Vitamin D Toxicity and the Courts

I find it extremely interesting this past week when Gary Null, a health guru, filed suit over an extreme amount of vitamin D in one of his supplements.  It seems that what should have been 2,000 IU of D3 turn out to be 2,000,000 IU of D3.  It is interesting that the courts would even consider this lawsuit.  There is such a tiny amount of difference how could the manufacturer be held accountable.  The numbers look large and your body sees them as large but it is still a very small difference.  We are talking about the difference in 50 micrograms versus 50 milligrams.  Have you ever tried to measure 50 micrograms of material?  Here is the article in the LA Times.

Vitamin D has a long history in the courts going all the way back to the height of WWII when manufacturers of over-the-counter vitamin D to prevent rickets were putting such a small amount in the tablets that it would not prevent rickets.  The combined lawsuits were settled when the intellectual property rights of D3 became public domain.  Here the lawsuit was about not getting enough.

Lawsuits like this continued into the 21st century when the FTC and FDA tried to get the ‘shady’ marketing practices of sunscreen products changed in 2000.  It turns out that John Roberts, present Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, lead a group of lawyers that was hired by the sunscreen lobby.  This lobby group successfully defeated the lawsuit.  Today you can buy sunscreen with no warning label at all.  Where is the warning label that says: This product will block the production of one of the most important hormone precursors of the human body, vitamin D3.  Not only does the deficiency cause osteoporosis, it is also significant in the course of all chronic disease including the big three killers, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

If we consider the lawsuits, we see that they are not the same.  One is for two much of a substance that acts to create toxicity and the other is for a deficiency of the substance which causes a significant disease rates.  We have historically held institutions that were responsible for putting toxic substances into our bodies accountable like the tobacco or asbestos industries.  However, when institutions choose to ignore the benefits of a substance, they seem to skate by scot-free.  This ignorance of (ignoring of) vitamin D typically causes about 1,000,000 deaths in the US every year to say nothing about the suffering.  Now is the time and it will take government to act.

Let’s consider another institution that seems to be in the news for some apparent wrong doings.  That is Goldman Sachs.  It seems this market maker puts parties together that are on both sides of a financial vehicle. They know that one side is in significant risk of losing.  Does Goldman have a responsibility to inform the party of the significance of the risk?  The players at this level are considered to be ‘sophisticated’ investors which means that they fully understand the risk and are willing to play with the ‘big boys’.   Gary Null was also a sophisticated health professional.  How is that different?

So what are we supposed to do about institutions in the health care industry that are simply ‘market makers’?  That is they choose to ignore information that they know would be beneficial to society so as to protect their presumed market rights and the opportunity for intellectual property benefits.  This would include manufacturers of sunscreen and researchers that stand to benefit significantly by a large ‘sick market’.  That is everyone in the healthcare industry including and especially insurance providers.  This is such a large group and the lobby so powerful that the possibility of legal action in our lifetime is small.

The best thing that could happen at this point is for A. Cathrine Ross, Chairman of the FNB for Vitamin D and Calcium, make such a statement in the release of their forth coming report that the president of the US and prime minister of Canada will be forced to declare a national emergency.  The rest of the countries of the world will follow suit.  And you Chief Justice Roberts, what will you allowed to be heard in the Supreme Court?

The Legal on Vitamin D

You would think with as much solid research as there is on vitamin D that the attorney’s would be ‘jumping right in’ there.  What is up with this.  It is about the money.  As soon as someone with money figures out that companies and institutions need to pay up for their misadventures, the courts will be ‘slammed’ with cases on vitamin D.  I mean just think about the tobacco issues.  It only really involved cancer and perhaps heart disease.  It did not involve all chronic disease.  When this starts to happen there will have to be congressional action to save the medical profession.  Of course now congress will not take action to save you from some really serious diseases.

So what has happen with the legal.  What I know to date:
In 2001 the FDA and FTC got together and took on the sunscreen and sunblock industry to get them to change the rules of marketing after combining 9 lawsuits.  It seems with the INCREASE in skin cancer by about a factor of X4 since the 1960’s that the sunscreen industry was participating in false advertising.  The marketing changes would have been to assure that the consumers understood that there was really no science to support the industry claims of preventing cancer.  This really seems odd that we would let a judge decide something scientific instead of just letting the facts be the facts – oh yeah, there is money involved.

So the sunscreen industry formed a powerful lobby group and hired a powerful attorney and sucessfully defected the FDA and FTC.  This attorney was so good that he was later made Chief Justice of the Surpreme Court.  Yes, that’s right Chief Justice John Roberts.  Wall Street Jounral Law Blog comment.
Now if I were an attorney and wanted to start a large class action lawsuit that would most likely end up in the supreme court and may take as much as a decade to litigate would I want the final decision maker to have been on the payroll of the group that I was fighting against?  Sounds like ‘trouble in river city’.

Now there is a new suit that was filed in the spring of 2006 agaisnt this same bunch of snake oil producers.  “Sunscreen is the snake oil of the 21st century” says Samuel Rudman filing attorney for the plaintiffs.  That is really some strong language which I think is justified when we are just causing death with many diseases by chasing people out of the sun.

You know what I really think is interesting is that you can go to the store and get a bottle of sunscreen today that has no warning label at all and says that it will prevent cancer if you use it.  The warning label should at least say something like: 


This would better describe the reality of what the product does to you.  In all seriousness, even if the science is confounded which it is not, the label should read that the sunscreen product will prevent the production of vitamin D.  This would at least allow the consumer to make his own decision.

You know it is really interesting that there were not any cohort studies on the tobacco issues.  It was just ‘good men’ doing what was right for you.  Oh yeah, and government stepping in and taking a piece of those large margins made from selling tobacco products.  There have been a large number of cohort studies completed in the last decade on vitamin D and chronic diseases and the research continues to come in at multiple of thousands of new studies every year.  It is a mountain of evidence.

Lawyers are really just waiting for prior case law to be complete so that they will not have to battle.  They will simply walk in and take the spoils from your dying friend or family or from your death.  What a great land of scavengers for profit that we live in.  It is no wonder that people yell that captilism is not the right form of government when the real issue is that our institutions are being corrupted for money that is just like a third world country with a flair for class.

I have the will but not the money.  Is there someone out there that would like to start a legal fund to take on the largest institutions in the land for their misadventure of ignoring the science for profit?

GO INTO THE SUN!!!   – Pandemic Survivor