The “NBJ Summit 2013” has just come to a close. This conference is supposed to present the latest trends in the industry of dietary supplements, functional foods and medical foods. The event itself was hosted at a beautiful hotel in California, and offered seasoned keynote speakers, and plenty of opportunity for networking over cocktails and dinners hosted by generous sponsors. As the last panel of speakers was taking the stage, I was struck by the difference in the tone and vision offered by them compared to the numerous integrative medical conventions that I have attended: integrative doctors tend to favour natural ingredients over synthetic ones, and have kind of disbelief in “Big Pharma”.
But here, on the stage of NBJ Summit, were the representative of Pfizer and Proctor and Gamble, quietly explaining their plan for the future for the industry: They would lobby the FDA to apply pharmaceutical standards of quality control to dietary supplements. Small companies would be forced out of business, or would have to sell their market share to them.
I looked around me: there did not seem to be any representative of small family owned companies in the room. I assumed that they had already been wiped out from the audience. The rationale behind this planned corporate genocide: small companies do not generate valuable research! I felt completely isolated. With my father’s 133 peer reviewed papers, plus all the recent American publications that stem from our collaboration with Columbia University, CTCA and Kansas University Medical Center, I felt I did not belong.
A beautifully done video for the Vitamin Angels came up on the screen. An artful display of clever emotionally charged corporate message. To put it in a nutshell, the video was saying that donating vitamins should be given support, because they were saving lives. I paused. Vitamins saving lives? Probably true, but according to the FTC, supplements are not supposed to treat, prevent or diagnose any disease, and no health claims can be made. And there is Vitamin Angels, a huge company, quietly defining its mission as saving lives by dispensing vitamins! What happened here? Have some companies in the health field become “Too Big to Fail”, like on Wall Street?