US to Outlaw Vitamins

Lyle Burkhead (
Thu, 31 Oct 1996 23:14:59 -0500 (EST)

In reply to James Daugherty's post,

> The pharmaceutical Corporations, were unable to control Congress
> which recently responded to public pressure and allowed freedom in
> food supplements. However, they are not so easily defeated
> in their quest to reap cartel style profits based on "reguations".
> So, they are going to the World Government institutions to
> circumvent our rights...

I wrote:

:: This seems unlikely to me. Pharmaceutical companies can sell
:: vitamins at a profit like any other product.

to which James responds:

> They get higher profits for a longer period when their products
> fall under regulations.

They might get higher profits per unit, but the volume of sales
would be much less. What if a product (such as anabolic steroids)
is taken off the market altogether? Would you say this is a plot by the
pharmaceutical companies to increase their profits?

It's not even clear that the profit per unit would be higher if vitamins
were prescription drugs. Nobody has a patent on vitamins. Most
doctors would prescribe the cheapest generic vitamins they could find.
This is exactly the kind of situation pharmaceutical companies want to
avoid. They can make a lot more money selling vitamins over the
counter than they would make selling them by prescription.

> According to economics, in the absence of government enforced
> cartel regulations, profits tend to approach zero over time due to
> competition.

This only applies to completely fungible products, and it assumes that
there is no natural barrier to entry in the industry.

> Clearly, all producers, unless morally restrained, look for a
> pretext under which to have the govt cartelize their industry, limiting
> competition, and thereby prolonging profits.

All producers? I don't think so. Some companies make a profit by
differentiating their product from others, and creating a perception of

> What is so incredible about compromising high level pubpols
> and finpols with child sex, drugs, etc?

This in itself is not incredible. I don't doubt that such things happen.
However, I think you overstate your case, and hurt your credibility by
doing so. I also think you try to explain too much with one principle
(conspiracy), instead of considering other explanations.

> Are you familiar at all with the results of the
> 70's Congressional probes into the CIA? MKULTRA?

No. And I think this is leading us pretty far afield.

I think we should be looking in another direction for an explanation.
I think it is a matter of belief systems, not profits. There are still
quite a few doctors who *believe* (to use Rich's favorite word) that
it is superstitious, immoral, WRONG to take vitamins. I want to know
where that belief comes from, and what if anything we can do about it.

I wrote
:: We are trying to find a causal explanation of the fact that certain
:: products are restricted and others are sold on the open market. I think
:: the UN, Nafta, and GATT are irrelevant to this particular point.

to which James replied
> Now this is really total ignorance. The whole purpose of the
> World Trade Organization is to make product regulations uniform
> worldwide.

Excuse me, but this is a non sequitur. The WTO could just as well
make a uniform world-wide rule that vitamins shall be sold over the
counter. The fact that they are trying to make uniform rules is irrelevant
to the question of why they come down on that side of the issue --
and also irrelevant to the question of why vitamins are an issue at all.

Why do some people take it upon themselves to restrict our access to
vitamins and other health-promoting substances? It seems absurd, but
there must be a cause.

Maybe that's a sacred cow -- I always assume that there is a cause
for whatever happens. More precisely, I assume that the best way
to proceed in most situations is to look for causes. This is something
that I don't think I would be willing to question.