Guest Blog by Peter Leighton
In my career I have straddled the fence between biotech/pharma and nutraceutical, working in senior management in both sectors.
The question about an FDA approved prescription fish oil hits me like the fence as my feet slip mid-straddle.
Natrual Bioactive Compounds
For years we have known about natural bioactive compounds that can be as effective as pharmaceutical drugs for various ailments, usually without the devastating side effects.
We have yearned to be able to state the facts, demonstrated in clinical research, about these natural compounds. But the vested interests of the FDA and huge pharmaceutical companies have relegated nutraceuticals to a third class status, considered only “dietary supplements”. Required to carry the moniker “These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and this product is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any disease” like a scarlet letter, dietary supplements relied upon word-of-mouth to gain a following.
In my article on preventative healthcare, I delve into the issues surrounding the marginalization of nutraceuticals, stating:
“In a true democracy, when the light of truth illuminates the injustices of the many, the chemistry of change begins. For too long Americans have been numbed into acquiescence by our affluence and dumbed into indifference by our legislative complexity”.
Pharma – more profitable than oil companies
While pharmaceutical manufacturers rank among the nation’s most profitable industries (profit as a percentage of revenue), with profits of 15.8% compared to 5.7% for all Fortune 500 firms, including the oil companies, there is another side that must be recognized.
Treating, not preventing disease
One of the big criticisms placed on Big Pharma is that most of their products treat disease but don’t prevent disease. Yet GlaxoSmithKline’s Lovaza is a shining example of a drug that not only treats triglycerides, but prevents CVD.
I feel compelled to give GSK a big “Atta Boy” pat on the back for marketing a product that we can all be proud of; a drug with no significant side effects and exceptional safety. How can I pile on GSK when this is a model that all pharmaceutical companies should be following?
I am happy to see Lovaza succeed and GSK build a franchise in this market segment. It should be an eye opening example for other pharma companies.
Perhaps one day the fence will be torn down between nutraceuticals and pharma, allowing consumers real freedom.