..."As far as public health is concerned the
available evidence is abundantly clear. Since less than 1% of dietary
supplements have been found to constitute any significant health
hazard there is absolutely no justification for additional safety
based regulatory controls of 99% of available dietary supplements.
Pharmaceutical drugs on the other hand continue to cause a huge
number of adverse reactions and fatalities. According to abundant
scientific evidence therefore, urgent reforms are needed to improve
the safety of pharmaceutical drugs and prevent adverse reactions.
To this end there should be mandatory reporting of drug reactions
in death certificates and specific inclusion in official statistics.
There should also be severe penalties for doctors who fail to report
significant adverse reactions. Given unbiased consideration of the
evidence, no other conclusion is possible."...
Extracted from: The
Safety of Dietary Supplements and Pharmaceuticals
These extracts make the most obvious observation which most
regulatory health bodies continue to blatantly ignore/overlook:
Namely, their mandate to protect the public through the basic health
improvement measures (record keeping and post injury investigations).
Such behavior is inexcusable in any other industry. Imagine an aeroplane
crash, or telephone, electricity service interruptions without investigation
and copious and through incidence record keeping with solid future
preventative measures. These basics are the corner stones of any
other industry. So why not in health care? The answer - remain unaccountable
Their agenda is clear, if one does not gather the basic data
then one can put a spin on any discussion (with all the phoney experts)
and say that their is no evidence of harm - leaving the door wide
open to say and/or do what ever they please to maximize profits.
With no data, it also becomes easier to attack other safer modalities
that compete for their business with disease.
All the money (mainly our from our own taxes) required to set
up the basic health improvement measures has and is literally being
spent on protecting and creating the pharma medical Mafia monopolies
through the making of useless regulations and then twisting them
to suit the needs of the vested interests...
This is only possible as the regulatory bodies exploit the trust
of the public. Only widespread recognition of these abuses will
change the situation. Unfortunately, it may have to get much worse
before real action to force a change may be possible...
The Pan Pharmaceuticals fiasco, according to the TGA, is the result
of a shameful abandonment of quality control and the falsification
of data. This is absolutely inexcusable. Pharmaceutical companies
should conform to the highest quality standards and the highest
ethical standards and any breaches of these standards must be severely
penalised. Having said this however, safety standards and quality
control standards, as distinct from efficacy standards, must be
consistent and apply to all companies and all products. There should
be no bias or preferential treatment. As many experts have stated,
the same safety standards should be applied to both alternative
medicines as well as drugs. If it is acceptable for drugs to cause
thousands of fatal reactions every year, then according to this
standard, with which of course I vehemently disagree, it should
be acceptable for alternative medicines also.
Contrary to the impression created by the media hype, the Pan
crisis confirms again the safety of dietary supplements and alternative
medicines as compared to drugs. While alternative medicines
were withdrawn because of fears some products may not have been
true to label, Travacalm drugs on the other hand were withdrawn
because there was a fear of severe or fatal reactions. Even though
Pan Pharmaceuticals were producing tablets that contained up to
7 times the normal level of active ingredients, the only products
to cause ill effects were drugs. In spite of the huge number
of alternative medicines which were withdrawn, the only products
which required a Class 1 health warning were also drugs. These facts
clearly illustrate the safety of alternative medicines compared
We should not be distracted from the real issue by those who wish
to avoid responsibility and turn the Travacalm tragedy into an alternative
medicine witch hunt. The real issue is the fact that people have
been poisoned by drugs due to the manufacturing processes (and ethical
conduct) which have been utilised in a pharmaceutical company which
produced over the counter drugs as well as prescription medicines
and alternative products. It is the manufacturing procedures, quality
control and ethical behaviour of those in the pharmaceutical industry
which is in question. In spite of these facts, the health authorities
and the media have largely succeeded in creating the false perception
that responsibility for the current crisis falls squarely on the
shoulders of the alternative medicine industry. It is up to the
industry to correct this misperception and publicise the enviable
safety record of alternative medicines.
According to abundant evidence there are gross deficiencies in
the pharmaceutical industry, especially in regard to ethics and
quality control. There is also overwhelming evidence that prescription
drugs and pharmaceuticals generally, cause far too many adverse
reactions and even fatalities. Reporting systems for adverse drug
reactions should be strengthened and reporting of adverse drug reactions
in death certificates should be mandatory. Current proposals to
encourage reporting of adverse reactions to alternative medicines
should be extended to include all drugs until the drug industry
has achieved a level of safety similar to that which has already
been achieved by the alternative medicine industry.
The same rules of evidence should of course be applied in both
instances. Any symptom, even if only vaguely related to a prescription
drug, should be immediately reported and recorded by doctors and
alternative practitioners. We must all strive to reduce the unnecessary
suffering caused by prescription drugs. We should also strive to
produce a genuine form of
integrated medicine where the independence of alternative medicine
is preserved, and its strengths maintained. We should never accept
the use of scare tactics to justify a takeover of the alternative
I look forward to the time when our health care professionals no
longer feel the need to indulge in insults and name calling and
they begin to work together to eliminate deficiencies in our health
care system for the betterment of human health.
In keeping with the oft stated desire of authorities to establish
a connection between the safety of over the counter drugs and the
use of alternative medicines as a result of the Pan crisis, scientists
now want consumers to be more wary about alternative medicines (but
not over the counter drugs such as Travacalm) (68).
According to Pengelley (68):
"When the dust settles from the Pan Pharmaceuticals recall,
scientists want users to be more discerning about natural medicines."
Pengelley cites Geraldine Moses from the Pharmaceutical Society
of Australia (68):
"We have to educate people to be a bit nitpicky and stop
just acting on blind faith because it's on the label. There are
a lot of things that are only there for historical reasons. They've
kind of been grandfathered on to the shelves. It's really true there
are lots of things that get marketed but don't work."
Predictably, as a result of the Travacalm DRUG scare, government
authorities have now promised to clamp down on complementary medicines.
According to O'Malley (66):
"A panel of experts will be given the job of scrutinising
the complementary medicines industry after the Pan Pharmaceuticals
recall. Parliamentary health secretary Trish Worth said the panel
would also focus on the maintenance of a responsible and viable
complementary medicines industry.' The Pan Pharmaceuticals recall
has highlighted the importance of preventing or deterring deliberate
or reckless breaches of standards and conditions,' she said.".................."Australian
Medical Association president Kerryn Phelps has welcomed the committee
and urged it to focus on restoring consumer faith in evidence-based
complementary medicines. 'Complementary medicines and therapies
that have been shown to work should not be dragged down by the Pan
scandal,' Dr Phelps said."
According to Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Trish Worth (78),
"the Pan Pharmaceuticals recall has highlighted the importance
of preventing or deterring deliberate or reckless breaches of standards
and conditions applicable to the manufacture of medicines in order
to protect the health and safety of the Australian public."
As a result of these concerns about the Pan recall, Trish Worth
announced the formation of a committee to conduct an inquiry into
"complementary medicines" (78).
Trish Worth continues (78):
"the establishment of this committee and amendments to the
Therapeutic Goods Act go a long way towards giving the public and
all health care practitioners confidence that the Government has
taken the necessary steps to examine the role of complementary medicines
in the health care system."
It seems that since we have now proven that a certain pharmaceutical
drug was toxic we must take urgent action to ensure the safety of
vitamins and dietary supplements and we must "examine the
role of complementary medicines in the health care system."
Furthermore, as has been correctly pointed out by Phelps, the reputation
of vitamins and supplements should not be "dragged down"
simply because of the "Pan scandal". The Pan scandal,
as I have indicated above, provided further evidence of the safety
of alternative medicines as compared to drugs. Did I miss something?
Are we having an inquiry into drugs or vitamins?
Interestingly, Professor MacLennan, who reportedly regards alternative
medicines as "snake oil"(69),
has been appointed to the Committee to assist in determining the
role of complementary medicines in the health care system. Professor
MacLennan was described by Paul Heinrichs (69)
as " someone with a long-standing interest in querying the
worth of alternative medicine."
But the Pan crisis is also being used to justify the control of
dietary supplements in New Zealand by the Australian government
According to Middleton (71):
"Up to ninety (90) percent of all traditional Chinese Herbal
Medicine and as much as forty (40) percent of New Zealand, Canadian
and the U.S.A made Dietary supplements will be banned from New Zealand
if the New Zealand LABOUR party's proposed Trans Tasman Agency to
Regulate Dietary Supplements( Chinese Herbal Medicine) is passed
into law early 2003"......"The proposed Authority will
be based in Canberra, set up under Australian Law, and staffed primarily
by Australians . Every single herb or vitamin that is sold in New
Zealand will have to be registered and licensed with this new Authority
run by the Australian Therapeutic Goods administration( TGA) which
is recognised internationally and by the American Nutritional Foods
Association as having the most draconian regulatory regime for dietary
supplements in the world , being highly restrictive, bureaucratic,
cumbersome and costly."
As I have indicated above, the desire of the medical establishment
to control dietary supplements has accelerated the need for increased
publicity aimed at causing fear and anxiety regarding the safety
of all alternative medicines (74,75,76,77).
There will be an increasing number of poorly conducted and biased
studies (see Dietary
Supplements) which will seek to draw attention to any alleged
dangers, real or imaginary, of alternative medicines. Such studies
are made more urgent as scientists and doctors advise the public
that anyone who does not take nutritional supplements is risking
serious diseases such as heart disease and cancer (see Nutrition
and Megavitamins 2, Nutrition
is for the Birds,
vitamins). As more and more doctors are themselves taking vitamins
there is an increasing need to convince the public of the safety
of prescription drugs and the dangers of vitamins.
Not surprisingly, as a result of the Pan crisis the Australian
government is now seeking to begin a process of dramatic regulatory
reform of the alternative medicine industry to enable it to take
full control of the industry with greatly enhanced power to cancel
licences of manufacturers of alternative products.
the Australian Government Inquiry into Complementary and
Alternative Medicine for
more details of recent developments.
Read full article (one of the best) : Pan
Pharmaceuticals Recall of Australian Drugs, Dietary Supplements
and Alternative Medicines