Its Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature

Originally published

The Tigard Times

February 1996

Warning! Eating potato chips prepared with olestra may cause rectal leakage. “Rectal leakage?” Does that mean what I think it means? Procter and Gamble is reported to have spent $200 million to create olestra, but Dr. Sheldon Margen, public health professor at University of California Berkeley says to stay away from it.

The physical properties of olestra are the same as mineral oil, a well known laxative. In one study reported by Dr. Margen some of the human test subjects developed diarrhea and cramps after eating only three ounces of potato chips made with the stuff. The last bag of potato chips I bought contained 14 ounces. That amount of chips ought to cause enough rectal leakage for the whole family and could give the term “panty liners” a whole new meaning.

And as if giving you diarrhea wasn't enough of a problem, olestra also depletes your body of vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as beta carotene. Investing and continuing to invest $200 million in a product that steals your vitamins and gives you diarrhea would seem to be corporate lunacy. The idea should have been junked years and millions of dollars ago. Might just as well cook potato chips in motor oil.

Someone at Procter and Gamble must have said in a board meeting, “It's time to recoup our considerable investment. Never mind that olestra traps people in the bathroom. Market it anyway. And have my broker buy stock in whatever company makes panty liners and toilet paper.”

It is not just olestra that wants to fight fat. American Home Products Co wants to market a flab trimmer they call Redux. Popping two Redux pills a day doesn't dissolve your unwanted fat. The proposed drug, known chemically as Dexfenfluramine, is a chemical cousin of Prozac the heavily advertised depression drug. Redux raises the level of serotonin in the body and fools the brain into thinking you've already eaten. Do you want to take a pill that fools something as important as your brain? I don't!

Could a drug that fools our brain into thinking we've already had sex be far behind?

What a boon that would be in dealing with unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease. I recently sat in the Tigard Costco pharmacy waiting for my prescription for high blood pressure medicine to be filled. As I waited I watched the cash register ringing away as an elderly woman wrote out a check for $74 for one bottle of pills. The next person in line wrote out a check for $154 for two bottles of pills. Mine was $117 for a 30-day supply. Ouch!

And I thought, as I sat waiting, that senior citizens as well as the rest of us are paying far too much to the drug manufactures for the pills they sell and the prescriptions we must have filled. In fact the whole concept of managed health care seems to be more about managing company profits than managing hour health.

Perhaps it is the high cost of prime time advertising we are paying for, one pill at a time. Yes, drug companies do advertise by prescription-only drugs. “Remember, only Prozac is Prozac,” they tell us. And there's Rogaine with minoxidil for hair loss, and nicotine gum and nicotine skin patches to deal with that other widely advertised addiction, cigarettes. Beseech your doctor, they are in effect telling us. Ask him to prescribe our product so we can make more money.

In a real way too many of us are held hostage by the drug manufacturers and their exorbitant prices if we must have a drug for medical necessity and are then trapped by the high cost to fill and refill. Truly, health care should never be about corporate profit. Profit and the medical care of humanity should never be in the same concept. And now they want to sell olsestra that may give you diarrhea and Redux that fools the brain.

Hey! It's not nice to fool Mother Nature!

By Don DuPay