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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine October 2003
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Jerry Falwell Attacks Life Extension Foundation

The Reverend Falwell then attacks Alcor, which he again confuses with LEF:

“That is only the beginning, however. LEF also conducts bizarre cryogenics experiments. They are reported to have the body of baseball slugger Ted Williams frozen for eventual reanimation. The president of the organization, Saul Kent, likewise froze his mother’s severed head, prompting a three-year investigation into the possibility that she was euthanized.”

Saul Kent is not the President of Alcor. The Life Extension Foundation did not freeze Ted Williams’ body. Saul Kent also did not kill his mother. None of this, of course, has anything to do with the artificially inflated prices Americans pay for their drugs. Nor does it have any relationship to the fact that identical drugs can be purchased for far less money from other countries. But again, facts and relevance mean nothing to Falwell, who argues that Americans should not be allowed to purchase lower-cost medications from Canada, Europe, and other countries, even though they have regulatory standards comparable to those of the United States.

Stem Cells Save Boy's Life
FDA Warns Doctors: "Do Not Do It Again"

In February 2003, a 16-year-old boy underwent a stem cell transplant to help him regain lost heart tissue after he was shot in the heart by a nail gun and subsequently suffered a massive heart attack. A group of progressive doctors used an experimental procedure to harvest stem cells from the boy's own blood and then later infused them into the damaged portion of his heart via a catheter. The results were the boy regained enough heart function to play basketball and pretty much live a near-normal life for a teenager.

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Before the stem cell transplant, a cardiac MRI test found that basically the entire front wall of his heart was dead. The boy's ejection fraction (a test that measures how efficiently the heart pumps blood) was down to 20%. After the stem cell transplant, the ejection fraction went up to 40% (50% or greater is normal for a boy this age).

For this stem cell procedure, the boy was initially given a drug that helps stimulate the production of stem cells in his own blood. The cells were then harvested and concentrated from the boy's blood, and the solution was infused directly into the artery that feeds the damaged heart wall. The aim of this stem cell transplant is to stimulate blood vessel and heart muscle growth in areas of the heart without sufficient blood supply.

Stem cells are so-called master cells that can develop into various tissues in the body, and the idea of using them to repair damaged hearts is a hot area of medical research. People who survive a heart attack are often left with damaged cardiac muscle, which reduces the heart's pumping capacity and can result in progressive heart failure (congestive heart disease).

In response to the media attention about this successful stem cell transplant in this 16-year-old boy, the FDA immediately halted these doctors from administering stem cells to any other patients. The FDA stated that there was inadequate evidence that the treatment is safe and effective. The FDA asserted its regulatory authority over stem cell transplants because the cells are manipulated outside the patient's body and are being injected into a different organ (the heart) from which they were drawn (the blood).

On April 22, 2003, however, the American Heart Association published an article7 indicating that injecting a person's own stem cells directly into heart muscle appears safe and useful in treating end-stage heart failure. The American Heart Association issued this report based on positive findings from a human study indicating that stem cell transplants into the heart have a major clinical impact.

Heart failure is the inability of damaged heart muscle to pump enough blood to serve the body's needs. About 550,000 new cases of heart failure are diagnosed each year in the United States, according to the American Heart Association. The disease caused about 51,500 deaths in the year 2000.

The FDA and Jerry Falwell want to deny dying Americans access to this stem cell therapy. Reverend Falwell is using the stem cell and abortion issues in a deceptive manner to keep Americans from having access to lower-cost prescription drugs from other countries.

Falwell’s final mudslinging against LEF is as follows:

“And they traffic in untold numbers of questionable ‘life-extending’ medications that are the subject of numerous federal investigations — raising a significant question about their motivations for advocating drug importation.”

The drug bill that Falwell is attacking would legalize the importation of FDA-approved prescription drugs only, not “questionable life extension medications,” as Falwell erroneously asserts.

Falwell’s statement that we are “the subject of numerous federal investigations” was news to us. That was until an FDA inspector showed up at our door eight days after Falwell’s editorial was published. The FDA inspector commenced an intensive five-day dissection of our operations. As you will read in an article by Saul Kent that appears later in this issue, we believe the drug industry may be behind the FDA’s sudden interest in Life Extension. Our attorneys have filed a Freedom of Information Act request to determine if a drug lobbyist urged the FDA to initiate this inspection. The drug cartel views The Life Extension Foundation as a threat to their profits. Drug companies routinely hire lobbyists to persuade the FDA to go after those who are a challenge to their multi-billion dollar annual earnings.

Long-time members know that Life Extension fought an 11-year battle with the FDA, which we won in 1996. Life Extension is currently supporting numerous First Amendment actions against the FDA that seek to force the agency to recognize health claims such as “omega-3 fatty acids may reducethe risk of coronary artery disease.”

Who Is Behind These Attacks?

Life Extension members may wonder how Jerry Falwell could have written such an erroneous editorial and why The Washington Times would publish it. We think the answer lies in the massive lobbying campaign the pharmaceutical industry launched to stop the Pharmaceutical Market Access Act of 2003 from passing Congress.

According to Public Citizen’s Congress Watch (a non-profit group founded by Ralph Nader), the drug industry hired 675 lobbyists from 138 firms last year. Since 1997, the drug industry has spent a whopping $650 million lobbying Congress, which includes hiring academics and funding non-profit organizations that support their causes. According to the June 23, 2003 Wall Street Journal, one of the drug industry’s biggest issues is barring imports of lower-cost medications from other countries.

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An example of drug company influence can be seen in the lobbying efforts of a religious group (other than Falwell’s) that is attacking members of Congress who support the drug importation bill. This coalition represents some 43,000 churches and has distributed letters urging lawmakers to oppose the Pharmaceutical Market Access Act of 2003. It turns out the letters, written on this religious coalition’s letterhead, were drafted by an attorney representing the drug industry.

The Washington Post (not The Washington Times) has been investigating drug company influence using non-profit organizations to front for their cause. Documents provided to The Post reveal the key role that drug lobbyists played in sending letters out to the constituents of members of Congress who support this bill. Representative Dan Burton and several other conservatives are blaming the drug companies for the dirty mail campaign to discredit the bill. The Washington Post quoted Representative Burton as follows:

“I do not understand . . . how a religious organization can be manipulated by the pharmaceutical industry to do this sort of thing. They are supposed to be moral people. And yet I am confident, in fact I am dead sure, that the Traditional Values Coalition did not have the money to mail this kind of trash out to congressional districts all across the country.”

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Why Drug Companies Want to Discredit Life Extension

Life Extension’s drug price comparison charts have been enlarged and presented before Congress as evidence that Americans are overpaying for medications they need to stay alive. Since drug companies cannot argue against the irrefutable fact that identical drugs cost more in the United States than in other countries, they have made a concerted effort to paint the bearer of this information (The Life Extension Foundation) in a negative light.

As you will read later in this issue, the good news is that despite this intensive drug company lobbying campaign, the Pharmaceutical Market Access Act of 2003 passed in the House of Representatives. It now has to be voted on in the Senate. If the bill becomes law, the savings to Americans will be so substantial that today’s health care cost crisis will be substantially mitigated.

The Life Extension Foundation is the only organization that has investigated, calculated, and published exactly what the active ingredients in prescription drugs actually cost (see chart on next page). This information reveals that if Americans could freely import their medications from other countries, the cost of some $300 prescription drugs could drop to under $10.

UPDATED DRUG PRICE COMPARISON CHART

What drugs cost in Europe compared to the United States. Prices vary depending on the European country. Some of these drugs now have generic equivalents in the United States. These U.S. generics are still much more expensive than their European counterparts.

DRUG
QUANTITY
POTENCY
U.S. PRICE
EUROPE'S
PRICE
Premarin
28
0.6 mg
$28.32
$4.38
Synthroid
50
100 mcg
$23.32
$3.14
Coumadin
25
5 mg
$42.62
$4.71
Prozac
14 20 mg $56.62 $14.80
Prilosec
20 20 mg $86.32 $10.24
Norvasc 30 5 mg $37.60 $19.88
Claritin 20 10 mg $63.88 $6.10
Augmentin 12 500 mg $52.62 $9.89
Zocor 28 20 mg $118.68 $48.36
Paxil 28 30 mg $83.36 $48.36
Zestril 60 5 mg $65.68 $9.73
Prempro 28 0.6 mg $32.52 $10.97
Glucophage 50 850 mg $74.32 $4.40
Cipro 20 500 mg $114.84 $21.00
Zoloft 100 50 mg $237.84 $69.92
Pravachol 28 10 mg $85.62 $27.00

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