On this episode of the podcast, Terry and Bob discuss the massive nutritional supplement industry and the opportunities and dangers it poses for patients. They note how this market has grown from $25 billion to $45 billion in just several years, buoyed this past year by people taking supplements to try to treat or prevent Covid-19. They point out how nutritional supplements are poorly regulated by the FDA, leaving patients vulnerable to unscientific health claims. Nevertheless, some supplements hold significant potential to help patients with rare and chronic diseases. 

Bob interviews Robert Fried, CEO of ChromaDex, who discusses his company’s work with NAD supplements and their potential to treat rare diseases associated with premature aging. Robert explains how the regulatory environment for supplements predates the internet, and the FDA has no way to police the claims made by manufacturers that often have no scientific basis. He highlights how supplement companies are disincentivized from conducting research because they aren’t allowed to publicize their findings. Rob calls on the FDA to forge a middle path that creates a product registry for supplements that have passed research and safety protocols. 

Patient correspondent Kate Pecora interviews Kayla Smock, President and Founder of the Occipital Neuralgia Foundation, on insurance hurdles facing Occipital Neuralgia patients like her. Kayla tells her story and explains why the condition is so much more than just a headache. Kayla discusses how difficult it is to diagnose Occipital Neuralgia and how the standard treatment for this condition of physical therapy can hurt patients rather than help. With the help of experimental treatments, Kayla is doing better and is back in school.  

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