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Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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Give Me A Magic Pill?

There is an ad that runs sometimes between the games on my iPhone. It is a magic pill to reduce fat. Presented on Shark Tank, it raises so much excitement! Promises no side effects and will drop as much as 30 pounds in just a couple of weeks. No side effects. (Yes, I’m repeating myself.) And no diet or exercise needed. This is pure magic and the kind all of us who have struggled with our weight dream about.

The magic pill? - RISE Macclesfield

And I am sorry, but I don’t believe it. I certainly do NOT believe the “no side effects”.

Why? Because I was intrigued by an FDA-approved drug that offered to help me lose weight. I needed to eat a nonfat diet and this medicine would get rid of all the fat in my body. No one in the doctors office and nowhere on the literature (yes, I read the small print stuff on medication I am going to put into my body-don’t you?) indicated that there would be THESE side effects.

I took those pills for 2 weeks and it took my body 6 months to stop….leaking. I was better prepared than a man would be to capture the oil essence leaving my nether regions, thank goodness for panty liners.

So, now that you have been possibly grossed out, let me inform you that the FDA did remove approval for that medication. But the product presented at Shark Tank does not fall under ANY scrutiny. There is no protocol in place to review supplements for content (yup-you may not be getting what is on the label) or safety.

I’m not advocating for FDA control of supplements, although there is an effort going on to put that in place. What I am trying to say is that while the FDA has a required regimen for approval, they do sometimes go too quickly to approve something that people want. Recently, the approval for a medication for Alzheimer’s is raising concerns by the medical and scientific community. This needs to be watched carefully.

FDA Logo Policy | FDA

I had exposure to the FDA system to approve medications early in my life. My father worked for ER Squibb & Sons all his working life. After his service in World War II (Pacific and European theaters) he attended City College in New York. It was free in those days, and the GI Bill helped with books and other expenses. He started working for Squibb at their original Brooklyn plant and then moved to New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1948.

The plant made a lot of medicine, and we knew whenever they were preparing penicillin. (My husband Graham talks about the aroma of a regional bread bakery in Dallas, Texas. No question, a more enjoyable smell.) Dad worked on a number of projects but I best remember when he worked on flavorings for children’s medicines. He’d bring stuff home to taste (spit it out, don’t swallow it) but it never was chocolate. I tried to persuade him and it wasn’t until I was a parent, that I appreciated that kids were not tempted to overdose on any med just because it was a favorite flavor.

My father spoke with the highest respect for the FDA’s process. And, trusting his experience and judgement, I held that view until the time of the magic weight loss medicine. At the same time, I was working for a respected ophthalmologist in Nashville and he was asked to be on the FDA panel to review all eye medications and surgical procedures being introduced. He never shared details but it was clear to me that there was a lot of arm wrestling between the medical and the pharmaceutical people on the committee sometimes.

So, yes, it became apparent to me that there was some agenda going on. No idea specifically what, but we know that governmental decisions sometimes deal with patronage and not as much with facts.

As the vaccine was being developed to address the COVID-19 infection, it was fascinating to hear how work had started on methods to address the specialized coronavirus formation. As SARS and other coronavirus infections started spreading early in the first decade of this century, work started. This article presents why and how the research started over 10 years ago. Still, even with this head start, it has been amazing to see how so many organizations, research facilities, and pharmaceuticals worked together to try to solve this problem. We had a global threat and competition was set aside for cooperation.

There have been so many technological advances that have happened during my life and my high school science helps me understand just some. With a willingness to read hard words and use other sources to explain things I don’t know, I can get a glimmer of comprehension. I am so appreciative for the people who have additional 8 to 12 years of specialized education and then decades of research and applied science to help determine things beyond my understanding and capability.

Which path to decision making do you take?

To assume I can make my own decision regarding how the virus or the vaccine will affect me, I have to be willing to trust sources I have read. When I read published studies that comply with the scientific process that has worked safely for us for decades, I look to see that the studies are independent. In other words, if the same researcher’s names show up on all my research, I have not researched correctly. I am skeptical enough that one or two or even the same ten people are not enough if they all are saying the same thing. In order to make an informed decision as a lay person without this specialized training, reading must include all viewpoints.

This scientific process may be flawed in part, but without it, studies are merely stories. Anyone presenting advice based only on 10 or 100 patients in a few medical practices is not providing information that is well tested and reasonable for a life-affecting decision.

I understand that there may be other treatments for any number of illnesses that may not be approved by the FDA that are effective. I enjoy the benefits of some unregulated supplements. But you can be very sure that if someone says something is good and the science behind it indicates it is a kind of bleach, I need to know a lot more before I jump into that line. And if the doctors suggesting this concoction was not done in a study by researchers because he is only a clinician, people should really slow down in jumping on this. Everyone really should read what he said after he said the thing they enjoy hearing.

And, final word here: if you eat junk food or if you buy prepared foods at the supermarket without reading the labels, you are showing you are someone’s puppet spouting you don’t know what is in the vaccine so you will not take it. If you truly are concerned about keeping your body healthy, there is a lot of behavior that needs to be considered. Like quitting smoking.