Sunday, March 04, 2007

Molly has sold certain nutriceuticals, especially for her canine patients, for some time now. Aside from the omega-3 fatty acids the main item is a combination product containing glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate called 'Cosequin'. One of Molly's own cats is receiving daily supplements of same. It's not a big market for Molly as she often recommends that owners of large dogs purchase their supplements from a human pharmacy and "work down" on the dose given the weight of their dog. Now, Molly is not a devotee of the religion that could be described as "naturophilia" ie the superstitious belief that there is something "magical" about so-called "natural compounds" that makes them mysteriously better than totally synthetic compounds. Being half-Irish she cannot see the difference between "Protestant chemicals" and "Catholic chemicals" despite her ethnic background, and this is an exact metaphor for the belief that there is something magical about "natural". As with any religion there are also an incredible amount of predators who take advantage of such beliefs to empty the wallets of the believers. The best research in the human field has concluded that there is no benefit to sufferers of osteoarthritis, like Molly herself, from taking glucosamine alone, and the research in the veterinary field is ambiguous enough to draw the same conclusion vis-a-vis dogs. The jury is still out, however, regarding the benefit of glucosamine/chondroitin combinations, and so Molly still either sells or recommends them.
This is despite her knowledge of a much deeper level of dishonesty in the nutriceutical market which she hopes to bypass by her usual recommendation that owners never purchase such drugs from an health food store (they are the ultimate epitomy of crookedness in our society falling way below used car salesmen for shear dishonesty) but only from a pharmacy. This is because Molly is fully aware that health food quackery not only makes false claims for efficacy of certain chemicals but is connected to dishonest manufacturers who routinely misrepresent the actual levels of chemicals in the drugs that they sell, to the extent that there may be none of the chemical claimed on the label in the little funny capsules sold at inflated prices in such drug dens. About the only thing that Molly says is "safe" to buy at a health food store are yeast tablets. Yeast is industrial waste and is ultra-cheap and so there is little incentive to lie about it. Simply weigh it, put it in a capsule and charge a markup of 1000% for the marks.
I know in my heart of hearts that purchase from a pharmacy is no guarantee of honesty in labelling, but I still believe that the pharmacies are a few orders of magnitude above the systemic dishonesty of health food stores because lies are not their total business. Yet something I have recently read gives me pause in that it reinforces the need for vigilance on the part of veterinarians, and by implication pharmacists as well. I am only happy that this paper says that what I have been doing to date in terms of my own sales is OK. Anyways...
The item is a comparative analysis of the amounts of glucosamine and chondroitin present in 7 different nutriceutical products manufactured for the veterinary community and their correlation with label claims. The authors are Bertrand Lussier and Maxim Moreau of the Companion Animal Research Group, Faculte de mediceine veterinaire, University de Montreal (the French speaking veterinary college here in Canada). The research was sponsored by the generic drug manufacturer Novo-Pharm in their expectation that their product 'Novo-Flex' would measure up to various brand name formulations marketed to veterinarians here in Canada. It did more than measure up ! There were six other brand name formulations tested: Kirkland, Equate, Ubavet, Cosequin, Osteo 3, and Con-Glu. The results for glucosamine, the cheaper chemical, were not extraordinary. Only Ubavet and Osteo-3 fell significantly below the label claims, by -28.9% and -15.2% respectively. For the more expensive chemical, chondroitin, however, the variation from label claims was astounding: -98.7% for Equate (practically none available in their pills), -83.7% for Uba-Vet, and -19.9% for Osteo 3. Only the Kirkland product, Cosequin and the generic formulation Novo-flex measured up, all of them exceeding the label claims (which are typically expressed as "minimums").
It's food for thought. It says to me that I should stick with Cosequin for my own sales until further research verifies the Novo-Pharm claims. It also, however, says to me that I should be a little more cautious is recommending pharmacy purchases and should perhaps recommend a "house brand" first over other items on the shelf. I think that i can presume that pharmacy house brands have quality control that is superior to those of the other items on their shelf. Something to look up.
Once more, there is no firm proof that a glucosamine/chondroitin mixture does any good for osteoarthritis sufferers, but like much in medicine this is provisional. The authors of the paper from the Universite de Montreal conclude that federal legislation to enforce compliance with minimal standards of honesty in nutriceutical labels would be desirable. As an anarchist I'd like to avoid this conclusion, but it seems like a reasonable reform in the absence of popular education, particularly as so many anarchists-and other leftists- buy into the obvious lies of health food quackery. Those who attempt to educate the public are small in number as compared to those who attempt to steal from the public, and too many of the supposed friends of the public buy into the popular crooked lies for various ideological reasons.


Mike said...

Hi, this isn't a comment,but a request for more info as I was just about to buy more UBAVET when I saw your post:
1: Can you give the web adress for Molly's store ?
2: Can you post links to the Novo-Flex study ?
I tried everything I could think of without results for both questions
Thanks a bunch !

Anonymous said...

I hope people don't believe everything they read. Molly, you are talking about a test paid for by some company. The results show that "their" product is the winner and other manufacturers score -19%. How can you have minus -19% of anything. Where is the impartial study, paid for by the orthopedic society? Shame on you for printing such rubbish. Anyone hear of a double blind test? N'est pas!

mollymew said...

As opposed to the 'word" of Ubavet which, of course, is an objective source as opposed to peer reviewed literature where the academic reputation of the author hangs upon their honesty. Quite frankly the whole field of "nutricuetical" is full of shysters.