Re: Supplements

Lee Crocker (
Tue, 13 Jan 1998 15:05:23 -0800

>> Most things in nature that work typically aren't promoted by the
>> medical establishment because they can't patent them, and therefore
>> make multi-millions off of them.

> True, although you shouldn't make too much of this. Volz article
> (below) says that hypericum extracts are among the most widely
> prescribed antidepressants in Germany, and the Nordenfors article was
> published in the journal of the swedish medical association. It seems
> to me that this is more of an american problem than an international
> problem.

It's not true, and it's a dangerous meme that should set off propaganda
alarms whenever you hear it. European patent law is /stronger/ than
US law, so if this "problem" of effective but non-patentable drugs
really existed, it would exist more there than here. The fact that it
is in fact less shows how that assertion fails.

Drug companies willingly spend millions of dollars investigating any
natural substance that might have any remotely possible effect, and
even if the effect occurs in the natural substance without refinement,
they can still make the money back by selling refined versions that
act faster or taste better or are more controllable. If a well-known
substance is not being sold and touted by drug companies, it's not
because they can't patent it--it's because they've tested it and it
doesn't work (or doesn't work as well as something else they make).
Anyone who claims otherwise is just a charlatan trying to sell you
snake oil.

That said, there /is/ a problem in the US with drug companies not
being able to rely upon perfectly valid studies not done by FDA rules
(most of which have nothing at all to do with scientific validity).
But even in that case, if a natural substance was better at something
than the current drug of choice, drug companies would be falling all
over themselves to test it and sell an extract. The patent issue is
nothing but a red herring.

Lee Daniel Crocker <>