that while 37% of the American public believes that the FDA and drug companies are corrupted, a smaller number (32%) disagrees.
In other words, normal, everyday Americans believe that the FDA and drug companies engage in fraudulent behavior. The CBCD argues that it is only logical that a growing number of Americans are losing trust in the FDA. But, why are these Americans losing trust?
These beliefs do not arise out of a vacuum. They do not appear out of thin air. The crowd has seen smoke coming from the FDA for a long time. There is no smoke without a fire. But where is the fire? Where is the smoking gun?
A major event occurred recently. “In March 2000, President Clinton created the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy. The purpose of the commission was to ‘Study and report on public policy issues in the rapidly expanding field of complimentary and alternative medicine (also known as CAM).' Furthermore, the commission was asked to report on ‘legislative and administrative recommendations to assure that public policy maximizes the benefits to Americans of appropriate use of complimentary and alternative medicine.” (See Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States, from 2005) (2).
Since then, public awareness and use of complimentary and alternative medicines (which includes herbalism, vitamins, and minerals) has grown. In fact, as of 2007 “In the United States, approximately 38 percent of adults (about 4 in 10) and approximately 12 percent of children (about 1 in 9) are using some form of CAM.” (See the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, from December 2008) (3). In addition, it's important to emphasize that those who use natural remedies are normal, everyday Americans, well educated, with high income. “People of all backgrounds use CAM. However, CAM use among adults is greater among women and those with higher levels of education and higher incomes (3).”
Is it possible that the increase in the use of natural remedies caused drug companies to lose money? Is it possible that as a result, drug companies try to block the trend toward natural treatments? And finally, is it possible that to prevent further losses, drug companies try to prevent the development of natural cures, such as those for cancer and other diseases?
Is there evidence that the drug companies paid off FDA officials to keep natural treatments and cures off the market? After all, one study found that there is “quantitative evidence that…the (drug) industry started making large contributions to the FDA for reviewing its drugs.” (See The Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics (JLME), from June 1, 2013) (4). Is it possible that the public mistrusts the FDA precisely because of its relationship with the drug companies?
It's interesting that the public answers “yes” to all of these questions. The CBCD believes it is partly due to a letter that was sent to President Obama by FDA staff, which warns the President about corruption at all levels of the FDA. “Sweeping measures are needed to end the systemic corruption and wrongdoing that permeates all levels of FDA and has plagued the Agency far too long.” (See The Department of Health and Human Services, from 2009) (5). In addition the letter says that “FDA managers who have failed to protect the American public, who have violated laws, rules, and regulations, who have suppressed or altered scientific or technological findings and conclusions, who have abused their power and authority, and who have engaged in illegal retaliation against those who speak out, have not been held accountable and remain in place (5).”
This letter was certified as legitimate on March 2010 by the FDA itself.
Is it then any wonder that more Americans believe that the FDA is corrupted, and that the Agency is deliberately preventing the public from getting natural cures?
What is the FDA's source of power?
The first source is the Agency's ability to legally enforce laws and regulations. The second source is the public's perception of the Agency as an unbiased entity that provides health and food related guidance and direction. The CBCD believes the second source has a much greater impact on the American public than the Agency's ability to file charges. As the study above shows, there is a serious erosion of this very important source of the FDA's power.
“The public image of the FDA as this great public watchdog, protecting it from snake oil salesmen, damaging drugs, and products that don't live up to their claims, is tarnished. If the FDA continues to engage in corrupt practices, its image will be further damaged, and the Agency will find itself marginalized in the public's eye.” - Greg Bennett, CBCD
The CBCD believes that unless the government institutes wide-ranging reforms aimed at ending corruption at the FDA, the public may be wise to continue to ignore statements and pronouncements of “safety” or lack thereof made by the Agency.
Further, the CBCD urges the public to demand that the Obama administration insists on a review of FDA practices, and a full investigation into allegations of corruption at the Agency. Otherwise, the American public may continue to be deprived of natural treatments that could compete with products sold by the pharmaceutical industry.
For more information on the Center for the Biology of Chronic Disease, or to schedule an interview with one of our researchers, please visit http://www.cbcd.net or call 585-250-9999.
(1) Medical Conspiracy Theories and Health Behaviors in the United States. Published on March 17, 2014. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24638266
(2) Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States. Published in 2005.
(3) National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) - The Use of Complimentary and Alternative Medicine in the United States. Published in December 2008.
(4) Harvard University - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics (JLME) - Risky Drugs: Why the FDA Cannot Be Trusted. Published on June 1, 2013.
(5) Department of Health and Human Services - Food and Drug Administration. Published April 2, 2009.
The Center for the Biology of Chronic Disease (CBCD, http://www.cbcd.net) is a research center recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) non-for-profit organization.
The mission of the CBCD is to advance the research on the biology of chronic diseases, and to accelerate the discovery of treatments for these diseases.
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Company Name: CBCD
Contact Person: The Center for the Biology of Chronic Disease
Country: United States
Release ID: 38115