The first thing to realize about this Nastech product is that it's not really a prescription drug at all, in my view. It's a synthesized version of the naturally-occurring hormone produced by the endocrine system to regulate your appetite. It's almost misclassified as a drug, although the way in which it will be used is certainly drug-like in that it is designed to alter the biochemistry of the human body.
However, because it is a naturally occurring hormone present in your body right now, it is likely to be far safer than typical prescription drugs, which are based on synthetic chemicals foreign to the human body. We have a lot of natural hormones available right now as nutritional supplements including Melatonin, DHEA and even injectable human growth hormone (although some would certainly argue the long-term safety and efficacy of some of these as well).
But I believe that it is inherently safer to put natural hormones into the human body rather than synthetic chemicals. So from the get-go, PYY3-36 has one obvious advantage. It's something that we already have in our bodies. So what's the promise of this prescription drug?
The promise is that by inhaling this protein, your appetite will be reduced. You will automatically eat less. And of course, you will begin to lose weight even without trying. That's how the thinking goes, anyway. It's a very seductive message, but it may in fact be one that holds merit because more often than not, people who are overweight fail to control their appetites.
They find it very difficult to ignore their own body chemistry and ignore the hormones that are telling them to eat. If they had something that could suppress that appetite, it would make it a lot easier to lose weight and keep it off. This is similar to the promise of the herbal-based, appetite control suppressant known as 'Hoodia'. Itís from the Hoodia Gordonii succulent and it is now widely sold as capsules or tinctures for appetite control.
This is the promise of the Nastech PYY3-36 Nasal Spray, and it is potentially a very promising treatment for obesity (and would even help those with diabetes as well). In fact, this could potentially become a huge success as a prescription drug. It could be a blockbuster seller.
But now let's look at some of the problems this product could bring to the forefront if it becomes a huge success. The first problem, as far as I see it, is that the Nastech company has chosen to partner up with Merck as its marketing and distribution partner. This may have seemed like a great choice years ago when this agreement was reached between Nastech and Merck, but that was before the Vioxx scandal, and that was before we saw many critics questioning the ethics and credibility of Merck, myself included.
Now, this is my personal opinion, but I believe that through its actions, Merck has proven itself to be an untrustworthy, unethical company. In fact, I think it belongs on the list of the top five most evil corporations in America, right along with EXXONMOBIL, McDonalds Restaurants and Monsanto.
So partnering up with Merck is probably going to be a detriment to the credibility of this drug in the long term. Why is that? Because we've learned by observing Merck's behavior with Vioxx that the company is capable of suppressing or spinning negative information about its drug studies. And that makes a reasonable person question the credibility of any positive drug studies associated with Merck
In other words, if this Nastech PYY Nasal Spray turns out to have nothing but positive, glowing studies showing tremendous weight loss, a thoughtful, rational person would obviously wonder, "Did Merck suppress the negative studies on this product as well?" That's certainly the question I would have.
So this association with Merck damages the credibility of what could potentially be a very good product. And if Nastech were able to market this through some other company other than Merck, it could actually be to their benefit because now Merck has bad baggage. Distributing your drug through Merck, in my opinion, is like tying an anchor around your ankles and jumping into the river. You now have to swim even harder just to stay afloat because your credibility has been questioned. Then again, that's only my own opinion of Merck, and not everyone agrees with that.
But let's say that Nastech manages to overcome this and Merck manages to reclaim its credibility by reforming internal processes and making a commitment to put safety above profits. So, even if this magical transformation somehow occurs in Merck, what then? What about the PYY3-36 Nasal Spray? Is it a good drug?
Well, that depends on how you use it. And unfortunately, the way it is likely to be used by most Americans is as a replacement for making healthy lifestyle changes. And again, this is unfortunate, and it's no fault of the drug itself. It is a cultural issue and an issue of personal discipline and personal responsibility. A lot of people will say, "This is great! I can just take this drug, inhale it three times a day, and I will automatically lose weight. I don't have to stop eating pizza or ice cream, I don't have to start engaging in physical exercise, and I don't have to start making healthy food choices. I can just continue with my unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle of junk foods and convenience foods, and still manage to lose weight with this Nastech product."
I'm sure the product won't be marketed that way. It will be marketed as an aid to help people who are making healthy lifestyle changes. But nevertheless, this is not the way most people will ultimately think about it, either consciously or unconsciously. People want the easiest pathway to solving their weight problem, and they're going to seek the path of least resistance. And if this drug causes them to lose weight, it may in fact impair a person's ability to learn from their health challenge and ultimately adopt a healthier lifestyle for the long term.
You see, just because a person loses weight doesn't mean they're getting good nutrition. A person could take a drug that causes weight loss and end up being thin but still malnourished. In fact, they are even more likely to be malnourished because they're eating less overall food and they're probably not taking nutritional supplements because they've never learned how to take care of their health.
So thatís the potential danger of a drug like Nastech's PYY Nasal Spray. What is the potential upside? Well, it's very positive. A responsible person who wants to make a lifelong change to their health habits could use this in conjunction with healthy food choice and personal responsibility. Hopefully they'll use it in combination with advice from their physician or naturopath. For those people, this PYY drug could be of tremendous assistance. It could enhance their long-term health by helping them meet body fat goals and improve their overall health standing. That could be a very positive use of the drug.
As with many health-related tools, it can serve either good or evil, depending on how it's used. It also depends on how it's marketed. And that goes back to the ethics of the company doing the marketing, which of course brings us back to Merck. You have to wonder about the over-hyping and exaggerated health claims of drugs like Vioxx, which were marketed as extremely safe anti-inflammatory drugs. We now know those drugs are even more dangerous than the drugs they were designed to replace: the over-the-counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. You have to wonder how a drug like PYY Nasal Spray is going to be positioned and marketed by a company like Merck. That's a legitimate question.
So this Nastech PYY Nasal Spray is something I'll be watching very carefully in the months ahead. If it ultimately earns safety approval by the FDA, it could be a huge seller with unprecedented market impact. It could generate billions of dollars of revenue for both Nastech and Merck, and it could actually help people lose excess body fat, and in doing so, reduce their risk of Type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease and many other disorders.
At the same time, it could also be just another failed magic bullet. It could be a quick-fix promise that fails to deliver, or that prevents people from making the long-term lifestyle changes that would enhance their health overall. I will definitely be watching this one. But unlike most other prescription drugs, this is one "drug" that I think holds the potential for enhanced safety because it's a naturally occurring compound in the human body right now. That doesn't automatically make it safe, but at least it's not something completely foreign to the human body (like most over-the-counter drugs and prescription drugs).