Saturday, February 14, 2015

Why People Buy "Stupid Pills" Or Snake Oil

"So, the industry keeps growing, with 65,000 dietary supplements now on the market, consumed by nearly half of all Americans. The larger issue is mistrust of authority, a willful ignorance that knows no political side. Thus, right-wing libertarians promote a freewheeling market of quack products, while left-wing conspiracy theorists disdain modern medicine in favor of anything sold as “natural” or vaguely countercultural. These are some of the same people who will not vaccinate their children.
Everyone wants to live longer, to be happier, to have better sex. And, if you think you can do it without exercise, or eating enough vegetables, or getting regular sleep, there are a thousand pills for you, sold not far from the candy counter. It’s all based on the honor system. If you trust them, go buy some possibly Ginkgo biloba-free Ginkgo biloba, and thank Orrin Hatch for the unfettered right to be a sucker."
This quote, from another critique of the dietary supplement business,  explains why nearly half of our population consumes dietary supplements.  Its hard to imagine a more promising market.  Each of the products claims to provide a highly desirable benefit without having to make much of an effort.  Moreover, the products appeal to all political ideologies.  The state of Utah has become the capital of the dietary supplement business.  Over one third of the products originate in Utah, where the industry is protected by the senior senator from Utah whose son is a lobbyist for the industry.

I scanned some of the over 800 comments on this article.  They were very predictable.  Some were critical of the industry, but many argued that the much larger prescription medicine industry was a more harmful industry (left wing conspiracy types), and right wing libertarians argued that consumers should be left to make their own consumption choices without interference from government.  They are unbothered by the main point of the article.  That is, the products do not contain the ingredients that are put on the product labels.

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