9. Non-Prescription Drugs - The Ultimate Confidence Game

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), up to 500,000 different non-prescription remedies generate at least $ 3.51 billion in sales every year and, according to its investigating experts who amassed 14,000 volumes of evidence on these over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, the people who purchase them are "the victims of a gigantic medical hoax." According to author/researcher Daniel Zwerdling, the conclusions of intensive independent studies first launched in 1972 by more than 100 leading medical researchers, physicians and pharmacologists recruited by the FDA are that "at least half the drugs are worthless or of dubious value, and some may be harmful. Most of the products are labeled with misleading claims, and many are advertised with bold lies." While the industry invests in massive advertising campaigns, it spends comparatively little in developing and testing new drugs. "Major OTC producers spend at least $ 400 million in network T.U. spots each year ... telling consumers, about fifty times a day, that medically ineffective products will really work." And "the entire OTC industry probably spends less than $ 1 million each year developing new OTC ingredients." The 1962 Food, Drug and Cosmetic law requires the FDA to ban any drug if "there is a lack of substantial evidence that the drug will have the effect the manufacturer claims it does." Yet, the FDA leisurely circumvents the law and continues to allow the drug companies to stall taking their unproven products off the market. The FDA attorneys "protect the product in a sort of limbo, tailor-made for the drug companies"... allowing the "industry to continue advertising and marketing the products for up to five years or longer while its researchers feverishly try to prove that the drugs really work." The story of how the American public is the victim of the "ultimate confidence game" being played by the OTC drug industry and the FDA qualifies it for nomination as one of the "best censored" stories of 1976.

SOURCE: "Non-Prescription Drugs -- The Ultimate Confidence Game" by Daniel Zwerdling; New Times, September 17, 1976, p 36.