The FDA approves expensive new drugs, heedless of the side effects (some of which are extremely dire), while restricting consumer access to supplements and natural products. And it’s all to enrich Big Pharma.
New drugs for chronic conditions
Drug companies make an astronomical amount of money by developing expensive drugs that are supposed to treat chronic conditions. The FDA has approved many such drugs while working to restrict consumer access to natural substances—which are usually more effective, undeniably safer, and always less expensive.
For example, heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the US, killing about 610,000 people each year. Big Pharma—in the belief (now mostly debunked) that cholesterol is the primary factor in heart disease—developed statin drugs that would lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. The drugs, which have been accompanied by massive marketing campaigns, are huge moneymakers for the drug industry, to the tune of about $29 billion worth of sales in 2013. That’s the kind of outrageous money you make when you convince one in four Americans over the age of 45 to take statins.
These drugs are commonplace despite a laundry list of negative side effects, including a weakened immune system, increases in insulin resistance diabetes risk, a higher incidence of nerve degeneration and pain, memory loss, confusion, and depression. Statins have even been linked to aggressive and violent behavior in women. Despite the frightening list of side effects, these FDA-approved drugs are the weapon of choice for most conventional doctors to treat high blood pressure.
A similar story could be told when it comes to many other drugs the FDA approved to treat chronic “lifestyle” diseases—or at least their symptoms:
- Acid blockers. Among the most popular acid blockers are proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). They’ve been associated with a number of undesirable side effects, including reduced calcium absorption, associated with an increased risk of bone fractures in women; an increased risk of vomiting and diarrhea; an increased risk of pneumonia (because an acid-free stomach lets pathogens into our body), and an increased risk of dementia in elderly African Americans and probably in others. To add insult to injury, acid blockers may be making stomach problems for many Americans even worse: in many cases, the root cause of these problems is actually too little stomach acid. But acknowledging this fact would cut into the $20 billion antacids bring in each year for Big Pharma.
- Diabetes medications. In 2015 the FDA posted a warning that three drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes may lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a condition that can lead to diabetic coma and even death. The signs and symptoms of DKA include difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, confusion, and unusual fatigue or sleepiness. Normally, those with type 1 diabetes are at risk for DKA, whereas it is a rare condition for those with type 2 diabetes. Until now, apparently.
- Sleeping pills. One of the world’s most popular sleeping pills is also, at 40 million prescriptions per year, one of the most-prescribed medications, period. Ambien—also sold under the brand names Intermezzo, Stilnox, Stilnoct, Sublinox, Hypnogen, Zonadin, Sanval, Zolsana, and Zolfresh—is becoming better known for its disturbing side effects rather than as a treatment for insomnia. Now, incidents of “sleep driving,” “sleep eating,” or “sleep shopping” have become associated with Ambien blackouts—even when the medication is not mixed with alcohol. Ambien users sued manufacturer Sanofi because people were eating things like buttered cigarettes and eggs, complete with the shells, while under the influence of the drug. An attorney called such people “Ambien zombies.”
These popular drugs are used by millions of Americans—yet they all can have devastating side effects, and their effectiveness is frankly questionable.
Blockbuster diet drugs take priority
The patents on Big Pharma’s biggest money-making drugs are expiring, which will cause drug prices (and profits) to plummet when generic versions become available. So the pharmaceutical industry is desperate for new blockbuster drugs—and FDA is beholden to the pharmaceutical industry. The drug industry, having been exposed for over-hyping the “cholesterol problem” for the sake of its own profit, now sees the obesity epidemic as the next opportunity for exploitation.
So the FDA approved Qnexa, a diet pill that has documented risks of causing birth defects and heart problems—the first new prescription weight-loss medication since 1999. There is only one other diet prescription medication currently on the market: Orlistat (marketed under the trade name Xenical), which tends to cause loose, oily stools, along with a host of other possible side effects, some of which may be serious.
Qnexa was rejected twice, once in October 2010 over heart risk concerns, and again in January 2011 because one of its ingredients can cause cleft lips in the children of women who take it. Qnexa is a combination of two existing drugs, the appetite suppressant phentermine and the anti-seizure medication topiramate. Both have serious risks, including cardiovascular adverse effects, vomiting, diarrhea, hallucinations, kidney stones, osteoporosis, and suicidal thoughts
Put the two together and you have a real winner of a diet drug! What’s more, diet drugs often exert their weight loss effects only while the drug is being taken. This promotes “yo-yo dieting,” which leads to more weight gain and is more likely to increase the risk of heart attack, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and other serious health problems.
There are natural ways to deal with weight loss, but of course the FDA does not want you to know about them.