US FDA and the Practice of Asteya Element

By Bal Ram Singh, PhD

It must have been 12 to 15 years ago, when there was a faculty senate meeting of which I was a member for a long time. I heard some presentations about negotiations between faculty and the University administration.

I believe, it was professor Jim Griffith, who also used to be the President of the Faculty Federation, said in a conversation with faculty that in negotiations, there is one very important rule to follow: if the opposite side is saying something, even obvious thing such as today’s Saturday in a negotiation meeting, you must think of the motive behind stating the fact that today is Saturday, and there is something the other side may be gaining, and in that case you have to think and perhaps ask, what do I get in return for accepting that today is Saturday.

Thus life is a negotiation, whether it is biologically, socially, economically, psychologically, or politically. If someone is asking, asserting, or revealing something in today’s world, he or she has something behind it, In a way, hiding the true intentions, or stealing some facts and purpose.

Unfortunately, the system is made in such a way that everyone, willingly or unwillingly, is forced to follow the same system. In other words, blinds are forced to follow the other blinds, and thus the entire world has lost its vision. There are groups of commercial and political people who manage such followings and direct such people to their own advantage, sometimes in the name of being helpful to others. The system has pervaded every aspect of the society, and, in fact, in most areas of one’s life one assumes that the other side is hiding something, leading everyone else to behave in the same way.

As an example of this system, I faced and learned about it some 25 years ago, when I had a large contract from an European company to help them with the chemical analysis of their pharmaceutical product, so that it can be approved by the FDA in the United States for sales. The product was based on proteins and its analysis was fairly routine, and could be performed by almost any lab which has some bio chemistry experience. It didn’t actually need to be analyzed in my laboratory necessarily, and could have been easily analyzed in the company’s own lab. But it was important for them to show impartiality in the analysis, and my laboratory had at least 10 years of experience in carrying out such routine and analytical work. FDA was aware of our contribution in the field, so it would appear to be authentic, competent and impartial analysis, and that was perhaps the major reason for our contract.

An Interesting experience in this project was in dealing with the report I prepared with the experimental data my research group obtained. This was my first such project where we performed experiments for a commercial product to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). When I submitted the report with my scientific interpretation of the results, the sponsoring company rejected it, as apparently my report had too much information. They just wanted to have the questions answered that were sufficient to satisfy the USFDA guidelines.

In other words, not all the scientific data interpretation and explanation was needed, and thus needed to be suppressed (hidden). Not any fault of the company but due to the regulatory agency guidelines this strategy was implemented.

“The USFDA is the government agency responsible for reviewing, approving and regulating medical products, including pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices. It also regulates various other products, including food, cosmetics, veterinary drugs, radiation-emitting products, biological products and tobacco. …. Critics and consumer watchdog groups accuse the FDA of being too influenced by Big Pharma and denounce major deficiencies in the FDA system for ensuring the safety of drugs in the U.S. market. ……As a result, the public’s approval of the FDA has steadily declined. In 2015, only about half of Americans thought the FDA was doing a good job of protecting the public. In 2022, one study in JAMA Network Open found that most Americans want the FDA to be more transparent about drug approvals, clinical trials, drugs that have been discontinued and more.”

One could thus see a systematic process in place by perhaps unintentional design to suppress/steal/hide information by commercial companies in dealing with even in the most respected agencies in the world, and thus violating the Asteya principle of Ashtanga Yoga’s Yama, and consequences are visible the areas of covid pandemic and vaccines.

Balram Singh is a Professor and the President of the Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, Massachusetts, researching Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedic education, and Vedic social and political traditions. He is also an adjunct faculty at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi.

Images courtesy of True North Wellness and Provided

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