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From John Hammill, President
International Advocates for Health Freedom

No matter what country you live in,  please join IAHF in sending 
email to President Bush and to the US Congress  demanding that Bush reign in 
Christine Lewis-Taylor of the FDA who is "on loan"  to the (so called) World 
Health Organization, where she is in charge of the (so  called) "Nutrient 
Assessment" workshop which in May will proceed to "fill  in the blanks" on 
allowable potency levels at CODEX. (If you live outside the  USA, please copy 
your letter to Bush to your elected officials).

There  has been zero transparency in how Taylor (a Dietician and former 
assistant US  Delegate to the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for 
Special Dietary Uses)  has gone about selecting the 18 people who will be making 
these determinations  as to what the allowable potency levels for vitamins and 
minerals will be. (All  applicants on our side have been rejected by Taylor 
including Robert Verkerk,  PhD, Exec Dir of the UK based Alliance for Natural 
Health despite his having  made just one of 16 submissions to WHO on this 

See the NY Times  article below (at end) about the rampant corruption at FDA 
wherein Vioxx,  Celebrex and Bextra were fraudulently approved despite 
safety concerns  by a panel of people which included scientists who had 
worked in the past for  Merck, and Pfizer, makers of these dangerous drugs.

The New York Times (February 25, 2005)

10 Voters on  Panel Backing Pain Pills Had Industry Ties

Ten of the 32 government drug advisers who last week endorsed  continued 
marketing of the huge-selling pain pills Celebrex, Bextra and Vioxx  have 
consulted in recent years for the drugs' makers, according to disclosures  in 
medical journals and other public records.

If the 10 advisers had not  cast their votes, the committee would have voted 
12 to 8 that Bextra should be  withdrawn and 14 to 8 that Vioxx should not 
return to the market. The 10  advisers with company ties voted 9 to 1 to keep 

Bextra on the market and 9 to 1  for Vioxx's return.

The votes of the 10 did not substantially influence  the committee's decision 

on Celebrex because only one committee member voted  that Celebrex should be 

Eight of the 10 members said in  interviews that their past relationships 
with the drug companies had not  influenced their votes. The two others did 
respond to phone or e-mail  messages.

Researchers with ties to industry commonly serve on Food and  Drug 
Administration advisory panels, but their presence has long been a  
contentious issue.

The agency has said it tries to balance expertise -  often found among those 
who have conducted clinical trials of the drugs in  question or otherwise 
studied them - with potential conflicts of  interest.

Several of the panel members flagged with conflicts said most  or all of the 
money went not to themselves but to their universities or  institutions.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy  group in 
Washington that maintains a large database of scientists' industry ties  
culled from 
disclosures in medical journals and other public documents, analyzed  the 
members' affiliations at the request of The New York Times.

The  center has been a frequent critic of the F.D.A. and of the 
pharmaceutical  industry. The center's analysis may understate the industry 
ties of the panel  participants because some ties may not have been previously 
disclosed  publicly.

Dr. Sheldon Krimsky, a science policy expert at Tufts  University, said such 
conflicts were common on F.D.A. advisory panels. The  agency often conceals 
these conflicts, and studies have shown that, taken as a  whole, money does 
influence scientific judgments, Dr. Krimsky said.

He  added, "F.D.A. has to work harder to fill panels with people without 
conflicts,  and if they feel they have the best committee, they at least 
ought to make it  transparent."

A spokeswoman for the F.D.A. said no one at the agency would  comment on 
specific panel members' industry ties.

Before each of three  meetings of the advisory board last week, an agency 
secretary read a statement  absolving panel members of conflicts of interest 
because the committee's agenda  involved "issues of broad applicability and 
there are no products being  approved."

The secretary also said, "The Food and Drug Administration  acknowledges that 

there may be potential conflicts of interest, but because of  the general 
nature of the discussions before the committee, these potential  conflicts 

But the committee took nine votes, three for  each drug, on whether Celebrex, 

Bextra or Vioxx hurt the heart, should continue  to be marketed and, if so, 
under what restrictions. These votes were deeply  important to the three 
companies - Merck, Pfizer and Novartis - that came before  the committee.

Indeed, shares of Merck and Pfizer soared last Friday  after the panel's 

Ten members of the panel have worked in some  capacity in recent years for 
Merck, the maker of Vioxx; Pfizer, the maker of  Celebrex and Bextra; or 
Novartis, which is applying to sell Prexige, a very  similar pill discussed 
by the panel, according to the public  disclosures.

Of the 30  votes cast by the 10 panel members on whether Celebrex, Bextra and 

Vioxx should  continue to be marketed, 28 favored the drugs. Among the 66 
votes cast by the  remaining 22 members of the panel, just 37 favored the 

crtics of the drug industry said  they were not surprised that the panel's 
decisions would have been different if  scientists with financial ties to the 

companies had recused themselves from the  votes.

"My employees usually vote for me as well," said W. Mark Lanier, a  lawyer in 

Houston who represents people who have sued Merck after taking Vioxx  and 
suffering heart attacks or strokes.

Some lawyers and Wall Street  analysts said last week that the panel's 
decision would help to protect Merck  and Pfizer from lawsuits. But juries 
will be 
more skeptical of the decision  after they learn about the composition of the 

panel, Mr. Lanier  said.

Dr. Furberg said clinicians often wanted  access to therapies without 
understanding the devastating public health  consequences of their 
decisions. Celebrex, Bextra and Vioxx have  never been proved in clinical 
trials to cure pain any better than ibuprofen or  more than a dozen other, older 
pain pills.

"Fifty patients a day probably  die from those drugs, and who is speaking for 

them?" Dr. Furberg  said.

Dr. Alastair Wood, an associate dean at Vanderbilt University and  the 
panel's chairman, said he was disappointed that the F.D.A. failed to  
disclose the financial conflicts of the panel's participants before each day's  

"I'm a great believer in letting it all hang out," he  said.

Still, Dr. Wood said that even with its conflicts the panel was a  tough 
critic of the drugs. Many of the panel members who were among the narrow  
majorities approving continued marketing of Bextra and Vioxx did so only with 
 the stipulation that severe restrictions be imposed on their uses, he  

He said he expected that the uses of the drugs would be confined  to very 
limited patient populations.

For Health Freedom,
John  C. Hammell, President
International Advocates for Health Freedom
556  Boundary Bay Road
Point Roberts, WA 98281-8702  USA
800-333-2553  N.America
360-945-0352  World

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