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Sunday, July 18, 2004

Light 'em Up 

I want someone to explain to me why more than 60% of prescription tablets use lactose as a binder.

My reaction to lactose is worsening. It has actually become rather violent: imagine the worst case of food poisoning you've had. But apparently that's fairly normal as people age. In fact, lactose intolerance is normal. I recently googled "'dairy intolerance' + allergy" after having another distressing and socially unacceptable reaction to a newly prescribed drug. Despite what the formidable, government-subsidized dairy industry would have us believe, lactose tolerance in adults is not typical. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine tells us that the label "lactose intolerance" is now being jettisoned in favor of labeling the lactose-tolerant minority as "lactase persistent".

Indeed, recent studies are showing that 75% of adults in the world do not have lactase, the enzyme necessary to process lactose – and when someone's intestines aren't able to process something, everyone in the room knows it in a very primal sense (eww). Evidently the minority of adults who can process lactose are of Northern European extraction. I would think that, in this melting pot country of mine, that's even fewer than 25% of adults, and rapidly falling.

If upscale vitamin companies are formulating tablets free of dairy, gluten, soy, starch, sodium, and yeast, why aren't pharmaceutical companies, who are charging upwards of 10 times more per tablet?

Let me guess. Could it be that lactose is a cheap binding agent? Harrumph. I would like to take every pharmaceutical executive who has ever approved using lactose and gluten and other cheap binders in their products, and lock them for 24 hours in a small room with a dairy-laden banquet. And then light a match.

After all, odds are, at least one of them will be lactose intolerant too.


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