Can We Trust the FDA?

When Ron Woodroof, a Texan electrician and rodeo enthusiast was diagnosed with AIDS in 1986, he refused to wait for treatments to be developed and approved by the US Food & Drug Administration. (FDA). In fact, he proved the course of drugs being given in trials to HIV patients, AZT, was causing more harm than good. He took charge of his medical care and researched alternative drugs—and found them—readily available in other countries but not approved by the FDA. His story is told in the 2013 movie The Dallas Buyers Club. Given a medical prognosis of 30 days, he lived another 6 years, treating himself and buying and reselling drugs he brought in from other countries.

In Princeton, NJ, an outbreak of the potentially fatal meningitis B disease has afflicted 8 students since March.  The Ivy League university is importing Bexsero; a vaccine licensed only in Europe and Australia,  and it plans to inoculate its 8,000 students and professors.  The meningitis shot currently given to college-bound students doesn’t protect against this strain.

Watching the Dallas Buyers Club and reading about Princeton, I felt my confidence in the FDA diminishing. Charged with protecting what we eat and drink and the drugs we take, I wondered what has been compromised for cost effectiveness in both production and distribution. I’ve trusted the FDA when I shop for food and when I’ve been prescribed drugs.  Can I still?

I also considered the pioneers who have advocated for the legalization of marijuana for medical use and thought about alternative medicines often deemed less effective than traditional routes. My son Jacob and his family swear by NAET, Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques. It cured my daughter in-law’s gluten allergy and alleviated kids’ Hand Foot & Mouth symptoms. (One of the treatments called for a series of what my grandson called “silly baths” – tub baths infused with ointments and powders.) They see a NAET practitioner for colds and coughs, rashes and aches.

As health care options continue to be debated, perhaps it’s also time to consider alternatives: vaccines and drugs that are working in other countries, non-Western practices and cures. Let’s educate consumers about what’s available, so they, like Ron Woodroof, can take control of their own health and its care.

Have you tried any alternative medicines? What works for you?

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About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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21 Responses to Can We Trust the FDA?

  1. I’ve used homeopathic remedies for years. They’re inexpensive and they work. I think the reason why things take so long to be approved is because of the US pharmaceutical companies who don’t want less expensive competition. It’s a national disgrace that people should have to seek treatment abroad. With proper warnings on the packets most things approved in Western Europe should pose no problem – the EU regulations are just as tough as the US ones.

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  2. Thanks for sharing this. I can’t wait to see the movie. The cost to get drugs to the market in the US is too high. It is political and financial and it takes too long.

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  3. When I was younger I would get horrible cramps and nausea. Doctors wanted me to go on the pill to fix it. I did some research and found that First Nations women would use Yellow Dock Root and Black Cohosh. The Doctor said that was just silly there was nothing (no hormones) in those products that would balance my hormones. I went ahead and tried it anyway, and it worked, almost immediately. I’m no doctor, I have no idea how or why it worked. I only wished I had tried it years earlier!

    The Pharmaceutical business is a big one. Months ago I saw an expose documentary that detailed how Canada Health went about approving drugs for use and was astonished to learn that even if a drug showed a miniscule benefit over placebos and came with a number of risks, it would be approved. Even more shocking is how many of these drugs are addictive or need to be used for the rest of your life! They also showed how they did trials with people in poverty stricken countries, mostly with the poorest of people in India, many of whom died while doctors were paid handsome fees.

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    • cyclingrandma says:

      Yes big and powerful and scary. I tried HRT for hot flashes and it was useless. There are plenty of alternatives. Thanks for sharing, Diana.

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  4. nathan says:

    We were strongly impacted by the documentary, forks over knives, http://www.forksoverknives.com. , which confirms the direction you’re going in this post!

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    • Nathan, I’m not sure even plants are totally safe– after all- they’re grown in the ground which is laden with all the chemical waste from industries.

      On Sun, Nov 24, 2013 at 7:40 PM, cyclingrandma

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      • Nathan says:

        That’s true. If you don’t eat organic plants then it’s no better than eating meat. An organic-whole food vegan diet is the idea. We try hard to only eat organic food for this reason. Pesticides and genetic modification all produce nutritionally deficient plants.

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      • You should talk to Grandpa about his opinion of GMO, etc. As a farmer, he has thoughts you might be surprised to hear.

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  5. a says:

    Hear, Hear!

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  6. The question I have about buying drugs from Canada is what kind of safety tests do they offer us?

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  7. hugmamma says:

    Massage therapy and chiropractic care, the latter as needed. I’ll be returning to a regime of regular massages as they helped keep everything fluid.

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  8. Andrea Kelly says:

    I think modern medicine definitely has a time and a place – break your arm, or need surgery, and you’re always glad those guys are around!!

    However, I’ve been going to a naturopath (and have been doing NAET, actually!) since I was about 7 or 8, and she has helped me through everything over the past 10 years, from cold and flu type things, to allergies – you name it. Any time I’ve gotten really sick, to the point of potentially needing more attention (pneumonia and the like), she’s always directed me straight to an MD, but in my experience they rarely do much more than give you an IV and send you home with some pain medication, and I’ve never actually felt better from it.

    Also, I suppose I should add that I started going to alternative practitioners at such a young age because my mom became extremely ill and her doctor was stumped as to what was going on with her. Being more open-minded than most MD’s he actually suggested she seek alternative treatments, which we ultimately credit with saving her life today. So I guess you could say I’m a tried and true believer 😉

    But I would say that the right practitioner makes ALL of the difference in the world – and for many people it’s taking a step outside of their comfort zone, so it’s really important to pick someone you’re comfortable with.

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  9. ShimonZ says:

    There are many alternative medicines that can help in a real way. But of course, the best thing is to live a healthy life, and try to avoid the pitfalls. The best thing is when we don’t have any reason to see a doctor.

    Like

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