Life Extension Magazine July 2005
As We See It
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.