By Saul Kent, President of the Life Extension Foundation
The FDA's illegal actions on the day of the raid started a pattern of repeated violations of our first amendment (free speech) rights. One of the FDA's most outrageous acts was their seizure of 5,000 copies of our newsletter Life Extension Report, which were in sealed envelopes ready to be mailed to our members. Since each of these 5,000 copies was identical, the FDA's purpose in seizing them was to prevent our members from receiving their newsletters.
Interestingly, the 5,000 issues seized featured a report on the scientific research we were funding, which had nothing to do with promoting "unapproved" products.
Several years later we discovered that FDA agent Katz had called the producer of a South Florida radio show that Bill Faloon had appeared on in an attempt to persuade the producer to ban Bill from future shows. This blatant attempt to interfere with our first amendment rights backfired when the producer testified in court (at one of our hearings) about the FDA's attempt to "intimidate" him.
Consequences Of The FDA Raid
The immediate consequences of the FDA raid were daunting. The first problem we had was that most of our product inventory had been seized by the FDA. Next was the fact that they had taken many of the documents we needed to do business and most of our literature. Then there were the traumatic effects on our employees, who were afraid to come to work, suffered from nightmares, and found it difficult to concentrate.
The next wave of problems involved the vendors we were using to supply the products and services we needed to stay in business. Suddenly, nobody wanted to give us credit, and some companies didn't want to do business with us at all. Having to pay for everything up front was especially difficult because of the losses we had incurred. It didn't help that we were now targets for the media as well.
Finally, there was the reaction of our members. Many of them supported us in our time of need; but others began to look for other sources for their life extension products. They figured that any company raided by the government wouldn't be in business much longer.
Every attorney we consulted said we could expect 5-to-20 years in prison and that our only hope of getting reasonable prison time was to "plead guilty".
Everyone we consulted, including attorneys who were FDA "experts", told us we had to submit to the FDA's authority to have any chance of surviving. They told us we had to stop promoting "unapproved" therapies to extend the human lifespan immediately!
We ignored all this advice and instead decided to wage all-out war against the FDA. We did this knowing that we would not only risk our livelihood, but our personal freedom as well.
This was a war that even our most avid supporters thought we could never win.
We were told again and again that the FDA had the unlimited resources of the federal government at its disposal, and that an organization with fewer than 5,000 members had no chance of winning an all-out war with them.
Entering The Political Arena
We knew our position was scientifically correct, and that the public would support us if we could expose the truth about FDA corruption and incompetence. But this was 1987, when the FDA still had the public's confidence and most people still "trusted" the government.
Nonetheless, we began an aggressive political campaign to attack the FDA's credibility. We began to work with health freedom advocates such as Clinton Ray Miller, who's been fighting for alternative medical causes for decades, as well as other freedom fighters around the country.
Establishing A Political Branch
Our next move was to establish the Political Coordinator's Office and hire a full-time advocate to lobby against the FDA.
Our first political victory was in 1991 when we helped defeat a bill that would have expanded the FDA's enforcement powers to the point of possibly destroying the supplement industry. Most people have short memories, or don't realize that we were responsible for initiating the public uprising against the FDA that began in 1991.
Our current Political Coordinator is John Hammell. John's in-your-face style of political battling has made The Foundation the nation's foremost advocate for healthcare freedom. While most groups focus on a single area, The Foundation fights for the rights of all Americans to have access to therapies of their choice.
The Foundation has been spending its political capital on a wide variety of causes. We've fought for citizens who want free access to dietary supplements, unapproved therapies from offshore countries, more rapid approval of drugs and devices, and the development of revolutionary anti-aging therapies.