Dr. David Kessler, an anti-supplement crusader, drug industry adviser, and former FDA Commissioner, has been named to Biden’s COVID-19 task force. We must push back. Action Alert!
Dr. Kessler has been named co-chair of President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 task force. Dr. Kessler was FDA commissioner between 1990 and 1997. During that time, Kessler demonstrated his hostility towards the dietary supplement industry. The last thing we need is someone who is diametrically opposed to natural medicine in a position of power, particularly concerning how our country deals with a virus against which natural medicines like zinc, potassium, and vitamin D have demonstrated efficacy.
The record on Dr. Kessler is clear. In 1993, he took aim at the supplement industry by trying to limit the health claims supplements could make under the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990. This law gave the FDA the authority to approve disease-prevention claims for food, including supplements (for example, “adequate calcium throughout life may reduce the risk of osteoporosis”)—but Dr. Kessler said the FDA would not approve any of the proposed claims for supplements. He stood before Congress that same year and compared the supplement industry to “snake oil salesmen.”
Ironically, Dr. Kessler’s aggressive campaign against supplements led to a grassroots movement in favor of supplements culminating in the landmark Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA). Industry observers note that Dr. Kessler was “so infuriated by the enactment of DSHEA that he ordered the FDA not to enforce the new law.” Former FDA officials subsequently admitted that the goal of this policy of non-enforcement was to allow the worst aspects of the supplement industry to run wild in hope that the law would be repealed. Thankfully, his plan failed, but this episode demonstrates the extreme measures Dr. Kessler was willing to pursue to undermine supplement access.
Dr. Kessler also serves as board chair for the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s (CSPI) Board of Directors. It is a fitting post for Dr. Kessler, as CSPI shares his negative views on dietary supplements. In particular, CSPI worked to eliminate legal structure/function claims for dietary supplements. (A structure/function claim describes the role of a nutrient on the structure or function of the body, such as “calcium builds strong bones,” or “antioxidants maintain cell integrity.”)
There is also speculation that Dr. Kessler is being considered for a more prominent role in government, such as heading up the Health and Human Services Department.
Dr. Kessler’s appointment to the COVID-19 task force is therefore particularly concerning. We are already dealing with federal agencies trying to gag doctors to prevent them from disseminating basic information about the benefits of supplements for COVID-19—supplements that were part of President Trump’s own treatment regimen. There is clear evidence to suggest many natural medicines to help prevent and treat COVID.
Another potential red flag for those with natural health concerns are those with ties to the drug industry. Dr. Kessler recently joined the Board of Directors of Ellodi Pharmaceuticals. Rick Bright, formerly of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and another pick for the COVID-19 task force, has ping-ponged several times between government work and private industry, having held positions at Novavax and Altea Therapeutics. This is one of many examples of the revolving door that helps keep our crony medical system going and drug industry interests front and center.
We need people who will recognize and harness the power of natural medicines to fight COVID, not a proven supplement foe who will continue—and worse, potentially expand—this censorship campaign that is costing American lives.
Action Alert! Write to Joe Biden’s transition team and tell them we need proponents of natural medicine in the COVID-19 task force, not demonstrated crusaders against scientifically-proven treatments. Please send your message immediately. By sending this message, you will also be supporting our petition to ungag doctors so that they can share with patients the benefits of supplements and natural treatments for COVID.