- Virginia Waters
- January 22, 2013 - 13:53
@JM - With some exception (e.g. Vitamin D), it should be possible to get most of our nutrient needs from dietary sources. Unfortunately our food chain has been badly compromised and our dietary habits leave a lot to desired. So, for many people, careful supplementation is important. I wholeheartedly agree that the quality of supplements needs greater oversight, but you are incorrect in your assertion that profits for natural remedies are higher than for pharmaceuticals. The reason we don't have more studies on the efficacy of natural remedies is that these products are in the public domain. They cannot be patented and exploited in the same way as drugs. Big pharma has three lobbyists in Washington for every lawmaker for good reason - they can well afford it, and because it gives them tremendous influence over public health policy. One enlightened approach would be to place a surtax on (already obscene) pharma company incomes to fund research on natural remedies. As to the flu vaccine, remember that when you get your shot in the Fall, you have no idea whether the manufacturer correctly guessed the strains that would be in play. Only if it guesses right does the 50% efficacy rate kick in. 95% of all deaths during flu season are people over 65, and yet repeated studies have shown that the vaccine offers little protection to that age group. There are well respected scientists and doctors who believe flu shots actually erode the ability of the immune system to fight disease, and that they come with the risk of serious side-effects such as Guillain-Barre syndrome. Still I don't recommend anyone not take it - just that they be given a better understanding of the risks and rewards. Otherwise thanks for your comment.
- January 22, 2013 - 15:59
@Virginia Just a correction to your point and a clarification of my own - i was talking about the profitability of vaccines, not pharma as a whole. The global value of the vaccine market is estimated around $18 billion as of 2010. The nutritional supplement market is in excess of $68 billion as of 2010 and projected to hit $207 billion by 2016. The market for vaccines is very limited and tightly regulated. They are not sold privately. The only buyer is the gov't. The money is not in vaccines. Furthermore, who can produce vaccines is tightly controlled and monitored. Supplement manufacturers can be anyone - Pepsi, Walmart, Mars, Nestle as well as Glaxo and Pfizer are in on the game. Do you expect me to believe that Pepsi is more interested in the quality of my health than Health Canada is? As for the flu vaccine, what goes into it is not determined by a manufacturer. The mix is determined by the WHO and various global health agencies who monitor flu strains - but yes, its still an educated guess regardless of who makes the call and they may get it wrong, A flu vaccine only covers 3 possible variants and there may be dozens or hundreds of strains circulating at any given time. In terms of efficacy, you talked of vitamins C & D, anti-oxidants and echinacea as preventives. Presuming your diet is good for the first 3, then you are only buying one supplement as I presume you do not grow your own echinacea and serve it for dinner. All the research I found, indicates that there is no evidence that a person who encounters a novel form of flu that they have not encountered previously will not get an infection following your suggestion. Effectively your prescription has 0% efficacy. The flu shot on the other hand, suggests at its lowest estimate will be 50% effective against a vaccinated virus. now just looking at this years flu shot mix and the major strains that seem to be circulating, a vaccinated person's odds are much better that one following your natural prescription of not getting the flu. As to the potential complications of being vaccinated, I'm not familiar with your particular study. However, the ratio of serious complications and doses given is quite low(risk is quite low) otherwise a vaccine would not be considered safe or administered.
- January 22, 2013 - 06:42
I wonder what percentage of people who don't get the flu shot get the flu. I don't see those numbers anywhere.
- Virginia Waters
- January 21, 2013 - 11:08
This is a badly written article. But what it does do - unintentionally perhaps - is underscore just how little benefit there is from getting vaccinated. Some will say of course that it's worth it even if it only reduces your chances of getting the flu by 50%. But that depends on whether: (1) you are under age two or over age 65 - in which case studies have shown there is virtually no benefit; (2) you accept that even this 50% benefit is the result of statistical manipulation by the vaccine manufacturers and by their boosters in the FDA, the CDC and the other groups that have a financial interest in perpetuating the myth that these vaccines are effective; (3) you ignore the other side of the balance sheet - that is, the risks of an adverse reaction or (especially for small children) genetic damage that can cause life-long debilitating illness. If you're still among those who believe that pharmaceutical companies are out to help you - and not themselves - you might read yesterday's article in the National Post 'Poison in Healthy Doses'. The better defence against the flu and colds, of course, is to strengthen your own immune system with a good diet, exercise, sleep as well as naturally occurring substances like vitamins C & D, anti-oxidants and echinacea. We may very well find a vaccine or other chemically engineered remedy some day for the flu and the common cold, but the pharma industry will never be motivated to go look for it as long as it continues to make massive profits from the useless products they already have on the market.
- January 22, 2013 - 07:27
@Virginia - I have to question the strong position you hold against vaccines which seem largely driven by suspicion of big pharma motives while in the same breath advertising supplements that have have no scientific evidence for preventing or limiting the effects of colds or influenza that are also produced and sold by big pharma companies. Furthermore, i would argue that there are bigger margins and more profit to be made in peddling echinacea and vitamin C tables than there are in vaccines. Supplements are cheap to produce, no proof is required as to quality or effectiveness, they are loosely regulated, you're far less likely to get sued and most of your marketing is done by suspicious fools who who can't distinguish between real science and a scam.