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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Why All the Hate for Celiac Disease Drug Treatments?


    Caption: Big pharma, and celiac drug treatments get a red light from many readers. Photo: CC--Kenny Louie

    Celiac.com 09/18/2015 - That old saw about death and taxes might need a bit of amending to include complaints about pharmaceutical companies working on celiac drug treatments.

    One interesting facet of our coverage of the development of various drugs to treat and/or cure celiac disease has been the regular presence of comments questioning the motives,and actions of the companies involved.

    It's funny, but no one complains that companies still make money selling aspirin, and that no one has cured a headache, and that there must be some conspiracy to profit off of those who suffer a headache.

    There's no doubt that there's money to be made producing drugs that treat disease. But, if a company can develop and produce a safe drug to protect celiacs against contamination, or to help reduce symptoms, what's wrong with that?

    Just like an aspirin, I can take it or not take it.

    In the old days, ten years ago or more, people with celiac disease generally suffered in silence, with scant gluten-free food choices, and little information. However, in just a decade, we've got a wealth of information, and multi-billion dollar gluten-free foods market and a number of companies developing drugs to treat or cure celiac disease.

    To me, that's a good thing. Still, there are naysayers. Here's a rundown of comments by readers who seem less than enthused about celiac drugs in development.

    Our recent article, An Update on Every Celiac Disease Drug Currently in Development included the comment:

    "Article's fine. Concept's disturbing. Eating a gluten-free diet is the free, already-proven cure for celiac and gluten-intolerance. They don't have to torture mice and likely other animals to find a 'cure' for something that there already is a cure for. I imagine there is $$ for the researchers here and $$ for the animal labs and $$ for the pharmaceuticals."

    Of our article entitled, How Close Are New Celiac Disease Treatments? one reader wrote:

    • "I would be very cautious about taking any of these until it was proven absolutely to have no side effects. There always are some and history has shown some to be deadly."

    Commenting on our article ALV003 Reduces Gluten Damage in Celiac Disease Patients, one reader commented:

    "I only want to know: how long until random internal organs begin to fail or malfunction as a result of yet another new mystery drug? I'd rather starve to death than be a guinea pig for big pharma again."

    Our article on NexVaxx, entitled Is a Vaccine for Celiac Disease Just Around the Corner? included the following comments:

    • "Totally agree with vhill seems like a ploy to poison people with GMO foods that come up with a supposed "'cure'. Eat healthy whole foods this is not a curse its a wake up call to be healthy if you didn't have celiac you'd probably be eating processed crap."
    • Balm wrote: "Thanks but no thanks. I'll remain a celiac and continue to eat healthy. While trying to fix one problem, some will end up with far worse problems."
    • Jonnys wrote: "Stupid idea! Just another way to make more money off of people."

    These are but a few of the largely positive comments we receive, and we hope you enjoyed them as much as we do.


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    My son is one of the "super sensitives" He cannot tolerate even the smallest amount of gluten without getting sick. He follows a very strict gluten free diet and is OK with that. Its the accidental glutening that makes life difficult for him. Unless a restaurant is 100% dedicated gluten free, he won't dine out. (there are not in the city where he lives) He pretty much cooks and prepares everything he eats. But he travels a good amount for work and this is always a problem. He is not looking to take a pill and be able to eat wheat products. All he wants is to be able to go out and maybe once in a while, order off a gluten free menu and not have to worry about cross contamination. If there is a medication that can do that for him, that would be wonderful.

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    Someone else hit the nail on the head exactly. I'm not sick. I don't need a cure. Eating gluten free is a way of life, not something that needs to be fixed. Who wants to "fix" me and why? I strongly suspect they don't want to "fix" me for my own good but for the good of food companies and restaurants who will have justification to stop worry about cross contamination. Why would I risk my body by taking unnatural drugs cooked up a lab? Every so called wonder cure out there has terrible side effects. Why would I risk that when I don't have to?

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    I think some of the strong opinions are due to the distrust of Big Pharm as there are some very dangerous drugs on the market with many unknown side effects, but for me what I love about the Gluten Free "movement" (for lack of a better word) is that it has demanded healthy change in our foods and even more awareness to get back to whole foods. I for one have learned so much from this journey I am on for my daughter about the food we eat. I guess I have some fear that if there was a pill available the doctor would have just put my daughter on it like they have done for her Hashimoto's and we would not have been forced to try a GFD. Being able to treat her celiac thru diet has been empowering, I am grateful she doesn't need to take a drug. That being said I am grateful for all research in the autoimmune area and also look forward to the day that she can have a relatively safe drug available, if needed, when traveling or at a big event when it is not easy to control what she eats.

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    People in general are stupid and naive. They believe crap they read on Facebook and then they spout off like they know what they are talking about.

    Bring on the cure. I'm HAPPY to pay for it. I hate being a celiac and hate having to eat gluten free. I love pizza and I love beer and no not that gluten-free crap. I hate that every time we go out to eat several of us "can't just order"...I really hate it all. I want to eat what I want to eat and not what I have to eat. So please bring on a cure.. if you don't want to take meds or vaccines or whatever they have then fine...let others get it if they want it.

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    Who in the world would complain about a medicine for this disease? I hate HAVING to be gluten-free and I NEVER Cheat. I don't think the gluten-free foods are nearly as tasty, satisfying and it has really hampered my lifestyle. I will jump for joy the day a med is offered to me!!!! Are you kidding me? I am looking for a study I can be in to try a med.

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    People in general are stupid and naive. They believe crap they read on Facebook and then they spout off like they know what they are talking about.

    Bring on the cure. I'm HAPPY to pay for it. I hate being a celiac and hate having to eat gluten free. I love pizza and I love beer and no not that gluten-free crap. I hate that every time we go out to eat several of us "can't just order"...I really hate it all. I want to eat what I want to eat and not what I have to eat. So please bring on a cure.. if you don't want to take meds or vaccines or whatever they have then fine...let others get it if they want it.

    I couldn't agree more. I HATE being gluten-free. I dream about real Pizza, Pasta and cinnamon rolls. ARE YOU KIDDING ME???

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    Why accuse Pharma companies of just trying to make money off celiacs? Yes, a gluten free diet is healthier by far, but look at the prices we have to pay for gluten free products. Why are the prices so high when the ingredients are rice flour and tapioca starch, both very inexpensive!!! Whose trying to make money and gouge people???

    NO JOKE so expensive. I pray daily for meds for this disease, I HATE having to be gluten-free. Your diet controls your entire life.

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    Why accuse Pharma companies of just trying to make money off celiacs? Yes, a gluten free diet is healthier by far, but look at the prices we have to pay for gluten free products. Why are the prices so high when the ingredients are rice flour and tapioca starch, both very inexpensive!!! Whose trying to make money and gouge people???

    Food can be inexpensive when it can be mass-produced. Ensuring no cross-contamination, creating new recipes that look and taste good while using unusual ingredients, shipping small quantities, and other specialty issues all raise prices. (Some of the gluten-free items we buy come from Australia; quinoa typically comes from the backcountry Andes...) We have a free-market system; if products are being sold at prices that provide excessive profits, there's nothing to prevent another producer from stepping in and selling at better prices. But don't forget that Americans overall spend much less for food than people almost anywhere else in the world, so part of the issue is simply the difference between world-typical prices and the discounts offered by high volume food processing. (Whether the latter is healthy for anyone, celiac or not, is a separate issue.)

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    I bought a bottle of Gliadin X a few months ago.  I do not know that it is wonderful or is not wonderful, what I do know is that if I have to eat out, I take one.  Even if I am assured that it is G.F.   And, I have not been C.C.ed since doing that.  I don't eat out a lot, but when I do... I protect myself.  Maybe I would have been fine, but in my prior experience probably not.  So, Gliadin X, you do seem to work!!  ;)

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    I am happy to see the interest in developing a cure. As one of the few who have been diagnosed with Type 2 Refractory Celiac Disease, the Gluten free diet does not work. Historically, after diagnosis, there is a 40 to 57% chance of living 5 years with a 50/50 chance of developing EATL. It would be nice to turn off the Celiac gene(s) or to fool the autoimmune system into not attacking its self for no reason. 

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. He previously served as Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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