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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine October 2003
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Jerry Falwell Attacks Life Extension Foundation

Taking on the Challenge

Since 1984, The Life Extension Foundation has battled against the high cost of prescription drugs. We long ago predicted that a health care cost crisis would erupt if Congress failed to rein in the artificially inflated prices that Americans pay for their medications.

To expose the incestuous relationship that exists between the FDA and the pharmaceutical giants, we made hundreds of appearances on TV and radio shows, mailed out millions of pieces of mail, ran full-page newspaper ads, and set up anti-FDA websites (www.stopfda.org). We did this for the purpose of encouraging consumers to act against the blatant corruption that is bankrupting the nation’s health care system.

As a result of our relentless attacks against high-cost prescription drugs, The Life Extension Foundation has become the target of a vicious propaganda campaign. Profit margins on prescription drugs have become so gargantuan that pharmaceutical companies will do almost anything to prevent foreign competition from developing.

Large drug companies intensely lobby Congress to pass laws that give them extended exclusivity; file lawsuits to delay generic competition; petition the FDA to stop the importation of lower-cost medications; and go as far as to pay off generic companies not to compete. By inducing a well-known member of the clergy (Reverend Jerry Falwell) to make blatantly false statements about medicines sold in other countries, the drug cartel may have sunk to its lowest level yet. Consumers are paying for these morally bankrupt schemes every time they buy an over-priced prescription drug.

Excerpt from CBS News' 60 Minutes Interview With The FDA
CBS News: As I understand it, your jurisdiction really stops when the drug leaves the manufacturer, does it not?

FDA: States have the authority to regulate wholesalers,
and they are involved in the direct oversight and
licensing of various steps in this distribution chain.

CBS News: Which you are not.

FDA: Which we are not.

CBS News: And there are no federal requirements that drug wholesalers keep a full accounting of the distribution chain and no requirement that drugmakers notify anyone-and we mean anyone-if they find their drugs are being counterfeited.

FDA: Manufacturers are not required to tell us when there is a problem.

CBS News: Is a manufacturer legally required to tell a
drugstore?

FDA: A manufacturer is not required to tell a drugstore.

CBS News: Is he required to tell a patient?

FDA: No.

CBS News: So, in fact, there's not a requirement for a company that discovers its drugs are being counterfeited to notify anyone?

FDA: That's correct.


Compare the FDA's position on proven counterfeit drugs sold in the United States to the charade of concern the FDA expresses about the possibility of counterfeit drugs being imported from other countries.

The bill that would give Americans access to lower-cost medications from other countries contains strict regulatory provisions that would probably make imported drugs safer than those made in the United States.

Life Extension Will Not Capitulate

Several of our Directors thought it might be best to ignore Jerry Falwell’s baseless attacks because of concerns that any rebuttal might offend some Life Extension members. I argued that to ignore these obvious lies would be an effrontery to all of those who support free choice as it relates to where Americans may purchase their medications.

If Life Extension has proven anything over our 23-year history, it is that we don’t back down on irrefutable scientific, rational, or moral issues. We hear every day from our members about the outlandish prices they are paying for drugs that are much less expensive in other countries. Some of our less fortunate members cannot afford all the drugs their doctors prescribe. Life Extension is not going to backpedal from its multi-decade campaign to legalize the importation of lower-cost medications, despite Jerry Falwell’s unfounded vilification.

The drug cartel has spent millions of dollars on pubic relations to distort the facts so that Congress would be dissuaded from passing the Pharmaceutical Market Access Act of 2003. One objective of this smear campaign has been to disparage members of Congress who support this legislation. Life Extension anticipates increased attacks as these public relations agencies seek to create the false impression that anyone who favors legalized prescription drug importation is involved in all kinds of unsavory activities.

Discrediting the Good Work of Others

Jerry Falwell’s groundless attacks against the right of Americans to access lower-cost medications offends the integrity of the many honest clergymen seeking to make a positive difference in their communities. Falwell’s shabby attempt to bring up totally unrelated issues (such as abortion) as reasons not to pass this drug importation bill adversely affects the credibility of those who make legitimate arguments to justify their positions.

The Reverend Falwell has inappropriately ventured into a political/scientific arena that has nothing do to with the benevolent purposes of his various organizations. This improper and deliberate abuse weakens the compassionate pillars on which his organizations were founded.

Let Your Voice Be Heard

Drug company lobbyists are inundating the Senate to prevent the prescription drug importation bill from becoming law. Consumer groups are intimidated by the FDA’s baseless assertions that imported drugs are somehow dangerous. The FDA has preyed on fear and uncertainty for decades, while American consumers are extorted into paying the highest prices in the world for their prescription drugs.

This is not just an issue for individuals to be concerned with. There are dire predictions of severe economic upheavals in the United States if a solution is not found for the high cost of prescription drugs. Some of the largest corporations in America cannot afford to fund health insurance benefits for current and retired employees. Health insurance companies are going bankrupt because of astronomical drug prices. Medicare itself is predicted to become insolvent in the not-too-distant future.

The United States has been economically deteriorating as prescription drug prices skyrocket. In order to counter the influence peddling of the pharmaceutical behemoths, American consumers must become politically active. Consumers vastly outnumber drug industry lobbyists. Regrettably, ignorance and apathy have silenced many Americans and enabled drug money to create laws that favor outlandish pharmaceutical company profits at the expense of the consumer.

I encourage every patriotic American to enlighten their two Senators about the need to support the Pharmaceutical Market Access Act of 2003.

If this bill is passed into law, it will liberate the American consumer from being an economic serf to the pharmaceutical cartel. The next page provides a form letter that can be mailed or faxed to your two Senators.

For longer life,
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William Faloon.

Write your Senators

Even Those With Insurance
Are Paying More

The high cost of prescription drugs used to be a problem only for people without health insurance. Those fortunate enough to have health insurance could obtain their drugs for a co-pay that ranged from $3 to $10 per prescription.

As Life Extension predicted several years ago, insurance companies can no longer afford to subsidize inflated drug prices. Co-pays are now as high as $40. For senior citizens taking five different drugs, that equates to $200 a month. In addition, they are paying much higher health insurance premiums.

Low-income people often have to make a choice between paying for their medicines or their food. The media are frequently reporting heart-wrenching stories of elderly people skipping doses of their medications in an effort to stretch out their supply, even when their health insurance partially covers the cost.


References

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2. Koide SS Mifepristone. Auxiliary therapeu tic use in cancer and related disorders. J Reprod Med, 1998 Jul;43(7):551-560.

3. Mattson MP, et al. Activation of NF- kappaB protects hippocampal neurons against oxidative stress-induced apoptosis: evidence for induction of manganese super oxide dismutase and suppression of perox ynitrite production and protein tyrosine nitration. J Neurosci Res, 1997 Sep;49(6):681-697.

4. McCullers DL, et al. Adrenocorticosteroid receptor blockade and excitotoxic challenge regulate adrenocorticosteroid receptor mRNA levels in hippocampus. J Neurosci Res, 2001 May;64(3):277-283.

5. McCullers DL, et al. Mifepristone protects CA1 hippocampal neurons following trau matic brain injury in rat. Neuroscience, 2002 Jan; 109:2:219-230.

6. Pedersen WA, et al. Corticotropin-releasing hormone protects neurons against insults relevant to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. Neurobiol Dis. 2001 Jun;8(3):492- 503.

7. Willerson James T, et al. Stem cells improve heart function of seriously ill heart failure patients. Cir J Am Heart Assoc. 2003 Apr;22

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