Northwest NEWS

June 10, 2002

Local News

Bastyr University receives funds for settlement

Faculty at Bastyr University received significant funding from the Vitamin Antitrust Settlement of October 2000.
   The funds are part of the approximately $6.1 million awarded to the State of Washington as a portion of that multi-state settlement with six companies.
   The work will sample Lactobacillus supplements found on shelves throughout the state of Washington. This supplement is often purchased over the counter or prescribed by physicians to restore the normal flora in the body that is necessary to maintain good health.
   The scientists will examine not only whether the organisms listed on thelabel are actually present and viable in the supplement, but whether there are any harmful bacteria as well.
   Currently there is no regulation of the herbal and dietary supplement industry and as the use of supplements has increased dramatically, so has concern over their quality.
   "This is an important area of public health," said Dr. Berman.
   "The public deserves to be educated. As part of the natural medicine
   community, we're very concerned about this issue and we believe we
   have the best resources to undertake a study of this kind."
   Gowsala Sivam, PhD, a research investigator and faculty member at
   Bastyr, has also received an award from this settlement for
   approximately $128,000. That project is for the "Standardization of
   Nutritional/Herbal Supplements (Nutraceuticals) using HPLC."
   The project will examine the supplements distributed by the Bastyr
   Center for Natural Health, the teaching clinic of Bastyr University.
   Along with HPLC (High Pressure Liquid Chromatograph), a popular
   analytical tool, the study will use a highly sophisticated detection
   system known as a coulometric array detector. This tool is fairly new
   to the research field, as of the mid-1990's, and detects electro
   chemicals.
   "We're excited at the prospect of testing these products with this
   instrument," explained Dr. Sivam. "Right now we do as much research as
   possible before we offer a product, but to be able to conduct this
   sophisticated scientific evaluation is a major step forward in
   assuring the highest quality to the consumer." Dr. Sivam is an organic
   chemist with extensive experience in natural products, chemistry and
   cancer research. She has authored many publications and holds six
   patents in these fields.
   In 1999 several manufacturers of vitamins and vitamin products
   were accused of price fixing, allocating markets and agreeing not to
   compete with each other. The companies agreed to settle the
   allegations with monetary payments to purchasers of affected products
   in each of the settling states. Because of the difficulty in
   determining what individuals should receive the damages, the
   settlement specified that the funds would be distributed to non profit
   organizations or political entities for the benefit of human health or
   nutrition, and/or nutritional or dietary agricultural science.
   Disbursal in Washington was handled through the Attorney General, who
   put out a request for applications on projects that fulfilled the
   requirements.