A Guns-Drawn Office Raid

Folks, remember Joe McCarthy in the 1950s? Well tyranny is back, only worse.

We are in the midst of an ugly struggle for power by the FDA and those who support giving the FDA more power over the nutritional supplement industry. They are today’s crop of bureaucratic tyrants. Whereas Joe McCarthy’s witch hunt was based on the “communists are lurking about” theory, today’s persecution of innocent people is based on the “nutritional supplements are a menace” theory.

This is not a trivial charge. Let me back it up.

FDA Agents Broke into Dr. Wright’s Office

On May 6, 1992, the offices of Jonathan Wright, M.D., in Kent, Washington, were violently raided by dozens of armed police and FDA agents with guns drawn. The staff was terrorized, and many still have nightmares about it. His office was looted of just about everything, including an unknown number of patients’ charts. To illustrate their attitude toward the public, FDA agent Victor Meo, from Seattle, Washington, gives the finger to a cameraman who was filming this FDA “public service.”

When a physician with no patient complaints of any kind over a 20-year career gets this treatment from his own government, then one of two things is true. Either he is a major threat to society, or there is something very wrong with the government.

Unconstitutional Abuse of Power

In the last decade, there have been at least 25 similar violent raids against physicians and supplement producers or suppliers. This is raw tyranny, and it must be stopped.

The Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution is the central tenet of our free society, implemented to protect people fromtyrannical government. Just like Joe McCarthy’s roundup of innocent people, the FDA’s treatment of Dr. Wright is a violation of seven of the basic freedoms in the Bill of Rights: free speech, free press, protection against seizure of property by the government without compensation, the right to be informed of charges against you, the right to confront your accuser, the right to a speedy trial by jury, and protection against cruel and unusual punishment. And, the ninth amendment guarantees that no other laws (or FDA “rule making”) can transgress the rights protected by these amendments.

The Nutritional Supplement Industry Is Targeted

Of course, supporters of the tyranny believe that all the “vitamin busts” were legal, even necessary “to protect society.” That’s how they justified Joe McCarthy’s reign of terror. That is why our forefathers, fed up with state tyranny, fashioned the Bill of Rights to protect individuals from the perversions of government.

At this moment, however, FDA Commissioner David Kessler and his strongest supporter, Bruce Silverglade of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), are confusing the issues in their testimony to Congress, and even telling your representatives to ignore you if you oppose the FDA’s reign of terror against nutritional supplements. Bruce claims that if you oppose the FDA’s persecution of nutritional supplements you are an ignorant pawn of the “snake oil industry.”

In Bed with the Pharmaceutical Industry

The FDA oppresses the nutritional supplement industry because it favors the pharmaceutical industry. Indeed, its mandate is to approve new synthetic drugs for the treatment of disease. Together, the FDA and drug companies look upon nutritional supplements as “competition.”

A few years ago, the FDA joined forces with the Pharmaceutical Advertising Council (PAC) to form an “anti-quackery” public education campaign: a $200,000,000 program to frighten the public about the “dangers of nutritional supplements.”

In its Dietary Supplement Task Force report, the FDA writes that “the agency should insure that the existence of dietary supplements on the market does not act as a disincentive for drug development.” Consequently, if a nutritional supplement competes with a drug, the FDA removes it from the market, even if the supplement is superior.

Postscript on Dr. Wright

All of us in the alternative medicine community, along with concerned citizens throughout the country, were incensed by the treatment Dr. Wright received at the hands of the FDA. We bombarded the FDA with letters of outrage demanding justice.

No one ever stepped forward to testify against Dr. Wright, and no criminal charges were ever filed against him. Yet it took this respected, law-abiding physician years to get his seized property back, which included more than a hundred thousand dollars worth of computers, medical records, and nutritional products. That Dr. Wright managed to stay in business is nothing short of a miracle.

I believe that our letters and other efforts to spread the word about this and similar transgressions paid off, for there has been a sharp drop in FDA-sanctioned break-ins in recent years.

Modified from Health & Healing, September 1993, with permission from Phillips Health, LLC. © copyright 1993, Phillips Publishing, Inc. Photocopying, reproduction, or quotation strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher. To subscribe to Health & Healing, call (800) 539-8219.