- Health freedom movement
The term health freedom movement is used to describe the loose coalition of consumers, activists,
alternative medicinepractitioners and producers of products around the world who are pushing for unhindered freedom of choice in healthcare. The movement is critical of the pharmaceutical industry and medical regulators, and uses the term "health freedom" as a catch phraseto convey its message.
Ideology and objectives
Although the concept of health freedom does not preclude the practice of conventional
medicineas such, campaigners generally tend to have strong preferences for orthomolecular, naturopathic, or alternative medicineand an overall distrust of the pharmaceutical industry. [http://www.alliance-natural-health.org/index.cfm?action=news&ID=140 'Why do meddling Eurocrats want to ban your vitamin pills? (Could it be anything to do with the drug giants hoping for huge profits?)', by Geoffrey Lean] . Published in the Daily Mail (Good Health section) on Jan 25 2005. Accessed on the Alliance for Natural Health website April 22 2007.] Some health freedom campaigners would like adults to be free to choose marijuanafor personal or medical use without criminal penalty. The money currently spent on arresting people for possessing pot, they say, could be better used to go after more serious criminals or funding alternative health-care programs. [ [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D05E4D8153DF937A35753C1A961958260 'About New York; A Champion Of Marijuana On the Stump', by DAVID GONZALEZ.] New York Times. Published Oct 4 1997. Accessed 29 Sept 2007.] Other issues promoted by the movement include its opposition to the sharing of genetic information without patient consent [ [http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/congress-inadvertently-legalies-sharing-genetic-information-patient-consent/ 'Congress Inadvertently Legalizes Sharing of Genetic Information Without Patient Consent'] Fox Business. Published May 6, 2008. Accessed May 25 2008.] and its belief that citizens should have greater privacy and control over their health information. [ [http://www.sacbee.com/103/story/951361.html 'State urges people to start gathering, storing medical records on the Web'] Sacramento Bee. Published May 20, 2008. Accessed May 25 2008.] The removal from consumers of access to healthcare products that they had formerly been able to obtain and which had helped their needs for health and survival is viewed by many people in the movement as being leveraged by multinational corporations. [ [http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/act.2008.14102 'Legal Matters: Impact of International Product Regulations on Consumer Access to, and the Manufacturing of, Dietary Supplements: The Need for Health Freedom Advocacy'] Diane M. Miller. Alternative & Complementary Therapies. February 1, 2008, 14(1): 43-47. doi:10.1089/act.2008.14102. Published February 1, 2008. Accessed May 25 2008.]
There is no formal structure to the health freedom movement, although cooperation and coordination among some of the various organizations and individuals involved in it does occur. [ [http://www.edgelife.net/issues/2003/12/johnson.html 'Health Freedom Advocates gather for first Conference', by Jerri Johnson and Linda Peterson.] The Edge newspaper. Published Dec 2003. Accessed 11 Feb 2007.] [ [http://www.thenhf.com/NGO%20Fluoride%20press%20release%20incl%20Editors%20Notes%20_US%20ver_.pdf 'Press Release: Unlicensed drug used for babies condemned by health NGOs'] Published 12 Dec 2006. Accessed 11 Feb 2007.] One of the movement's central claims is that there is a conspiracy by the medical establishment to undermine the advance of the nutritional route to better health. [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/features/article3779042.ece 'Do vitamin supplements do more harm than good?' Article on study published by the
Cochrane Collaboration, quoting Patrick Holford.] The Times. Published April 27, 2008. Accessed 10 September, 2008.] Some of the movement's spokespeople, such as the Alliance for Natural Health, take a more moderate stance on this issue, however, saying that negative media publicity about nutrients such as vitamin Eare a result of misinterpretations over the science. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3998847.stm High dose vitamin E death warning] BBC News, quoted from statement of Dr Rob Verkerk, Executive Director of the Alliance for Natural Health. Published 11 Nov 2004. Accessed 30 Sept 2007.] These campaigners also criticise the latest research indicating that vitamin Csupplements do not protect against the common cold as having a number of fundamental flaws. [ [http://www.nursinginpractice.com/default.asp?title=VitaminCcampaignerssupportsupplements&page=article.display&article.id=4487 Vitamin C campaigners support supplements] Nursing in Practice. Published 19 July 2007. Accessed 30 Sept 2007.]
One of the health freedom movement's key objectives is for people to have unrestricted access to vitamins and other food supplements. Campaigners belive that many chronic diseases can be largely prevented or even cured using micronutrients and that the optimal level for ingestion of these is significantly above the RDA levels. The belief that high levels of antioxidants and vitamins confer increased longevity [ [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=10889454&ordinalpos=9&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum Mecocci P, Polidori MC, Troiano L, Cherubini A, Cecchetti R, Pini G, Straatman M, Monti D, Stahl W, Sies H, Franceschi C, Senin U. Plasma antioxidants and longevity: a study on healthy centenarians. Free Radic Biol Med. 2000 Apr 15;28(8):1243-8.] Accessed 28 September 2007] [ [http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20070910/vitamin_d_070910/20070910?hub=CTVNewsAt11 Vitamin D increases life expectancy, study finds. CTV, Canada] Published 10 September 2007. Accessed 28 September 2007] is shared with the
Life-extensionmovement, with which the health freedom movement has close links.
The belief that supplements and vitamins can demonstrably improve health or longevitiy is not backed by
evidence-based medicine, nor is it widely accepted in the medical community, because there is felt to be insufficient evidence to support such claims. [ [http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/uspstf/uspsvita.htm Counseling for Vitamin Supplementation to Prevent Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease] [verification needed] , from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Released June 2003; accessed September 28 2007.] Indeed, large doses of some vitamins can lead to vitamin poisoning(hypervitaminosis).
Political roots and support base
Health freedom activists come from a variety of political backgrounds. The right-wing libertarian
Ludwig von Mises Institutedemands deregulation of the medical profession and health care sector. [ [http://www.mises.org/story/1749 How Medical Boards Nationalized Health Care - Henry Jones - Mises Institute ] ] The British activist Martin J. Walkeris politically left-wing, whilst the Republican congressman and failed 2008 U.S. presidential candidate Ron Paul, who supports health freedom [ [http://www.bostonherald.com/news/national/politics/2008/bios/view.bg?articleid=1063101 Ron Paul candidate platform, The Boston Herald] Published 27 December 2007. Accessed 5 December 2008.] , calls himself a free market libertarian. A leading supporter of the movement [ [http://www.ronpaul2008.com/issues/health-freedom "Ron Paul 2008 Hope for America"] Accessed 28 September 2007.] , Paul introduced the Health Freedom Protection Act in the U.S. Congress in 2005. [ [http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=33525 Health Freedom Protection Act Introduced in US Congress ] ] [ [http://www.house.gov/paul/congrec/congrec2005/cr111005.htm Free Speech and Dietary Supplements ] ] Other examples of people with polar opposite political views whose healthcare ideology at times appears to bear some comparison to that of the health freedom movement are Prince Charles, who has defended alternative therapies in an address to the World Health Assembly, [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/05/23/ucharles.xml "Charles defends holistic medicine", The Daily Telegraph.] Published 24 May 2006. Accessed 12 April 2005.] and Cherie Blair(the wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair) who is believed to have influenced her husband's reported opposition to the EU Food Supplements Directive. [ [http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/health_medical/article295756.ece "Blair opposes EU's directive to outlaw up to 5,000 vitamins", The Independent.] Published 30 June 2005. Accessed 12 April 2005.] The British right wing Conservative Party (UK)has supported the Save Our Supplements campaign as part of its campaign against the EU Food Supplements Directive [ [http://www.conservatives.com/vitamins/ Vitamins & Minerals Under Threat ] ] , whilst the Green Party in Ireland has expressed concern that changes to this Directive will limit consumers' access to off-the-shelf vitamins and mineral supplements. [ [http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/ireland/2008/0613/1213305635251.html 'Greens claim EU directive may limit access to vitamins' The Irish Times] Published 13 June 2008. Accessed 14 June 2008.] The Swedish conservative Moderate Partyis also opposed to the EU imposed vitamin restrictions. [European Parlament, voting record 2002, Food Supplement Directive] Prominent celebrity supporters of the movement include the musician Sir Paul McCartney, who says that people "have a right to buy legitimate health food supplements" and that "this right is now clearly under threat," [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2002/09/13/dp1301.xml "Health food fans plan to copy alliance march", Daily Telegraph] Published 13 Sept 2002. Accessed 28 September 2007.] and the pop star/actress Billie Piper, who joined a march in London in 2003 to protest planned EU legislation to ban high dosage vitamin supplements. [ [http://www2.newsquest.co.uk/wiltshire/leisure/billie/170603.html "Billie makes a stand", This is Wiltshire] Published June 2003. Accessed 28 September 2007.]
The term "Health freedom movement" has been used in the United States since the 1990s. [”Gallegly Is Key Foe of FDA's Vitamin Rules - Simi Valley: The GOP congressman has emerged as leader of effort to minimize new labeling requirements” Los Angeles Times, 2 Jan 1994] [”Doctor's supporters go to bat for him - Followers of alternative medicine organize to defend physicians they see as under attack” The Orange County Register, 7 Feb 1999] Around 2003 to 2005, a campaign organization founded by the British author
Lynne McTaggartand called the Health Freedom Movement existed in the United Kingdom. [”And then pop go the pills - Today a new law on supplements comes into force which has split the world of natural healthcare” The Herald, 1 Aug 2005]
The enactment into law of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (
DSHEA) [ [http://www.fda.gov/opacom/laws/dshea.html Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 ] ] in the United States (US) in 1994 is an example of a piece of pro-health-freedom legislation. DSHEA defines supplements as foods, and puts the onus on the United States Food and Drug Administration(FDA) to prove that a supplement poses significant or unreasonable risk of harm rather than on the manufacturer to prove the supplement’s safety. The act was passed by Congress after extensive lobbying by the manufacturers of dietary supplements, [ [http://www.consumerreports.org/mg/free-highlights/manage-your-health/supplements_questions.htm?AFFID=HNARSIC5 Nutritional Supplements: Your Questions Answered] . From " Consumer Reports" magazine, published 14 June 2006. Accessed 2 Feb 2007.] [ [http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,589533,00.html "Beyond Ephedra", by Leon Jaroff] . Published in "Time" magazine 10 Feb 2004. Accessed 2 Feb 2007.] and received strong support from non-medically-oriented politicians such as Senator Tom Harkinand Senator Orrin Hatch, whose state of Utah is a hub for herbal manufacturers. The act allows natural supplements to be marketed without any proof of their purity, safety or efficacy. Producers of these supplements are largely exempt from regulation by the Food and Drug Administration, which can take action against them only if they make medical claims about their products or if consumers of the products become seriously ill.cite book |author=Dan Hurley |title=Natural causes: death, lies, and politics in America's vitamin and herbal supplement industry |publisher=Broadway Books |location=New York |year=2006 |pages= |isbn=0-7679-2042-2 |oclc= |doi=]
Following concerns about numerous raids, ["FDA Raids", Life Extension Magazine. Published 15 November 1994. Accessed 12 April 2005.] censorship issues, [Jeff Elliot. [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1282/is_n22_v46/ai_15999889 Taking vitamins] : the FDA's raids on promoters of dietary supplements seem designed to keep consumers in the dark - Food and Drug Administration.National Review. Nov 21, 1994.] pharmaceutical conflicts of interest, [ [http://www.lef.org/fda/fda-lem-jan96.htm Janurary 1996 Report: The Threat To Melatonin.] Life Extension Foundation. January 1996. "reflects several years ongoing concerns with melatonin and l-tryptophan"] product bans, [Manders DW. [http://www.qhi.co.uk/features/feat_002.asp The FDA Ban of L-Tryptophan: Politics, Profits and Prozac.] "Social Policy", Vol. 26, No. 2 Winter 1995.] and more proposed FDA restrictions, what became the DSHEA in 1994 was the subject of the largest grassroots letter writing campaign to Congress. However, the current level of popular support for the deregulation of the supplement industry can at times seem unclear. A large survey by the
AARP, for example, found that 77% of respondents (including both users and non-users of supplements) believed that the federal government should review the safety of dietary supplements and approve them before they can be marketed to consumers. [ [http://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/consume/dd66_diet.pdf Dietary Supplements and Older Consumers] . From the AARP website. Published December 2001. Accessed 2 Feb 2007.]
Similar confusion about the implications of DSHEA was noted in an October 2002 nationwide Harris poll. Here, 59% of respondents believed that supplements had to be approved by a government agency before they could be marketed; 68% believed that supplements had to list potential side effects on their labels; and 55% believed that supplement labels could not make claims of safety without scientific evidence. All of these beliefs are incorrect as a result of provisions of the DSHEA. [ [http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/health-fitness/drugs-supplements/dangerous-supplements-504/overview/index.htm "Dangerous Supplements: Still at Large] , from "
Consumer Reports" magazine. Published May 2004, accessed 7 Feb 2007.]
Nevertheless, in recognition of the support for DSHEA, President
Bill Clinton, on signing it into law, stated that "After several years of intense efforts, manufacturers, experts in nutrition, and legislators, acting in a conscientious alliance with consumers at the grassroots level, have moved successfully to bring common sense to the treatment of dietary supplements under regulation and law." He also noted that the passage of DSHEA "speaks to the diligence with which an unofficial army of nutritionally conscious people worked democratically to change the laws in an area deeply important to them" and that "In an era of greater consciousness among people about the impact of what they eat on how they live, indeed, how long they live, it is appropriate that we have finally reformed the way Government treats consumers and these supplements in a way that encourages good health." [ [http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=49370 The American Presidency Project, University of California, Santa Barbara. William J. Clinton: Statement on Signing the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994; October 25th, 1994] . From the website of The American Presidency Project, University of California, Santa Barbara. Accessed 9 Feb 2007.]
Another example of the passing of pro-health freedom legislation occurred in March 2007, when Governor
Timothy M. Kainesigned a bill into law in the U.S. State of Virginia allowing teenagers 14 or older and their parents the right to refuse medical treatments for ailments such as cancer, and to seek alternative treatments so long as they have considered all other medical options. Kaine described the bill as being "significant for health freedom in Virginia." [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/21/AR2007032101938.html "Kaine Signs Tax Cut for Poor, Medical Rights for Sick Teens". Washington Post] . Published 27 March 2007. Accessed 16 April 2007.]
In addition, some U.S. states have proven willing to allow nonlicensed practitioners to diagnose and treat patients, and forms of nonlicensed practice have been approved in California, Rhode Island, Idaho, Louisiana and Oklahoma. As a result, between 2000 and 2006, 15 percent of the U.S. population gained some access to nonlicensed practitioners. [ [http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/act.2006.12.136 "Legal Matters: The Ins and Outs, Pros and Cons of Nonlicensed Practice: Report and Commentary on the Health Freedom Movement", Alan Dumoff, J.D., M.S.W.. Alternative & Complementary Therapies, Jun 2006, Vol. 12, No. 3 : 136 -142] . Published June 2006. Accessed 29 April 2007.]
So far as supplements are concerned, the legislative trend in Europe in recent years has been towards increased regulation. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/2499259.stm "Euro MPs back herbal crackdown"] . BBC News. Published 22 Nov 2002. Accessed 29 Sept 2007.] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/1870751.stm "Vitamin crackdown gets go-ahead"] . BBC News. Published 13 March 2002. Accessed 29 Sept 2007.] As such, health freedom movement writers and campaigners in Europe fear that
European Union(EU) laws such as the Food Supplements Directive, [http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/pri/en/oj/dat/2002/l_183/l_18320020712en00510057.pdf] the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive, [ [http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/site/en/oj/2004/l_136/l_13620040430en00850090.pdf Directive 2004/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 March 2004] ] and the Human Medicinal Products (Pharmaceuticals) Directive, [ [http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/site/en/oj/2004/l_136/l_13620040430en00340057.pdf Directive 2004/27/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 March 2004 amending Directive 2001/83/EC on the Community code relating to medicinal products for human use] ] will ultimately reduce access to food supplements and herbal medicines without evidence of comprehensive safety testing or historical practice. [ [http://observer.guardian.co.uk/magazine/story/0,11913,1157031,00.html 'Nil by mouth', by Rose Shepherd. The Observer.] Published 29 Feb 2004. Accessed 16 April 2007.] European health food producers, retailers and consumers have been vocal in protesting against this legislation, with the health freedom movement inviting supporters to "Stop Brussels from killing natural medicine". [ [http://search.ft.com/iab?queryText=%22health%20freedom%22&y=0&aje=true&x=0&id=040223001210&location=http%3A%2F%2Fsearch.ft.com%2FftArticle%3FqueryText%3D%2522health+freedom%2522%26y%3D0%26aje%3Dtrue%26x%3D0%26id%3D040223001210&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fsearch.ft.com%2Fsearch%3FqueryText%3D%22health+freedom%22 'Vitamin rules jar with the herbal industry.' Financial Times.] Published 23 Feb 2004. Accessed 18 April 2007.] On the day that Members of the European Parliament voted for a clampdown on vitamin sales, the parliament's computer system crashed under the strain of thousands of speed-dial emails, wildly claiming that the new directive would ban 300 popular supplements and drive British health stores out of business. In Strasbourg, meanwhile, Euro-MPs were accosted by activists handing out a propaganda video accusing five European commissioners of corruptly colluding with big pharmaceutical firms in an attempt to destroy the alternative network of homoeopathic and natural medicines. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2002/03/14/wvit14.xml 'Euro-MPs vote for clampdown on vitamin sales'] The Daily Telegraph. Published 14 March 2002. Accessed 18 October 2007.] No evidence to support this accusation has been produced. Fact|date=December 2007
In 2004, the
Alliance for Natural Health(ANH) and two British trade associations had a legal challenge to the Food Supplements Directive referred to the European Court of Justiceby the High Court in London. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3445503.stm 'Court victory for vitamin firms' BBC News] Published 30 January 2004. Accessed 29 April 2007.] Although the European Court of Justice's Advocate General subsequently said that the EU's plan to tighten rules on the sale of vitaminsand food supplementsshould be scrapped, [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4411929.stm 'EU health foods crackdown 'wrong" BBC News.] Published 5 April 2005. Accessed 29 April 2007.] he was eventually overruled by the European Court, which decided that the measures in question were necessary and appropriate for the purpose of protecting public health. ANH, however, interpreted the ban as applying only to synthetically produced supplements - and not to vitamins and minerals normally found in or consumed as part of the diet. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4670971.stm 'Vitamin controls backed by Europe' BBC News.] Published 12 July 2005. Accessed 29 April 2007.] Nevertheless, the European judges did acknowledge the Advocate General's concerns, stating that there must be clear procedures to allow substances to be added to the permitted list based on scientific evidence. They also said that any refusal to add a product to the list must be open to challenge in the courts. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1526892,00.html 'EU court backs health supplements ban' The Guardian] Published 12 July 2005. Accessed 30 September 2007.] However, some media observers believe that, as a result of this legislation, a black market will inevitably emerge, and that controls over ingredients and quality will vanish. [ [http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/health_medical/article181686.ece 'Should we swallow it?' The Independent.] Published 26 June 2002. Accessed 22 April 2007.]
New Zealand, health freedom campaigners have been concerned that many supplements would be removed from the shelves under the Therapeutic Products and Medicines Bill that was introduced to the NZ Parliament in 2006 by Food Safety Minister Annette King. If passed, the Bill would have created a joint agency with Australia to regulate therapeutic products. In July 2007, however, King announced that the Bill would be postponed until there was more support in the New Zealand parliament for the scheme. [ [http://www.theage.com.au/news/World/Joint-therapeutic-agency-plans-shelved/2007/07/16/1184559674093.html "Joint therapeutic agency plans shelved." The Age] . Published 16 July 2007. Accessed 29 July 2007.] She subsequently passed responsibility for the issue to New Zealand Health Minister Pete Hodgson, who said that "the status quo of an unregulated market for medical devices and complementary medicines cannot remain". It is understood that officials are now planning to look at using ministerial powers to create domestic regulations to apply to such products sold in New Zealand. [ [http://www.nzherald.co.nz/category/story.cfm?c_id=49&objectid=10451961 "Government defeat on medicines spurs 'lame-duck' jibes." New Zealand Herald] . Published 17 July 2007. Accessed 29 July 2007.]
More recently, in response to thousands of dollars worth of stock being confiscated by the regulatory body MedSafe, natural health practices in New Zealand have banded together under the Health Freedom banner to protest against what they claim is a Medsafe "witch hunt", arguing that the crackdown is a response to the stalling of the Therapeutic Products and Medicines Bill. [ [http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/sundaystartimes/auckland/4473760a6016.html "Natural health products confiscated." North Shore Times.] . Published
April 12, 2007. Accessed April 28, 2007.] Subsequently, a petition was presented to New Zealand MPs calling for Medsafe to stop harassing natural health manufacturers and practitioners. The health freedom campaigners who organised the petition say that 7000 signatures were gathered over a three-week period. [ [http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/latest/200805291302/9bd692b "Witch hunt" by Medsafe claimed by petitioners] . Radio New Zealand News. Published May 29, 2008. Accessed May 30, 2008.]
Following the Australian Federal Government's decision to pay a record $A50 million (NZ$62.3 million) compensation to Jim Selim, the founder of complementary medicine manufacturer, Pan Pharmaceuticals, as a result of the Australian Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) recalling all of Pan's products in 2003, Health Freedom spokeswoman Nicola Grace said that a class action suit against the TGA involving some 100 businesses that closed because of the recall was likely to ensue and that "the ticket may just include Minister Annette King". [ [http://www.odt.co.nz/news/business/19630/successful-lawsuit-doesn039t-affect-nz-says-dalziel Successful lawsuit doesn't affect NZ, says Dalziel] . Otago Daily Times, New Zealand. Published
August 27, 2008. Accessed September 20, 2008.]
Criticism of the pharmaceutical industry
Health freedom-orientated writers and campaigners tend to see restrictive legislation on supplements as being designed to protect the interests of the pharmaceutical industry. If herbal medicines and supplements are removed from sale, they argue, patients will have no alternative but to use conventional pharmaceutical medicines. [ [http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2008-09-10-doctors-drugmakers_N.htm?csp=34 Medical schools, journals start to fight drug industry influence] USA today] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/2499259.stm "Euro MPs back herbal crackdown"] . BBC News, quoted from statement of Dr Rob Verkerk, Executive Director of the Alliance for Natural Health. Published 22 Nov 2002. Accessed 29 Sept 2007.]
Matthias Rathgoes even further than this, however, and believes that the pharmaceutical industry has a vested interest in the continuation and expansion of diseases, rather than their cure, in that without the current widespread existence of diseases the industry would cease to exist in its current form. [ [http://www4.dr-rath-foundation.org/open_letters/open_letter_2005_01_23.htm The Dr. Rath Health Foundation | Responsibility for a healthy world ] ]
In addition to criticising the pharmaceutical industry, the health freedom movement is also critical of the actions of individual pharmaceutical companies. As reported in the
British Medical Journal, for example, health freedom organisations have condemned Merck & Co.’s marketing methods, claiming the company hopes to use profits from Gardasilto fund the litigation costs it has had to pay over rofecoxib( Vioxx). [ [http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/short/334/7596/721?flh 'Life saving treatment or giant experiment?' by Rebecca Coombes] British Medical Journal. Published April 7 2007. Accessed 2 May 2007.] Health freedom-orientated campaigners in the UK, meanwhile, have publicly criticised Boots, Britain's largest chemist, for "watering down" its vitamin and mineral supplements to ensure that its products complied with the European Union's Food Supplements Directive. [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/main.jhtml?xml=/health/2005/02/10/nboots05.xml 'Consumers attack Boots over lower doses in its supplements'] Daily Telegraph. Published February 10 2007. Accessed 18 October 2007.]
Criticism of the Codex Alimentarius Commission
A key focus of the health-freedom movement in recent years has been the activities of the
Codex AlimentariusCommission, [ [http://www.codexalimentarius.net/ Codex Alimentarius ] ] which it perceives to be acting in the interests of the pharmaceutical industry. However, the Codex Ailmentarius is a voluntary reference standard that has no power to enforce regulatory action in any member country.Fact|date=September 2008
The Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements [http://www.codexalimentarius.net/download/standards/10206/cxg_055e.pdf] were adopted by the
Codex Alimentarius Commissionas a voluntary standard at its meeting in Rome in July 2005. The scope of the guidelines includes requirements for the packaging and labelling of vitamin and mineral supplements. The text also specifies that "supplements should contain vitamins/provitamins and minerals whose nutritional value for human beings has been proven by scientific data and whose status as vitamins and minerals is recognised by FAO and WHO." In addition, it states that the "sources of vitamins and minerals may be either natural or synthetic" and that "their selection should be based on considerations such as safety and bioavailability." The National Health Federation, by virtue of its official observer status at Codex, was the only delegation present at the meeting to oppose the adoption. [ [ftp://ftp.fao.org/codex/alinorm05/al28_41e.pdf Codex Alimentarius Commission. Report of the Twenty-Eighth Session. FAO Headquarters, Italy, 4 - 9 July, 2005] Accessed April 26, 2008.] Drafted using the EU Food Supplements Directive as a blueprint, health-freedom orientated protagonists argue that the eventual effect of these Guidelines will be to remove large numbers of what they regard as the most effective forms of nutrients from the global market, set restrictive upper limits on the dosages of all permitted nutrients, and prevent the sale of all supplements for curative, preventative or therapeutic purposes without a doctor’s prescription. [ [http://www4.dr-rath-foundation.org/features/codex_wto.html The Dr. Rath Health Foundation | Responsibility for a healthy world ] ]
For its part, the Commission asserts that products listed on the Codex have been accepted by the signatories as proven to be safe and thus there is no case for any member state of the WTO to deny importation on safety grounds. [ [http://ec.europa.eu/food/international/organisations/position_paper_en.htm European Commission Position Papers for Codex Alimentarius] "The World Trade Organisation Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures considers that WTO members applying the Codex Alimentarius standards meet their obligations under this [free trade] Agreement."] Conversely, member states may refuse entry to products that have not achieved a listing on the Codex, without breaking their free trade agreemnents made under the
World Trade Organisation Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures.
Criticism of regional trade blocs
A number of health-freedom organizations and their political supporters believe that the increasing tendency for countries to form large, so-called free trade areas and trade blocs threatens their freedom of choice in healthcare, on the grounds that they believe these further increase the pressure upon countries to harmonize their food and supplement laws to the voluntary reference standard set by Codex. Campaigners argue that such trade agreements are about business and money and are put before the welfare of countries. [ [http://www.register-pajaronian.com/V2_news_articles.php?heading=0&page=&story_id=4748 'Is cure for apple moth worse than the disease?' The Register Pajaronian.] Published
19 June, 2008. Accessed 21 June, 2008.] Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul has said that the Central American Free Trade Agreement"increases the possibility that Codex regulations will be imposed on the American public." [ [http://www.ocregister.com/ocr/sections/commentary/commentary_columns/article_633262.php 'The vitamin police', by ALAN BOCK, Sr. editorial writer, The Orange County Register.] Published 14 August 2005. Accessed 29 April 2007.] This assertion is despite the fact that the Codex only applies to the right to refuse imports: nations are at liberty to make local decisions on products entirely within their own territories.Fact|date=June 2008
Campaigners, organizations, and newsfeeds
The core of the health freedom movement consists of a loose coalition of activists, campaigners, bloggers, and newsfeeds. Some of these are mentioned in the section below.
;USA and the Americas
The American Association for Health Freedom (AAHF) was founded in 1992 and is affiliated with the European organization, Alliance for Natural Health. AAHF describes themselves as the politically active voice at the federal and state level for the right of the consumer to choose and the practitioner to practice.
The American Holistic Health Association (AHHA) was founded in 1989. It describes its mission as being to promote holistic principles where mind, body, and spirit are working together and individuals actively participate in their own health and healthcare. AHHA sees its role as educational and, as a result, it does not run campaigns by itself.
The Institute for Health Freedom (IHF) was founded in 1996 as a Washington based think-tank with a leaning towards free market liberalism. The focus of IHF is more directed towards conventional medicine than the other health freedom organizations. Some of the issues IHF are working with are: patient rights and increased choice in Medicare/Medicaid.
Life Extension Foundationwas founded in 1980. The original goal of the LEF was to find methods to extend the human life-span. Over time, LEF has developed an extensive business selling discounted supplements to their paying members. During this process, it has been involved in a number of legal battles with the FDA. Today, LEF is vocal in the health freedom movement and has initiated a number of campaigns over the years. It has an extensive campaign editorial in each issue of its monthly member magazine, "Life Extension Magazine".
The National Health Freedom Coalition was founded in 2002 and has organized an annual Health Freedom Conference since 2004.
National Health Federationwas established in 1955 and has observer status as a Non-governmental organization(NGO) at the official Codex Alimentarius meetings.
Alliance for Natural Health(ANH) is a UK based pan-European campaign organization that was founded in 2003 to launch a legal challenge against the EU Food Supplements Directive.
The Dr. Rath Health Foundation is founded by the German doctor,
Matthias Rath. The foundation is financed by the profits from a supplement manufacturer owned by Dr Rath.
The Campaign for Truth in Medicine is a consumer advocacy group based in the United Kingdom.
;Rest of the World
The Alliance for Health Freedom Australia (AHFA) is an Australian non-profit campaign organization.
An integral part of the health freedom movement consists of a number of individual campaigners, newsfeeds, and opinion makers.
Some of the more notable ones are: the US based
Gary Null, Dr Joseph Mercola, the British Martin J. Walker, Eve Hillary, and the newsfeeds News Target based in the US, and the UK based Zeus Information Service
Examples of US based talk radio stations are HealthRadioNetwork.com, The Deborah Ray Show, and Joyce Riley's talk radio show
The Power Hour.
Health freedom films
The film medium has been used to convey the message of the health freedom movement to a broader audience. The most notable are mentioned below. The two documentaries We Become Silent and Prescription For Disaster are produced by core activists in the movement while the other films convey a message that is similar to the positions held by the movement but produced by people that don’t identify themselves with the health freedom movement.
* We Become Silent A film by Kevin P. Miller
* Prescription For Disaster A film by
Gary Null, winner of: Best Documentary Feature, at the Red Bank International Film Festival 2006
*Money Talks: Profits before Patient Safety from 2006. A documentary made by the same team that made the feature fim Side Effects.
Side Effects (film)from 2005, directed by Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau. A satire about a woman making a career in the US pharmaceutial industry.
Adverse effect (medicine)
List of withdrawn drugs
Peter Rost (doctor)
Preventable medical errors
Sham peer review
Traditional Chinese Medicine
* [http://www.laleva.org/eng/2005/08/martin_walker_a_bibliographic_history_of_the_health_freedom_movement.html A Bibliographic History of the Health Freedom Movement] by
Martin J. Walker.
* [http://www.fda.gov/opacom/laws/dshea.html United States Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994]
* [http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/pri/en/oj/dat/2002/l_183/l_18320020712en00510057.pdf European Union Food Supplements Directive, 2002]
* [http://www.codexalimentarius.net/download/standards/10206/cxg_055e.pdf Codex Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements, 2005]
* [http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/hfreedom.html "Health Freedom"] , from
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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