During the present conversation on Health Care Reform legislation, there has been a lot of discussion about death panels. It seems that proponents of the present legislation have claimed that these panels are just scare tactics by those that do not want the legislation to pass. Here is an article from the New York Times discussing this issue. False ‘Death Panel’ has some Familiar Roots. Could it be that the real death panels are those groups that are appointed specifically as ‘non-biased’ for reporting to HHS, NIH, FDA, Department of Defense, and other government sponsoring bodies? The NY Times article claims “There is nothing in any of the legislative proposals that would call for the creation of death panels or any other governmental body that would cut off care for the critically ill as a cost-cutting measure.”
A committee or Food and Nutrition Board was appointed in September, 2008 to discuss and report on Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and Calcium. This committee is an arm of the Institute of Medicine and a sub-division of the National Academy of Sciences. The NAS was formed specifically to keep political views from entering into scientific decisions. From the Project Information for this FNB: “The project is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion), U.S. Department of Agriculture (Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Agricultural Research Service), U.S. Department of Defense (Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center), and Health Canada.”
Dr. John Cannell, Vitamin D Council, was upset at the appointment of the members of this committee because he felt that the committee was biased because there was no one on the committee that been a leader in the ‘Vitamin D Revolution’. That was reported in his January 21, 2009 newsletter. Here is a feel for his upset from that newsletter: “Are these statements the reason the IOM excluded these vitamin D experts? Perhaps the IOM dislikes criticism more than it loves candor? When the new FNB vitamin D recommendations come out next summer, will those recommendations continue to ”offend the most basic principles of pharmacology and toxicology?” If any member of the new board disagrees with the consensus of the board, will that scientist be allowed to produce a minority opinion without risking the loss of research grants in the future? “ I agree somewhat with John’s statements but it is also necessary not to have biased viewpoints on the committee which will make their report stronger evidence of the effects of vitamin D on the human body. This from their Conflicts of Interest Policy: “Finally, it is essential that the work of committees that are used by the institution in the development of reports not be compromised by issues of bias and lack of objectivity.”
They certainly would not want me on the committee having been pulled from the ‘jaws of death’ by vitamin D. I am exceptionally and without shame biased!! Dr. Cannell’s point is that there is no money to be made in the sale of vitamin D because it is one of the least expensive nutritional supplements on the market and it is free from sun exposure. Why not have some of the scientists on the committee that are the closest to the research? After all, these researchers have already demonstrated their character and their lack of bias by risking their careers in objecting to current practices. There are people in this esteemed list of doctors and scientist appointed to the committee that have done research on vitamin D so there is a body of knowledge that is inherent in this committee. So the question – is there any bias on this committee? List of committee members and a brief bio of their work.
When you look at bias you are always concerned about a scientist taking a strong viewpoint that could undermine his objectivity to the decision making process. Also you do not want a scientist that will gain materially from the decision that is being made. This last statement excludes everyone on the board. Not only does everyone on the board stand to not profit from their decision, the decision could reduce funding to their research projects by as much as half of everything they do. When it becomes knowledge that vitamin D is an essential hormone necessary to sustain life the amount of death from illness by chronic disease will be reduced by half and the medical industry including medical research will shrink accordingly.
This Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine on Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and Calcium, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, is by definition a death panel. Through their decisions they stand to significantly impact the centers of commerce and the flow of money throughout the world by improving the health of the world or holding to status quo. Financial Times has already discussed the fact that the reason the vitamin D science has not come forward is because of the money. Read this article: Why Governments are Selling Vitamin D Short – Sam Apple – published October 23, 2009 Financial Times: and my comments from my post ‘A Major Newspaper Gets It”
Dr. Cannell you are absolutely correct about the possibility of bias and so the question is will the members of this committee recuse themselves? Every member of this committee stands to lose. It is now a matter of character if the correct decisions are made. Dr. A. Catherine Ross, Chairman of this FNB, has the lives of millions of people in the world in her hands as well as the weight of the economic future of the world. The decisions of this committee will be the most powerful influence on health and economics that have been made in the history of the world since the death camps and declaration of war during World War II. I do not envy this appointment. My prayers are for you Dr. Ross and the committee.
Life, sometimes, is not easy in the sun. – Pandemic Survivor