Those familiar with the 23-year history of the Life Extension Foundation know we do not shy away from difficult situations. Our scientific objective is to defeat aging and death. The pioneering research we fund attests to our commitment to finding solutions for what most people believe are impossible-to-solve problems.
For 11 years, the FDA tried to shut down the Life Extension Foundation. Some of the police-state tactics used by the FDA included seizing our products and newsletters at gunpoint, threatening scientists with imprisonment for accepting our research grants, committing perjury before a Federal Court, and squandering enormous taxpayer dollars trying to incarcerate us.
At one point, the FDA said they would not bring criminal charges against us if we would close The Foundation. We did not submit to this extortion threat. The FDA then indicted us on multiple criminal counts that could have resulted in $7 million in fines and 84-year prison sentences. After three years of fierce pre-trial motions, however, the FDA offered to reduce the felony charges to misdemeanors involving no prison time IF we would plead guilty to only one count. We refused to plead guilty to something that was not a crime. After showing the U.S. Attorney’s Office that the FDA had little chance of convincing a jury that we did anything wrong, the prosecutor filed a motion to dismiss our criminal indictment…something that is almost never done in Federal Court!
Another “Impossible” Battle
We are now facing another “impossible” battle with very high stakes. The Life Extension Foundation is battling the drug cartel and the FDA in a campaign to convince the U.S. Senate to pass a bill that would give Americans the right to purchase lower-cost prescription drugs from other countries. The problem is that both the FDA and the drug cartel are lobbying hard to defeat this bill, and 53 Senators have already gone on record as saying they will not support it.
In addition to having to convince the Senate to vote this legislation in, we have to contend with a new FDA investigation that may have been initiated by the drug cartel in order to neutralize our ability to generate public support for this bill.
Few organizations would risk everything they have to support a bill that does not directly affect them. After all, LEF does not sell prescription drugs. So why are we risking our personal freedom to support this bill? Our reasons are quite fundamental:
- It is wrong for the FDA to dictate where U.S. citizens may purchase their prescription drugs.
- It is wrong to grant an illegal monopoly to a cartel so that Americans can be extorted into paying the highest prices in the world for their medicines.
- It is wrong to allow the United States to fall into an economic state of chaos as individuals, insurance companies, businesses and even the Federal government are increasingly unable to afford the rapidly escalating costs of health insurance and health care.
- It is wrong for the FDA to pretend to be a consumer protection agency when their actions clearly show they function to protect the economic interests of the drug industry, not the consumer.
- It is wrong for lower- and middle-income American citizens to be deprived of life-saving medications when affordable drugs are freely available in other countries.
We realize that if these wrongs are not corrected, the future of the United States is in jeopardy. Our mission, therefore, is to right these wrongs. When it comes to the inflated prices of prescription drugs, our solution is to allow competition to reduce costs.
Standing in our way is the behemoth drug cartel and its pawn, the FDA. The drug industry bestows more money on politicians than any other industry. It can afford to hire public relations agencies to fabricate “facts” any way it chooses. The FDA can spend limitless taxpayer dollars harassing us.
Life Extension has a weapon called the truth. The truth is that Americans are paying artificially inflated prices for their prescription drugs. A growing number of Americans are seeing through this charade. If the truth can get out to enough people, Americans will refuse to pay the highest prices in the world for their health care.
Our mission to convince the U.S. Senate to pass the drug importation bill may seem “impossible,” but that is what EVERYONE told us two days before the U.S. House of Representatives voted on the Pharmaceutical Market Access Act of 2003. On July 25, 2003, the House passed this bill. Here is a brief history of this victory against overwhelming odds.
In 1984, The Life Extension Foundation made an important discovery. A member in Europe told us that the price he was paying for his prescription drugs was lower than what Americans were paying in the U.S. Upon further investigation, Life Extension confirmed that identical medications, often made by the same company, cost far less in Europe (and other areas of the world) than in the United States.
This discovery resulted in Life Extension advocating that Americans should have the right to buy their prescription drugs from other countries, rather than having to pay artificially high prices in the U.S. Back in 1984, prescription drugs were not nearly as expensive as they are today and most people were covered by affordable health insurance that paid for prescription drugs. Our suggestions that the American drug market be opened to free market competition fell on deaf ears, except for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The FDA made it clear that Americans could only buy their drugs in the United States and that those who challenged this edict would be jailed. On Nov. 7, 1991, Bill Faloon and I were indicted and the FDA tried to convince the Judge that we were such dangers to the community that we should be denied bail.
In reality, we were a significant danger to the profits of the pharmaceutical industry. We mailed out millions of pieces of mail advocating that American citizens be allowed to purchase lower-cost medications in other countries, we appeared on hundreds of radio and TV programs exposing the incestuous relationship between drug companies and the FDA, and we ran full-page newspaper ads showing how much more Americans were paying for drugs compared to Europeans. As far as the FDA was concerned, their greatest worry was that we challenged their authority.
The FDA had built up a trackrecord of retaliating against anyone they regulated that dared to challenge their authority. We fell under the FDA’s regulatory umbrella, and sure enough, they did retaliate big time. (Refer to the July 1996 issue of Life Extension magazine for complete details.)
How The FDA Helped Life Extension
Because of the FDA’s brutal attacks against us, the media began paying attention to what we were saying. When the FDA launched their first raid against us in 1987, we had only 4,400 members, with little prospects for growth. By the time the U.S. Attorney’s Office forced the FDA to drop charges against us, we had grown to over 25,000 members. We went from sending out less than 5,000 copies of an 8-page newsletter in 1987 to mailing over 300,000 copies of this month’s 112-page magazine today.
We typically devote a portion of each magazine to exposing FDA malfeasance and this continues to attract a growing number of Americans who want to change today’s inefficient and bureaucratic system of drug regulation.
In order to educate the public about what’s wrong with the FDA, we set up a website called www.stopfda.org that features many of our archived articles on FDA incompetence and corruption. Members of Congress have used information on this website to draft legislation to limit the FDA’s powers. Now that the multi-billion dollar profits of the pharmaceutical industry are threatened because of information we have published, the drug lobby has launched a vicious campaign to discredit us.