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Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, August 7, 2008

AOL Shills For Big Pharma

by Andrew W. Saul

(OMNS, August 7, 2008) Drug Company Propaganda on AOL's Health Page

"AOL's Dangerous Vitamins" (1) is loaded with much more than your recommended daily dose of misinformation. "Medical experts are concerned that you may be at risk for vitamin overload"! "Be wary of high doses"! "Increased risk of all-cause mortality"!

Yes, AOL surely wants you to stop taking vitamins. Dangerous, they say. Overdoses, they say.

Baloney. Where are the bodies? According to 24 years of nation-wide data collected by the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there is not even one death per year from vitamin "overdosing." (2) Half of the population takes them, and the more they take, the healthier they are. (3) Vitamins have long been proven exceptionally safe, even in high doses. (4)

How come AOL does not know that vitamin supplements are safe and effective? Or do they? Let's take a closer look. A small webpage note indicates that the "Dangerous Vitamins" article is "presented by Journey for Control." Say, guess who "Journey for Control" really is? Click the link and see for yourself: "Journey for Control is a trademark of Merck & Co., Inc." Yes, that is indeed the huge drug conglomerate. How about that: an anti-vitamin article promoted by a drug company.

One word question: Why? One word answer: Cash. At the Merck website, you can get a load of their dollar-driven agenda. Merck is on a "journey for control," to be sure. They want information control to consumers. For instance, Merck believes that "Direct-to-Consumer Advertising contributes to greater public awareness about conditions and diseases, as well as available treatments." And as for lobbying, Merck believes it just fine "where government initiatives to control health care costs and regulate the health care system will directly affect the Company's business and the incentives for pharmaceutical innovation."

Note that telling last phrase, "directly affect the Company's business and the incentives for pharmaceutical innovation." The biggest threat to big pharma profits is a healthy populace that does not use their expensive drugs. People who take more vitamins are healthier than people than people who take too few: it is just that simple. Thousands of peer-reviewed research studies show this over and over again: Vitamin therapy is very safe and very effective. Merck Pharmaceutical and their mercenary information-puppet AOL don't much like it.

Conspiracy thinking, you say? Unfortunately, no. The US Food and Drug Administration, whose task is supposedly to regulate the drug industry, agrees that high-dose vitamin preparations are direct competition for their pet clients, the pharmaceutical industry. Nothing new there. FDA Deputy Commissioner for Policy David Adams, at the Drug Information Association Annual Meeting, back in July 12, 1993, said:

"Pay careful attention to what is happening with dietary supplements in the legislative arena... If these efforts are successful, there could be created a class of products to compete with approved drugs. The establishment of a separate regulatory category for supplements could undercut exclusivity rights enjoyed by the holders of approved drug applications."

And the FDA Dietary Task Force Report, released June 15, 1993, said:

"The task force considered many issues in its deliberations including to ensure that the existence of dietary supplements on the market does not act as a disincentive for drug development."

This is the real reason Merck Pharmaceutical seeks shills to generate anti-vitamin propaganda. Since Merck Pharmaceutical can't get this control without media help, they get AOL's editorial staff to do their work for them. There is no mistake about it: the author of "Dangerous Vitamins" is Caroline Howard, who, says her AOL bio, is a "senior editor on AOL's Health site." Neither her previous job experience "as photo editor for the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, AP, and the Village Voice," nor her bachelor's degree in social science and photography, nor even her master's in journalism especially qualify her as a nutrition expert. And yet there it is; nutritional nonsense online for millions to see. "Dangerous Vitamins" is crude vitamin-bashing, written by AOL, bankrolled by Merck, and read by you. And your friends and your family.

It is time to say it out loud: AOL is on the take. Now you know. Click away from AOL. Get your nutrition news elsewhere, somewhere where the "information" is not bought and paid for by big pharma.


(1) [be sure to include the question mark in the link]

(2) Annual Reports of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poisoning and Exposure Database (AAPCC), 3201 New Mexico Avenue, Ste. 330, Washington, DC 20016. Download any report from1983-2006 at free of charge. The "Vitamin" category is usually near the end of the report.

(3) Block G, Jensen CD, Norkus EP, Dalvi TB, Wong LG, McManus JF, Hudes ML. Usage patterns, health, and nutritional status of long-term multiple dietary supplement users: a cross-sectional study. Nutr J. 2007 Oct 24;6(1):30


OMNS Update: AOL now appears to have dropped the "Presented by Journey for Control" link to Merck Inc. from their "Dangerous Vitamins" article. The text of the article appears unchanged.

Nutritional Medicine is Orthomolecular Medicine

Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information:

The peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service is a non-profit and non-commercial informational resource.

Editorial Review Board:

Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D.
Damien Downing, M.D.
Harold D. Foster, Ph.D.
Steve Hickey, Ph.D.
Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D.
James A. Jackson, PhD
Bo H. Jonsson, MD, Ph.D
Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D.
Erik Paterson, M.D.
Gert E. Shuitemaker, Ph.D.

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