Wednesday, February 9, 2011


February 9, 2011

Goodbye Eckerd I must leave you. Solong CVS. Walmart and Walgreens, Carmichaels, Rite-Aid and all the rest. You’ve lost one of your best vitamin junkies.
I used to have so many pills on my plate it was almost a complete meal. If you shook me I rattled. But not any more, not since I thought to ask the vitamin and supplement makers one simple question and got a bunch of evasive answers back.
The question: Where were your pills made?
I asked because nowhere on the countless bottles in my medicine cabinet did it give this information. Everything else on sale in this country lists its origin, even when it’s “hecho en Mexico”. But not our vitamins.
Not only that, there’s no government supervision, which must delight the Tea Party crowd. But with no official oversight you’re forced to take the word of the manufacturer that what’s in these vitamins really is in them and that ingesting them will do you this or that good. And no harm.
My concern is that I’m being asked to trust people who’re out to make money off me and at the same time don’t tell me upfront where their stuff is from.
So I asked them flat out. Where?
I put this question to Walmart’s Members Mark and manufacturers like Nature Made, Nature’s Bounty, Life Fitness, Spring Valley and Finest Natural. And notice, by the way, how the names are sunny and bright and exude such delightful fresh natural goodness. Now isn’t that reassuring!
Surprise surprise, they all said their tablets were “distributed” in the USA. Duh, where else? They also said their pills were made here, yes-yes manufactured in America. Prodded further, they conceded that the ingredients, however, were “foreign”. Some said “from all over the world”. But I had to almost verbally waterboard these fancy-footstep pharmaceutical folks to get the real answer, and it is (drum roll, please, on an unsafe Asian-made toy percussion instrument)...
C’mon now, we all kinda suspected that anyway, didn’t we? Pretty much. Some of the companies also named Indonesia, India, Brazil, Japan and Canada.
Other firms would admit only that “some” of their ingredients come in from “abroad” - abroad meaning Communist China, of course. Because the mere fact that these companies dance that wary waltz around the answer indicates that they’re ashamed of... no, that can’t be because I doubt shame is a corporate emotion.
China, the worst place I can think of. Our enemy in 1949 and still our enemy today. A godforsaken country where political prisoners are reportedly killed so their organs can be harvested and sold. A country only just out of penury that steals our technology, our copyrights, pirates our patents and floods our market with dangerous toys and toothpaste, poisoned pet food and on and on. They’ve killed an estimated 5,000 of our dogs and cats and some of us as well, harmed our kids and today we’re still gulping down their tablets with gay abandon.
They make nearly every single Vitamin-C pill we Americans take and huge percentages of all the other vitamins and supplements. They were caught putting out fake Viagra made of gypsum, aka drywall. And let’s not forget the toxic Chinese sheetrock scandal during the building boom here in the South.
With prescription medicine, some highly dangerous, it’s been a likely kamikaze exercise and complicit in it are not only the pharmaceutical firms but the FDA itself. Under Bush, this government agency was run by industry insiders who gagged their own scientists in order to push suspect drugs onto the market. Today’s FDA has begun to clamp down, but it’ll take time.
The agency warned about some Chinese-made supplements, however these and vitamins remain unregulated because they’re neither food nor drugs.
Maybe someone can develop a pill that grows teeth. Then we could force-feed the FDA several bucketsful to put some bite into that agency.
Until then we must be our own FDA, every one of us. Read every word on the label. Ignore phrases like “carefully manufactured” and “laboratory tested under strict quality assurance programs”. They mean nothing at all and are put there to deceive us into thinking all’s well. Instead, look for the half-truths, the unanswered questions and the information that isn’t there - it’s been omitted deliberately.
And what’s with this Bohemia? All roads once led to Rome, but now most lead to a New York township that’s significantly smaller than Monroe. That’s right, many of the above-named vitamin companies are based there. Call them and you get the same recorded voice, and oftentimes get through to the same live representative reciting the same elusive mantra at you.
Notice how, on the bottle, it always says: “These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.” Snake oil, snake pills and we still buy into all the marketing hype. We delude ourselves that China is clean and safe.
Trust the FDA? The pharma-vitamin people? Trust China? No thanks.
Most depressing is seeing our old folk spending their Social Security on fish oil and these other vitamins and supplements in the belief that they’re extending or improving their healthful lives. Whatever the makers’ claims, there is no clear proof of this. Every bottle even has that big fat disclaimer about not affecting any disease.
So I’d say go for foods that really are natural, not just words on a bottle. Turmeric, onion, garlic, apples, oranges, spinach, collards. The nutriments our Founding Fathers took.
I still take blood pressure pills, but researching this article made my blood boil all the same.


© 2011 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.