Drug Shortage and the Surprising Truth about What It Really Does for Your Health

Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth. (Sherlock Holmes)

Currently we can experience drug shortages in many areas. This is not a new situation; the issue was highly present back in 2011[1], when the number of drug shortages (mainly generic sterile injectable drugs) rose. Now things have changed but definitely not for the better. Around 60% of the cases happen due to the fact that the manufacturers and suppliers have a limited production and capacity of raw materials. This doesn’t only concern generic drugs but also supplements and nutraceuticals. However FDA has taken action to mitigate the problem, it still remains.

Another significant reason—besides the ones mentioned above—is the way how cheapness is given to people, e.g. as it happens with corn or soy that are now almost completely genetically modified (GMO). This makes sourcing non-GMO even more difficult to find, as only few are growing it. Less costs more: butter that is salted is cheaper than salt free for instance, which is crazy but true. We have to face it, we have done it to ourselves when China, India, and others had offered things cheaply and we, the society, jumped all over it putting the quality US, German and Japanese producers out of business due to the higher demand, losing our leverage. Now China controls all the manufacturing for raw ingredients for generic drugs and supplements, and at any time they can flex their muscles and squeeze the market with higher prices.

Though genetically modified tend to get some better sounding names such as “nutritionally enhanced”, it really is just a marketing move to sell the idea of GMO being safe and feeding the world, or presenting it as something with “the ability to combat chronic disease” and “make a positive impact on global human health.”[2] This is not articulated only in studies aimed to reach the scientific community but even pushed to platforms such as TED Talk where they work as a paid advertisement hidden behind educational speeches. In spite of opposition groups, GMO crops now account for more than 300 million acres worldwide and grown by over 17 million farmers in more than 25 countries, the top 5 countries are Canada, the United States, Brazil, India and Argentina.

This is a soil from which businesses can grow, claiming that they have a better environmentally friendly solution. Like the Impossible Burger[3] which is in fact a GMO food with GMO yeast that has never even been approved and declared to be safe by the FDA. Apparently, most of the things are not what they look like, especially with the surprising possibility of unexpected toxicity or allergenicity.

“The claims made for the Impossible Burger’s health and environmental credentials are at best questionable and at worst highly misleading. But the more fundamental point is that this burger, the product of poorly tested novel and synthetic ingredients and GMOs, represents the opposite of what an increasingly food-aware and environmentally conscious public wants: pure, minimally processed natural ingredients, free from GMOs, transparently sourced, and produced with as few chemical and synthetic inputs as possible.

But what does the public really want? It is easy to state that we want all natural ingredients, foods and products when in fact the majority is still not willing to pay more for those desired non-GMO and non-toxic goods. Until we start supporting ethical producers and nutraceutical suppliers not willing to compromise with raw materials, they are not going to be able to compete with corporations playing the cheap and dirty game. It’s not the other way around and it is the consumer’s choice regarding the outcome. Choose wisely.

References:

[1] Van Arnum, Patricia. 2019.

[2] Hefferon, Kathleen L. 2015.

[3] Robinson, Claire and Antoniou, Michael PhD. 2018.