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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine July 2005
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What Do “Regulated” Supplements Cost?

by William Faloon

Some curious events are occurring in Washington, DC. Despite record-breaking numbers of adverse reactions to prescription drugs, the federal government is calling for tougher regulation of dietary supplements.1,2

As was the case when the FDA pretended that imported prescription drugs are “dangerous,” the government is issuing deceptive reports questioning the safety and reliability of supplements.3 No new findings of health problems are cited; instead, the government has compiled data collected over several decades. Based on isolated events such as the problem with contaminated tryptophan in 1989, some in the federal government now proclaim that dietary supplements should be regulated in a manner similar to prescription drugs.

As Life Extension members are well aware, the FDA has egregiously failed to protect Americans from lethal prescription drugs. Yet that simple fact does not deter bureaucrats from attributing imaginary risks to supplements, thereby creating a fictitious basis for enacting new regulations.

As I pointed out four months ago in an article titled “Death by Regulation” (Life Extension, March 2005), the FDA’s umbrella of consumer protection is a charade.4 The fact is that more than 100,000 Americans die each year by taking prescription drugs that the FDA has declared “safe.”5-7 In most years, no deaths or even serious injuries are reported because of someone taking a dietary supplement.8 Yet some politicians and bureaucrats are determined to make dietary supplements conform to the same standards as prescription drugs.

More regulations mean higher supplement costs, less innovation, and certainly no more consumer protection, since there is no safety problem to begin with.

Cost of Supplements in Europe

Rather than speculate on what would happen if new laws were enacted in the United States, one has only to look at what supplements cost in Europe to understand the risks posed by regulations.

Many of the supplements that Americans freely access here are banned outright in Europe. Potencies of European supplements are often very low. What stands out most, however, are the high costs that Europeans pay for their regulated supplements.

Earlier this year, Life Extension asked its European correspondent to conduct a meticulous review of dietary supplement prices in Europe, based on national pharmaceutical databases. It turns out that while supplement prices differ greatly between different European countries, our correspondent felt that German prices represent somewhat of a European average. On the following page is a table showing German and Swiss supplement prices that illustrates how much more Europeans pay for their “regulated” supplements than Americans do in our deregulated marketplace. It is important to note that most of the supplements listed on this table are considered pharmaceuticals in Europe.

PRICES IN SWITZERLAND COMPARED TO THE UNITED STATES

PRODUCT / STRENGTH

COUNT

SWISS/GERMAN
EQUIVALENT PRICE

US PRICE*

% SAVED
BY AMERICANS

Swiss Price: Acetyl-L-Carnitine, 1000 mg

30

$175

 

76%

US Price*: Acetyl-L-Carnitine, 500 mg

100

 

$42

 

Swiss Price: Boswella, 400 mg

100

$45.75

 

38%

US Price*: Boswella, 300 mg

100

 

$28.50

 

Swiss Price: CLA, 750 mg

120

$39.33

 

60%

US Price*: CLA, 500 mg

120

 

$15.75

 

Swiss Price: Creatine Powder

500 grams

$37.50

 

42%

US Price*: Creatine Powder

500 grams

 

$21.75

 

Swiss Price: Ginkgo, 120 mg

50

$104

 

79%

US Price*: Ginkgo, 120 mg

100

 

$21.75

 

Swiss Price: Methylcobalamin, 1 mg

100

$23.40

 

68%

US Price*: Methylcobalamin, 1 mg

60

 

$7.46

 

Swiss Price: Methylcobalamin, 5 mg

60

$66.30

 

64%

US Price*: Methylcobalamin, 5 mg

60

 

$24

 

Swiss Price: Saw Palmetto, 160 mg

60

$65

 

68%

US Price*: Saw Palmetto, 160 mg

60

 

$21

 

Swiss Price: Vinpocetine, 30 mg

20

$22.50

 

40%

US Price*: Vinpocetine, 5 mg

100

 

$13.50

 

PRICES IN GERMANY COMPARED TO THE UNITED STATES

German Price: Acetyl-L-Carnitine, 500 mg

100

$78

 

46%

US Price*: Acetyl-L-Carnitine, 500 mg

100

 

$42

 

German Price: Lipoic Acid, 200 mg

100

$37.50

 

26%

US Price*: Lipoic Acid, 250 mg

60

 

$27.75

 

German Price: Boswella, 400 mg

100

$58.50

 

51%

US Price*: Boswella, 300 mg

100

 

$28.50

 

German Price: CLA, 1000 mg

90

$19.00

 

17%

US Price*: CLA, 500 mg

120

 

$15.75

 

German Price: Creatine Powder

500 grams

$26.50

 

18%

US Price*: Creatine Powder

500 grams

 

$21.75

 

German Price: Ginkgo, 120 mg

120

$90.83

 

76%

US Price*: Ginkgo, 120 mg

100

 

$21.75

 

German Price: Methylcobalamin, 1 mg

100

$23.40

 

68%

US Price*: Methylcobalamin, 1 mg

60

 

$7.46

 

German Price: Methylcobalamin, 5 mg

60

$66.30

 

64%

US Price*: Methylcobalamin, 5 mg

60

 

$24

 

German Price: PectaSol® (Citrus Pectin Powder)

500 grams

$146.19

 

49%

US Price*: PectaSol® (Citrus Pectin Powder)

454 grams

 

$74.25

 

German Price: NADH, 5 mg

30

$30

 

10%

US Price*: NADH, 5 mg

30

 

$26.96

 

German Price: SAMe, 200 mg

30

$118.33

 

71%

US Price*: SAMe, 200 mg

50

 

$33.75

 

German Price: Tocotrienols, 50 mg

60

$58.50

 

30%

US Price*: Tocotrienols, 50 mg

90

 

$37.43

 

Example of calculations:

Acetyl-L-Carnitine

 

 

POTENCY

COUNT

PRICE

 

1000 mg

30

$105 European retail price

 

500 mg

100

$42 equivalent US price

 

500 mg

30

$52.50 corrected European price

 

500 mg

100

$175 corrected European price

 

500 mg

100

$42 LE price

 

 

 

$42/$175.00 = 76% savings.

 

* Life Extension member price.

 

 

 

 

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