Tuesday, September 14, 2010

FDA moves to protect pharmaceutical profits

Over the past several decades, a long list of anti-smoker laws has been enacted to curtail smoking. Draconian smoking bans and punitive levels of tobacco taxation have been implemented, with but one objective: to force smokers to quit their “vile, self-destructive” habit.

In North America, Public health groups (tax exempt, anti-smoker lobby groups) in the US, including Tobacco Free Kids, Action on Smoking and Health, the American Cancer Society, etc., and their Canadian counter-parts, have pursued that objective with a single-minded fanaticism. The public is subjected to a constant barrage of anti-smoker propaganda claiming that each new anti-smoker initiative will result in thousands, or tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of lives saved.

In Canada, banning smoking in public places, we were told, would save lives; graphic warnings on cigarette packs would save lives; punitive levels of government approved extortion (jokingly called taxation) would save lives. And, more recently, smoking bans outdoors, in parks and on beaches and golf courses, we're told, will save lives.

Yet, despite all these life-saving, anti-smoker initiatives, the number of smoking related deaths inexplicably continues to grow.

Recently, the CMA (Canadian Medical Association) recommended that provincial governments fund nicotine replacement therapy to encourage more Canadians to quit smoking and presumably, save lives.

But, if nicotine replacement therapies offered by the pharmaceutical industry will save lives, won't similar products available from alternative sources do the same thing? And, if a product was introduced to the marketplace, with the potential to greatly reduce tobacco consumption; one which was much more acceptable to smokers as a nicotine delivery system, then why would anti-smoker zealots seek to curtail its use? Is that not counter-productive?

The electronic cigarettes or e-cig has become popular among smokers wanting to reduce consumption of traditional tobacco cigarettes, with many users claiming the device has helped them to quit smoking entirely.

Yet, the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recently sent warning letters to some companies selling electronic cigarettes, and a manufacturer of the liquid nicotine used in the devices, claiming they made unproven health claims and threatening to shut them down if they didn't stop claiming that the e-cig was effective at reducing consumption or in some cases quitting outright.

But, why should it matter?

In a letter to the Electronic Cigarette Association, the FDA said the actions against the companies were not meant to be seen as a larger effort to ban the electronic devices. However, FDA actions to date belie the truth of that claim. The FDA has intercepted shipments of the device at customs and released a highly biased and dishonest study claiming the devices contain dangerous carcinogens.

FDA compliance lawyer Michael Levy noted there are several FDA-approved smoking cessation aids available on the market and the agency is working with several manufacturers for approval as a drug-delivery device. Said Levy, "We are interested in finding out whether e-cigarettes can be proven safe and effective."

The “approved” smoking cessation aids to which Levy refers are those offered by the pharmaceutical industry; the patch, nicotine gum and lozenges and the nicotine inhaler. And, of course, the controversial Chantix. And, proving that the electronic cigarette is safe and effective to the satisfaction of the FDA and the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC), with their strong ties to the pharmaceutical industry, may take a very long time.

And, while clinical trials take place, drug companies will maintain their monopoly on alternate nicotine delivery systems. Anti-smoker zealots can, and will, continue their efforts to demonize electronic cigarettes with the same propaganda methods used to demonize smokers. Some states in the US have already included the e-cig in their anti-smoker legislation, banning use of the device anywhere smoking is prohibited.

Health Canada has already taken similar action and banned the e-cig.

The zealots are dependent on massive amounts of funding from the pharmaceutical industry to sustain their war on smokers. Perhaps that's why they seem determined to suppress any challenge to the monopoly enjoyed by the drug companies in providing alternate nicotine delivery systems. Any threat to drug company profits also threatens funding to the anti-smoker crowd.

Clearly, the anti-smoker fanatics are promoting the interests of the pharmaceutical industry to the detriment of the smokers they claim to be helping. And, in the process, they're showing once again, that, as often as not, it's not about public health; it's about the money.

Yeah. I know what you're thinking. So what else is new?


michael said...

I'm a big fan of e-cigarettes because of the way it change my smoking habit. I'm a chain smoker but using it I was able to reduce my addiction.
e-cigarette reviews

dancilhoney said...

Good article. So I suggest use e-cigarette which is a great alternative because it allows smokers to have the experience of smoking a cigarette, but with less nicotine, no tar, and none of the smell butts left over. e-cigarette reviews

Anonymous said...

Just as George Carlin stated,"it isn't the drug you use, but WHOSE drug!"

It is ALWAYS about PROFIT not SAFETY! I'm TOBACCO FREE after 25 years of smoking with the help of an electronic cigarette! NONE of the other methods were effective for me.

Isn't the goal to STOP smoking??? I didn't reach that goal with pharmaceuticals! :)

Ashley Williams said...

Yes!! you are so true that our government is just trying to save us from the hazards of smoking a but not successful in many cases !! we may be surprised that why they are not banning such a harmful products from the market!!