Side Effects May Include…

Sorry if this seems a little deep today but there is something on my mind. 

Okay, so I’m watching TV and this commercial comes on for Lyrica.  It is an FDA approved drug to treat fibromyalgia.  Now trust me, as a person who suffers from irreversible nerve damage, I totally empathize with anyone dealing with the agony of fibromyalgia.  However the first warning that they read off as a possible side effect, is “uncontrolled thoughts of suicide.”  Seriously?  Suicide?  For goodness sake, it’s not bad enough trying to  keep the façade of a cheery disposition going when having to cope with daily pain, now in their desperate quest for relief, a drug that makes some of those who take it, have the uncontrolled desire to kill them self is what the FDA deems a viable alternative?   What am I missing here? 

To better understand where I’m coming from, take a trip with me if you will, through my magic time tunnel.  The year is 1969 and the month is October.  My very hard working father is eking out a pretty good living with his Diet Rite Cola route.  At this time, Diet Rite is the bestselling diet soda available.  Coke may have been the undisputable king of the carbonated beverages, but Diet Rite had a market all its own.  The secret to the success was the sweetener Cyclamate.  It had been around in one form or another since about the mid to late 1930’s and for beverages, it offered a sugar-free alternative without the bitter aftertaste of saccharin. 

Suddenly, FDA scientist Jacqueline Verrett appeared on NBC’s Huntley/Brinkley Report to show the world deformed chicks that had been injected with huge amounts of Cyclamate. The photos horrified viewers and immediately filled everyone with doubt regarding the sweetener’s safety. 

It was only days later, Abbott Laboratories, the makers of Cyclamate, released another study finding.  A mere eight, out of two hundred and forty laboratory rats, that had been fed the equivalent of an astonishing three hundred and fifty cans of soda a day, developed bladder cancer. 

Now, one could argue that the rodents may have been from the same family.  They’re rats, how do we know how they were reproduced?  If they were from the same gene-pool perhaps bladder cancer may very well have simply been their destiny, just as cancer can run in the family of us humans.  If so, it could have had little to nothing to do with cyclamate.  But honestly people, daily feedings of 350 cans?  I would imagine even sugar would have caused some kind of damage in those doses.    

Ironically, the same lab rats were also fed both cyclamate and saccharine, yet for some unexplainable reason, it was solely cyclamate that took the blame.

So on October 18, 1969 the Food and Drug Administration reacted by placing a ban on the artificial sweetener.  Hardest hit by the sanction was the soft drink industry.  My dad eventually lost his shirt (i.e. his business) and found himself out of work while trying to support his family of five children. 

My awareness to this has been renewed, as I am currently working on a chapter of my book that deals with this particular time in our history.  

Nowadays, the sugar substitute of choice is aspartame AKA, “NutraSweet.”  Astonishingly, Aspartame was not approved until 1981, because the FDA had previously refused to approve it, due to seizures and brain tumors this chemical produced in lab animals.  That’s not even the worst of it, Methanol more commenly known as “wood alcohol,” (a deadly poison) seems to become a byproduct of the sweetener.  The absorption of methanol into the human body is considerably sped up when “free methanol” is ingested. Free methanol is created from Aspartame when it is heated above 86 degrees Fahrenheit.  Hmmm… last time I checked, wasn’t the average human body temperature 98.6?    

In the long run, Aspartame was approved anyway and is out in there in countless products from sugar-free ice-cream to soda to gelatin.  Go figure?  

Now, back to Lyrica.  It has been approved for use in humans because it may relieve your pain, or…

it may mess with your brain so much, that you will want to kill yourself.  

However cycalmate was banned because ridiculously high levels that could not be consumed naturally may or may not have effected 8 rats. 

{{{Sigh}}} All I want to know is, who is looking out for us consumers if we apparently cannot count on the FDA to have our back? 

Until next time,

Don

1 Comment

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One response to “Side Effects May Include…

  1. Finally time to sit and log in. Sorry it took so long. Loving it.

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