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The Great Vitamin Scam: How Orrin Hatch Hijacked Your Health

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Buying the right politician can do more for a brand than any amount of marketing.

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One might imagine the tentacles of the Functional Food/Nutritional Supplement/Orrin Hatch vampire squid couldn't possibly reach any further.

But they do.

Remember Loren Israelson's United Natural Products Alliance?

Well, the Alliance hires lobbyists, too.

One of the lobbying firms is called Knight Capitol Consultants, and is run by a woman named Patricia Knight.

Ms. Knight also happens to be on the board of the UNPA, as a Senior Political Advisor. Here's her bio, as seen on the UNPA website:

Patricia Knight left three decades of government service in 2007 to found a small Washington, D.C.-based consulting business providing strategic advice on a range of health-care issues, with an emphasis on those that are FDA-related. Trisha has had a long association with health care policy and legislation, particularly that involving dietary supplements. She served as Health Policy Director and later Chief of Staff to Senator Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT) for 15 years. In that position, she was responsible for directing all aspects of the Senator's office, including policy, legislative development, staffing and administration.


The UNPA retains a second lobbying outfit, called Reinecke Strategic Solutions, Inc., which is run by a fellow named Peter Reinecke.

He also happens to be a UNPA board member, as a Senior Political Advisor, as well. Reinecke's bio, as seen on the UNPA website, reads as follows:

Peter Reinecke, principal of Reinecke Strategic Solutions, Inc., serves as Senior Advisor to UNPA. For 25 years, Peter has been a leader in health and nutrition policy having spent over 20 years working for the U.S. Congress. As staff to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and as Legislative Director and Chief of Staff to Senator Tom Harkin, he helped write many key pieces of health legislation, including the establishment of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at NIH and the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA).


Cozy, huh?

In any case, whether or not you choose to believe POM Wonderful's disputed claims, there is one fact that no one is arguing.

Pomegranates do contain large amounts of antioxidants -- which could interfere with certain drugs, like Crestor (AZN) and Lipitor (PFE).

Furthermore, overloading the system with antioxidants may actually have a negative effect on the body -- the free-radicals they attack spur the body to activate growth factors that, in turn, increase levels of ''important enzymes associated with cell defense'' and ''adaptation to exercise,'' according to researchers. As it turns out, ''the practice of taking antioxidants'' to prevent free-radical damage ''may have to be re-evaluated.''

So, the entire equation may have collapsed right there. Suffice it to say, you won't find that information on the side of your POM bottle, and you can thank Senator Orrin Hatch, Utah, for that.

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