Earlier this year, the FDA fired off warning letters to seventeen companies that, in the agency’s view, were illegally marketing supplements to treat Alzheimer’s disease. One of the supplements targeted in the FDA’s action was piracetam, a derivative of GABA, continuing an FDA trend of attacking brain health supplements to protect drug industry profits. Piracetam has been on the market as a supplement for years. It is approved as a drug in Europe and prescribed for cognitive impairment and dementia. Researchers think that piracetam helps the brain by boosting energy production in brain cells. As we age, our brain cells decline in their ability to generate energy; this decline in energy causes cellular “debris” to accumulate which can kill brain cells and eventually lead to senility. The FDA has also moved against vinpocetine and picamilon, two other brain health supplements. At the same time, major trials for Alzheimer’s drugs keep failing…and failing. Is the FDA clearing the way for Big Pharma to turn these natural compounds into expensive drugs? Given the agency’s recent history, this seems the most likely explanation.

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