I-Team: Big Pharma Standing in Way of Natural Drug - 8 News NOW

I-Team: Big Pharma Standing in Way of Natural Drug

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Longevinex President Bill Sardi Longevinex President Bill Sardi
Joyce Brown said Longevinex gave her back her sight Joyce Brown said Longevinex gave her back her sight
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LAS VEGAS -- The shelves of health food stores are packed with the kind of herbs and natural remedies that humans have used for thousands of years, but the makers of vitamins and supplements are prohibited by law from asserting there are any medical benefits at all. The drug industry has flexed its political muscles to make sure of that.

"You can't patent a natural product, so there's no money in it for the pharma companies," said J.C. Cox, manager of Rainbow's End, a health food store. "My belief is that they are in the business of keeping people almost on the verge of being well."

The supplement industry has resisted attempts by the drug companies to put vitamins under the Federal Drug Administration's control, suspecting the FDA dances to big pharma's tune, but there are more than a few snake oil salesmen in the business.

Joyce Brown of Mesquite, Nev., is no longer blind, thanks to a product called Longevinex, but she had tried other forms of resveratrol, with no success.

"It's the body that heals," Brown said. "It's God that heals."

Many of the resveratrol products are worthless, Longevinex President Bill Sardi said.

"It's become deceptive, and sometimes they try to say they're cheaper, and there's hardly anything in there, it's in micrograms," he said. "That's not enough to produce a biological effect."

Longevinex is probably the most expensive from of resveratrol to produce, but even at that, it would cost a consumer under a dollar a day to take it. Studies in Europe have proven it can prevent strokes and heart attacks, wards off cancer, and helps with a variety of ailments related to aging. But the U.S. medical establishment won't go near it.

Political Contributions by Drug Companies

"We have been at this for eight years and not one human study yet," Sardi said. "Not one cardiology test in the last eight years. Someone is not on the right street."

Knapp: "Meaning they don't want it to work?"

Sardi: "You hate to think that, but it kind of looks that way."

Sardi said he thinks it is all about money. Joyce Brown isn't the only blind person whose vision was restored by Longevinex. Nearly two dozen veterans at the VA hospital in Chicago report improved vision after taking it under the care of Dr. Stuart Richer. But Richer said few, if any, eye doctors are willing to even look at his results. The preferred treatment in America is a drug injected directly into the eyes every four to six weeks. The drug was originally developed to fight cancer and doctors charged $50 per dose for it. Eye doctors charge about $2,000 per dose for the same basic drug, plus the drug company pays a kickback, too.

"Doctors are making a few hundred dollars on every injection, every four to six months, weeks -- excuse me," Sardi said. "It cost about $1 for a one milligram dose of manufacturing cost, and they're making and billing Medicare $2,000 for this drug."

Sardi said that if all of the 30,000 or more older Americans who go blind each year were to have the injections, this one treatment alone would bankrupt Medicare. The injections represent huge profits for the drug companies and a steady income for doctors, which is why Sardi alleges they don't want to hear about a cheap, natural cure for blindness.

Richer said he thinks the best approach would be to use both the injections and Longevinex, and to have a formal study with human patients to verify his results, but, he added, outside of his hospital, the medical profession doesn't want to know about it.

"There are roadblocks," Richer said. "We've been trying to get our basic data published and it's been difficult."

Richer said there are no serious side effects, so not much risk from a wider study. In fact, he sees overall health improvement in his eye patients who take it. Brown got her eyesight back. The same capsules stabilized her husband's irregular heartbeat. She said she's appalled that big pharma is standing in the way of others who might also benefit.

"I'm sitting there as a success," she said. "My husband is sitting there with me. I have my vision back and they did not think I could do it. He said we need a double blind study. I say why do you need a double blind study when it works? Here it is."

Sardi said he plans to petition the FDA to allow a Longevinex study, but one that does not rely on giving placebos to half the patients, since it would mean those patients would be almost certain to remain blind. Sardi said he does not expect the FDA to grant his request.

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