LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - FDA can't guarantee drugs are safe

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Don Casebolt does not want you to take supplements and rely instead on the FDA for "safe and effective" drugs.

Let's take a look at how the FDA and Big Pharma operate. In order to submit a drug for approval, a company must conduct research that includes animal tests, human volunteers and what they call double blind studies.

This takes 8-12 years and costs approximately $70 million. As of 1995, 55 percent of that cost was borne by the taxpayer. Once approved, does this mean a drug is absolutely safe? No, it simply means the FDA has determined the benefits outweigh the risks.

After approval, the drug companies begin their marketing. In addition to advertising, they hire pharmaceutical reps to convince doctors and hospitals to prescribe the new drug. This includes gifts, food and sometimes vacations. Millions more are spent. This makes new drugs very expensive, at least for Americans. They are much cheaper in other countries.

As for being safe, according to an article in the Journal of American Medicine Association, more than 100,000 deaths per year are attributed to properly prescribed drugs. Another 7,000 occur due to errors.

As a matter of fact, according to the same article, medical treatment is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. There have been numerous drugs pulled off the market because of dangerous side effects that were not originally reported. In addition, the Office of Inspector General conducted an investigation in 2007 in which they found the FDA had approved some new drugs without complete information.

This was as a result of members of the review board having a financial investment in the drug company. The American Association of Poison Control Centers has reported not one death has ever been caused by supplements, herbs or vitamins.

Casebolt mentioned that his grandmother and two of her sisters lived to a ripe old age and he can safely say it was without the benefit of supplements. I can safely say they also accomplished this without the benefit of all the drugs that are available today. The best way to ensure longevity is to pick your parents carefully.

Mary Kay Pinnick

Walla Walla

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