If you were over at Greg Laden’s blog sometime around June, you might have seen an otherwise innocuous post about the FDA and warning labels on acetaminophen explode into astroturf-central in relatively short order. The people doing the astroturfing had a vested interest, it turns out, in discrediting the FDA: they were working for Swanson Vitamins, and were trying to muddy the waters about the very oversight body that was working to recall one of their cash cows, Zicam. For those of you that don’t know, Zicam is primarily a nasal gel with a lot of zinc, marketed as a “homeopathic” cure for the common cold. There’s some evidence that zinc taken orally might have some effect in shortening colds, but nothing showing that it helps if administered nasally.
Not only is there no evidence that intra-nasal zinc application doesn’t HELP, there’s actually a lot of evidence that it HURTS. And by hurts, I mean it can cause people anosmia — the total inability to smell. Permanently.
The talented Scicurious explains:
You can see here the treatments, and on the left side what they were staining for. In all the cells, they found Adenylyl cyclase 3, beta-tubulin (a protein specific for neurons, and since MOE ARE neurons, you’d look for that), and olfactory market protein. You’re looking for the green stains in all of these. And again, only with Zicam was there a big reduction in detection of these proteins.
This isn’t happy, because this means the cells are just insensitive. It implies that they’re dead.
I hope all those astroturfers feel a terrible pang of guilt that they were arguing for the elimination of the oversight body that generally works against the pharmaceutical companies that bring to market such horrid products. Real people trusted your advice, fuckwits. And real people were, and continue to be, hurt, when you peddle your unscientific “medicine” and fight for looser protections for the public.