Letter: Big Pharma More Dangerous Than Supplements

This letter is in response to last week’s opinion column by Jules Rabin on the “dangers” of supplements, when combined with “meds.”

Here is a 2012 report from the American Association of Poison Control Centers. It doesn’t exactly fit Mr. Rabin’s description. Hasn’t he listened to all the drug commercials and the side effects? Granted, people should check with their doctors first. They also should buy “designer” supplements, not “supermarket cheapies.”

The American Association of Poison Control Centers’ report utilized the data from 60 poison control centers. They handled 2,479,355 human poison exposures of all sorts. Analgesics, all “Big Pharma” products, accounted for 11.7 percent of all poisonings, the largest percentage, followed by cosmetics/personal-care products at 7.7 percent, household cleaners at 7.4 percent, and sedatives/hypnotics/antipsychotics, another Big Pharma group of products, at 5.8 percent.

The category dietary supplements/herbals/homeopathic/amino acids, which starts on page 1,138 of the report, indicated a single death, but even that one can be discounted because it’s listed as “unknown dietary supplements or homeopathic agents.” There wasn’t a single death from any product in this category. Ma Huang, which has been treated as if it were public enemy No. 1, caused no deaths. Echinacea, valerian, St. John’s Wort, entire classes of herbal types, such as Asian and Ayurvedic medicines, and many others resulted in no deaths, though the FDA is clearly on the attack against them.

Ruth Berman, West Palm Beach