Sunday, December 13, 2009

FDA vs. Washington Homeopathy and the Flu

Ever hear of homeopathy? Some regard it as quack medicine. But it's just another flavor of America's health obsession, in this case, promoting the use of certain trace substances to help the body boost its own immune systems. The aim: to stay healthy and avoid the use, when possible, of traditional chemical or pharmaceutical remedies. It's basically health nut stuff. I don't have a problem with it. Some doctors do. Others figure, at best it works, at worst it cures people via the placebo effect.

The Washington Homeopathic Products (WHP), actually located in Berkeley Springs WV, where Mrs. Wonker and I have a second home, is respected worldwide as a purveyor of high quality homeopathic remedies. It's a mom and pop operation that's grown nicely in size over the years, adding needed employment in a largely rural area that has few other industries. In an era during which the very idea of US exports has become an oxymoron, WHP recently opened a new factory to help handle increased international business. Its efforts were officially recognized by West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin:

Washington Homeopathic Products was recognized for exporting products to Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Nigeria, Portugal, Thailand, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Chile, Croatia, Grenada, Latvia, Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia, Bangladesh and Morocco.

WHP also won an SBA award:

The U.S. Small Business Administration recently chose his [Joe Lillard's] company, Washington Homeopathic Products, as West Virginia’s Small Business of 2009.

In addition:

Last month [April 2009], the U.S. Small Business Administration also named Lillard its West Virginia Small Business Person of the Year for 2009.

(Info from company's website, excerpted from the Morgan Messenger.)

What the SBA giveth, however, the Federal bureaucracy taketh away. Such obvious success for a profitable operation that sells substances not rigorously regulated by the FDA*, raises flags in a Socialist administration. And so it has come to pass that the current FDA has been harassing WHP to the point of conducting unannounced raids on its rural factory, frightening and terrifying its workers. Apparently, among other things, the FDA is worked up about the company's advertising of its products' benefits.

Not surprisingly, the Washington Post, with little understanding of homeopathy, sneeringly endorsed the FDA's recent persecution of WHP. Reporter Sandra Boodman, no authority on the subject, complains there's no "scientific evidence" that homeopathic remedies work. Er, same goes for "global warming," Sandy, which the Post still endorses.

Now for a brief, relevant detour: Due to this administration's paranoia over how to administer the current H1N1 flu vaccine, there remains a shortage of doses well into the current flu season. How'd the shortage happen? The New York Times dissembles, putting out a puff piece glossing over the administration's complicity in the shortage and implying it was a problem within the companies producing the vaccine. In a linked story online, they more explicitly blame the drug companies:
Sanofi [one of the companies], however, ran into some delays putting the vaccine into vials and syringes.
A half-truth. The NYT craftily omits why the drug companies ran into these "difficulties." It was the fault of this administration's socialist nannies. Leave it to the reviled El Rushbo to set things straight, citing an article in the NYPost:

There's a great story in the New York Post today about this bill from Robert Goldberg.  He's vice president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest.  "The shortage of swine-flu vaccine results not from drug-company greed --" wow, I thought everything was the result of big corporate greed.  No, "The shortage of swine-flu vaccine results not from drug-company greed or outsize demand but almost entirely from the government's decision to pander to unfounded and unscientific fear.  As The Wall Street Journal reported last week, the US government set out to have the H1N1 vaccine produced largely in single-dose syringes -- a demand that has set back production considerably, because multidose vials are far easier to make."

So once again -- your instincts are right, Bill [a caller who complained about this] -- once again we see what happens when government makes business decisions and then they blame the manufacturer for not having high enough yields of the vaccine.  They no doubt changed demands after the manufacturer said they could do what they wanted and so forth.  "The only reason to seek single-dose production was to please people needlessly worried about the preservative thimerosal, which is used to provide multiple doses of the vaccine. The fear -- utterly groundless and repeatedly debunked -- is that thimerosal can cause autism and other neurological disorders in infants and other young children.  If not for that decision, we'd have more than enough vaccine. Instead, because the government yielded to pressure from antivaccine fringe groups, we're behind the curve on protecting millions of children from swine flu." 

While Rome burns, however, there have been other potential remedies available. Or were. WHP has annually produced a product called "Influenzium," which contains small killed amounts of the current season's flu virus in oral doses.

Last year, when I couldn't get a flu shot (unavailable for an entirely different reason), I picked up some of last year's version of Influenzium when I was out in Berkeley Springs, and used it in lieu of the vaccine I couldn't get. I never got the flu. Was it because I used this product? Frankly, I'm a skeptic about many things, so I don't know. What I do know is that I at least got a small amount of killed virus into my system due to this product whereas the normal channels proved unable to provide me with the official FDA-approved vaccine. Logic told me that getting some kind of treatment was better than nothing.

Now it's 2009. The press and the administration have been screaming for nearly a year that we're all going to die if we don't get the H1N1 flu shot. Once again, no flu vaccine. Or if it does become available, people in my age group--aging Boomers--are turned away. This is age discrimination, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control bureaucrats. They're covering for the administration's blundering by saying Boomers probably don't need the vaccine. There's been little hard scientific evidence to back this up. Yet we're now learning that older Americans have apparently been dying in greater numbers than other groups from H1N1 and complications.

No matter. I can go to WHP and do what I did last year, right? BZZZZZT!!!! Wrong answer. The FDA has so harassed WHP that A. They're out of last year's Influenzium and can't make more now according to a person I talked to in WHP's downtown shop/museum last week; and B. Since the FDA hasn't yet authorized release to WHP of sufficient quantities of the H1N1 virus to process into this year's product, I can't get this year's version either. Let's go over this again, PowerPoint style:
  • I'm too old to qualify for a current flu shot (age discrimination and healthcare rationing)
  • I can't get last year's homeopathic product as a substitute (FDA hates WHP)
  • I can't get this year's homeopathic product as a substitute since a vindictive FDA is obviously going to delay its production until it's too late to help (bureaucratic harassment, aka running out the clock)
If this is how Obamacare is going to work, why the hell would we want this? My options for this flu season have effectively been eliminated and we don't even HAVE Obamacare yet. What's the sense in giving these dopes even more power and tax dollars? As for WHP? God help them now that this administration's FDA has got them squarely in their sights.

* The FDA does have some statutory authority here, but not to the level that the agency does over, say, Merck or Pfizer.


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New York liposuctions said...

I trust more a homeopathy remedy than a vaccine. I often use homeopathy for treating normal flu, and is working great and very fast.