So it was my first night back in town after 3 months on the road. I'm watching a little TV, trying to shake the weird feeling of being back home for the first time in a long time. It's late, this infomercial comes on for Juvenon, which is apparently the latest and greatest "anti-aging" supplement. Here's a clip of commercial for the stuff:
As you can see, it looks like a regular bullshit ad for a bullshit "all-natural" product that promises the moon and delivers significantly less. But as I'm watching the video, they say that's it's based on research done at UC BERKELEY. Woah, woah, woah - hold the phone! Is the name of our noble university being dragged through the mud to to sell garbage? So I look it up, and apparently is is indeed based on research from our noble institution. According to this official university press release, the big brain is Dr. Bruce Ames, UC Berkeley professor and researcher at Children's Hospital Oakland.
Dr. Bruce Ames is a big-time scientist who's done big-time things in his time at Cal. Dude is legit. With 400+ publications to his name, he's one of the most cited scientists in the world. The research on which this product is based was published in scientific journals, withstood the rigors of peer review, etc. He and other researchers apparently started Juvenon back in '99 to license the patent that the University has on the research. Now, some would say that this is no different than the founding of Genentech, for example. But things that a company like Genentech would license would to through the FDA, etc. etc. It wouldn't have the dreaded "bullshit detector" label that Juvenon has:
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
This makes me feel awfully wary about this stuff. Hell, even Dr. Andrew Weil is selling it !! It's gotta be bulls*** if he's got his hands in it...
What's that? Dr. Weil? Oh, you know, that new age guru guy:
I know, I know, some people go in for his stuff, so maybe it's not fair to lump him in with the crazies, but you get the drift. So clearly, the alarms are going off in my head here. I keep searching the website, and I see another statement I just don't know what to make heads or tails of:
Our product is marketed as a dietary supplement, which means that it can be marketed without obtaining advance approval from the FDA and without being subjected to the pre-market clearance requirements that apply to drugs. Nevertheless, Juvenon® requires rigorous pre-clinical and clinical testing of its products and maintains an active research program.
So it it's got a long history of clinical trials - clearly, since the initial press release regarding the scientific research was from 2002 - but then why not get FDA approval? Why go the "dietary supplement" route? There's just a lot less credibility that way...
So how do you feel about this, CGB? Looking at the company's advisory board, there seem to be some good people behind this... but with no FDA approval, and a cheesy infomercial to boot, how credible can this stuff really be? The Golden Bear in me says to just assume that this is just another feather in our scientific cap... but the skeptic in me looks at the late-night TV clips, the overly glowing testimonials(though that one has a couple of interesting clips from Dr. Ames) and just makes me shake my head.
Is this a blow to our scientific reputation?
In other completely unrelated news, today's my birthday! And SOMEONE got himself a pretty sweet gift - a ticket to go see Lady Gaga tonight!!! Suck it haters!!