The MD’s Choice Story
MD’s Choice was started before 1995,
but most people don’t know how or why.
On the science side, through the late 80’s and early 90’s a couple gung-ho ‘help save the world’ Christian veterinarian students in their final year, with a strong focus on nutrition got into a series of conversations with a group of peers: Professors, Veterinarians, Nutritionists (human & animal), Chemists, and Medical Doctors (one with a PhD in pharmacology and biochemistry) at some meetings.
They were discussing how they observed so much in medicine was designed to just ‘treat symptoms’… unless surgery was involved, and not really solve the underlying problem most of the time. Especially in human medicine.
They laughed, and joked a bit, about the differences between “MD’s” & “DVM’s” – human doctors, and animal doctors. Despite centuries of higher education, with the best universities in the world – the average human doctor still only has to take just a semester or two of actual NUTRITION. Even then it’s just the fundamental basics (often more ‘diet’ (eating) related, rather than supplementation. While the animal doctors, the veterinarians, have to take at least a year of courses just on the topic of nutrition, which is why so many credentialed nutritionists either have a DVM or strong animal science background, before that MS in nutrition (or CNS if they went on to become a Board Certified Nutritional Specialist, like Doctors Davenport & Martin did).
This group of doctors speculated why so many that didn’t become nutritionists or surgeons were ‘taught’ to help manage pain, or even how to block it, rather than dig deeper for solutions to what the source of the pain really was (aside from inhibiting some nerve sending signals to the brain). “Here’s a steroid shot to block the pain.” Or, “Here’s some Hydro-no more – Oxy Pain drugs… that should help.” kind of bandaid solutions.
One thought was: Time and Numbers.
It often takes longer to actually fix, repair, and rebuild than many people are willing to wait for. After all, we live in a world that made fast food famous. Instant gratification is often deemed more important than quality, because it’s here and now.
Besides, the human patient would need to understand their own effort is important in the healing process, and admit they aren’t immortal (only having one body, one life). They might need to make changes in lifestyle, or at least give things an honest chance to improve and heal, or the likelihood of failure will be much higher. However, unless the ‘issue’ was an injury or ‘from birth’ (genetic), the foundation of health and healing is NUTRITION. Proper nutrition was something few bodies were getting, regardless of diet, income, class, education, job, or even species.
It was doubtful that it’s some type of conspiracy with the big pharma’s… those nasty, greedy, ‘drug manufacturers,’ so many seem to hate these days. Sure, there are exceptions, but the reality was there are some amazing life saving drugs & devices that actually and really help people far more often than not. The fact is, most people wouldn’t be living past about 35, or living with the quality of life they currently have, without modern medicine.
The norm by most human healthcare providers the last twenty five years had become pain killers. “If they can’t feel it, they won’t complain.” And the “Keep feeding them pain killers until there is no other option but surgery, they’ll be happier.” The problem with that logic is it was a predictable failure, creating a nation of patients addicted to pain killers. It opened up a whole other can of those proverbial worms after a year or two on the same ‘miracle drug’ that blocks the symptoms, for a while… until the patient immunity kicks in, and they are required to take more to not feel the pain. Then, when it became harder for those addicted to get the drug they have become used to, many turned to the streets… and harder drugs, illegal drugs. All the while, the foundational reason the problem existed in the first place was never really addressed. Therefore never really solving any problems (just treating the symptoms).
Finally, in 2016, the public was made aware of the over prescription of pain killers and anti-inflammatory drugs, which have led to an epidemic of abuse, addiction, and even worse problems in some geographical areas here in America.
Then, to add fuel to the fires of cost in the world of healthcare, there have been so many class action lawsuits against companies that already spent millions on R&D, then hundreds of millions (some over $1Billion) more just to meet or exceed the FDA hoop jumping, with far too many just to get sued a few years later because of some unknown side-effects. The cost of those prescribed drugs and medical devices had to rise, to cover the potential liability… the possibility of litigation expenses, then there are the very real costs of malpractice and liability insurance. It all adds up, and increases the costs.
Sadly, most of America doesn’t realize that your average OB/GYN that never even had a complaint filed against them has to pay out as much as $10,000 to 25,000+ PER MONTH just for malpractice insurance, per doctor in the practice, BEFORE they see any patients! That is just for malpractice insurance! It’s because these ‘people’ that spent piles of money, and spent 8 to 16 years of massively long hours learning, studying, interning, and passing a variety of tests to get that education and license to practice, are likely to get brought into a law suit at some point in their career, even if they did nothing wrong. Yet people wonder why healthcare costs are so ugly high in this nation?
The group of doctors working on the MD’s Choice project had seen patients of all ages, with issues of immunity to assorted pain killers, and even some with addictions over the years. A large number of those people were actually in worse shape after some other doctor started ‘treating their symptoms’ (rather than their problem). The evidence could be seen on x-rays, ultra-sound, or MRIs. This happened because the underlying problem was never addressed.
The MD’s Choice doctors noted this happened much less in the animal world, because SOLUTIONS WERE OFTEN THE STARTING POINT – not an end point.
Though the concept of self ‘treating’ was starting to happen much more with the growing popularity with the ‘herbal remedies’ being marketed in the 80’s to present. Sadly far too many people are unaware of the dangers of abusing and overusing many of the ‘plant derived drugs’ (aka herbs) really are. See www.herbsaredrugs.com for more information on that topic.
REASONS FOR KNEE REPLACEMENT
Total knee replacement has become a quick and common option to relieve pain and to restore function to an arthritic knee.
The most common reasons is that other treatments (weight loss, exercise/physical therapy, addictive medicines, and even injections) either failed or didn’t work fast enough to relieve knee pain.
Back in the early 90’s, those involved with MD’s Choice predicted a significant increase in joint related problems and surgeries in the human market, which is why Arthrosamine (a premiere joint supplement) was initially developed.
It used to be that only serious injuries, serious debilitating problems, would ‘get’ joint replacements… and then, only if surgery was really warranted, or all other types of rational treatment failed. So, how can a desire to ‘ethically practice medicine and help people’ turn into the quick scripts for pain killers and steroids, the over use of either, abuse of either, or some ‘ingredient of the month’ club? Until surgery or death… it seems. That might be a pessimistic outlook, but look at the numbers. These last few decades it really how many doctors have chosen to treat chronic knee and hip pain, especially in the human market.
In 2010, total knee replacement was the most frequently performed inpatient procedure on adults aged 45 and over. In the 11-year period from 2000 through 2010, an estimated 5.2 million total knee replacements were performed. Adults aged 45 and over comprised 98.1% of those surgeries. This report uses data from the National Hospital Discharge Survey (NHDS) to present trends in the rate of hospitalizations for total knee replacement, mean age at hospitalization, and discharge status for inpatients aged 45 and over from 2000 through 2010.
The numbers in the human market demonstrate the ‘surgery band-wagon,’ according to the NCHS Data Brief No. 210, August 2015 ~ Key findings:
- The rate of total knee replacements increased for both men (86%) and women (99%) aged 45 and over from 2000 through 2010.
- For both 2000 and 2010, women had a higher rate of total knee replacement (33.0 and 65.5 per 10,000 population, respectively) than men (24.3 and 45.3 per 10,000, respectively).
- The mean age of total knee replacement decreased from 2000 through 2010 for both men and women aged 45 and over.
- Higher percentages of men and women aged 45 and over who were hospitalized for total knee replacement were discharged home in 2010 (69.8% and 54.1%) than in 2000 (53.5% and 40.8%).
- In both 2000 and 2010, a lower percentage of women aged 45 and over (40.8% and 54.1%, respectively) were discharged home after total knee replacement than men aged 45 and over (53.5% and 69.8%, respectively).
Following knee surgery, most adults were discharged home, but the percentage was lower for women in both 2000 and 2010 (40.8% and 54.1%, respectively) than for men (53.5% and 69.8%). More women than men were discharged to a long-term care facility compared with the men, the data show.
NCHS Data Brief No. 210. Published online September 2, 2015. Full text
The goal of knee replacement is to relieve pain, improve quality of life, and maintain or improve knee function.
The procedure is performed on people of all ages, with the exception of children, whose bones are still growing. It is important to have significant pain and/or disability prior to considering this procedure, because the replacement parts are likely to break down over time (depending on continued use, abuse, and other health factors). Approximately 700,000 knee replacement procedures are performed annually in the US on human beings. This number is projected to increase to 3.48 million procedures per year by 2030 .
In general, most animal joint surgeries last the rest of the life of the animal… for that joint, and only happen if there is no other viable option.
Most doctors that have any actual product in their clinic stock some type of oral joint supplement. However, if you look closely at the ingredients listed, (if it’s not MD’s Choice’s) odds are it contains glucosamine HCl & chondroitin ingredients, maybe even some herbal remedies. They really need to read the GAIT Study. Few veterinarians that understand herbs are really ‘plant derived drugs’ will actively stock or promote products with herbs, knowing there are some very real issues and side effects.
Despite what store shelves are filled with, and contrary to what some marketers claim, those type of ingredients are NOT using the best types, forms, or options. They weren’t paying attention to the absorption, or the years of science on glucosamine hcl, because it has been repeatedly proven to be inefficient, with at least 50% being wasted. Nearly 60 years of scientific studies prove the vast majority of glucosamine hcl merely passes through the mammal’s body unused. Also, it has been scientifically proven to be completely unstable in liquid form.
Our doctors knew all this back in the 90’s! That was one of the prime reasons they decided to develop some formulas that actually worked the right way, a safe way, without endangering bodies by abusing pain killers, over using blockers, or misusing symptom inhibitors. These are at the foundation that makes MD’s Choice different from all other supplement companies.
Those are things most intelligent, optimistic students and ‘new’ doctors (human or animal), with a fresh outlook and strong learning in the field of NUTRITION, pondered. Many Veterinarians have learned that MD’s Choice’s joint supplements are a valid and effective addition to their treatment process… helping to avoid surgery in many cases, and actually helping speed up healing if surgery is still necessary.
So, what does any good gung-ho, pie in the sky, science type do?
- clearly define the problem
- list potential solutions
- determine why those solutions might and might not work,
- talk to others (gathering information),
- test (research),
- talk (banter),
- test (in a different way, on a different species),
- try (test subjects), and
- research some more.
Watching the statistics, safety, and observable results all along the way.
It really bothered MD’s Choice when they saw celebrities being paid to ‘endorse’ products the majority of them never really used themselves. But hey, “That’s show business” right?
The majority of those celebrities were pushing some product… because some company paid them a pile of money to promote that product, to talk good about it, to say nice things. Golfers, basket ball players, trainers, football players, tv stars, models, etc. etc. etc. Huge budget commercials were filled with people taking about all types of ‘dietary supplements’ and quick fix topicals those celebrities likely never even heard of before their agents contacted them with an offer of pay to read a script on camera.
That’s sad, though it’s become common place these days. Celebrities being paid tens of thousands to millions… just to read scripts on video for products they really didn’t use. To tweet or post links for products they really know nothing about.
Talk about serious ‘bait and switch’ tactics, and ‘UNtruths in advertising.’
All of that just motivated the doctors more. Their need for some truth was established. We agreed that MD’s Choice would never hire people to ‘endorse’ any of our products, to write testimonials, or give us positive ratings when they never really used or benefited from our product(s).
With some common problems clearly defined, the challenge became how to best help solve some of those problems and reach the goals in the most cost effective manner possible.
Over the next couple years, this group of professionals started focusing mostly on areas they believed they could actually and positively impact:
- broad-spectrum general health (Complete Formulas),
- joint health (Arthrosamine & Gluquestrian),
- bone & hormonal support (Mag-Cal Plus), and
- digestion (GI Support).
(the reproductive studies didn’t start until about 2001, which is a whole other story in itself)
Divide and conquer. The next step was to dig even deeper on the focused product choices, because they didn’t want to recreate the wheel. If something was already out there, just not on pharmacy or store shelves, they wanted to know about it. If something was tried and failed in some research or science somewhere in the world, they wanted to know why… so they could learn from that other experience, that other knowledge & research, and work to create the absolute best product in their class!
They focused, and dug even deeper at why and how somethings worked, as well as what didn’t and why.
Simple start, which only led to more questions.
Then to formulating some complex solutions… and some new products they could be proud of, and could have an ethical Results Based Guarantee people. Making it a little easier to get through all the noise, and compete with established supplement companies with far deeper pockets. The challenge was to get the word out, get people talking, sharing, and telling their family & friends about our effective products. Now, over twenty years later, it’s our dedicated customers that know our products have helped them, their pets and family, which has allowed us to remain in business. For those people we will always be grateful!
There were the competitors that spent major bucks (often hundreds of thousands to millions) buying celebrities and sponsoring some event… like the Winter Equestrian Challenge, ROLEX, HITS, some Eventing competitions… or dog shows… making it nearly impossible for us to be there (merely because we had an effective competing product). Those are all games our company refused to play, because it would have meant raising our price, reducing the quantity, or taking short cuts on the quality. All things against our fundamental goals… and ethical commitment to the truth, science, and the end-users that get our product.
The Core Foundation of MD’s Choice
Doctors Davenport & Martin were University of Tennessee Veterinarians finishing up a post doctorate Master’s degrees in nutrition (human & animal… who later became Certified Nutritional Specialists, have been involved in many peer reviewed articles, some patent filings, and still practice medicine today). They bantered with a couple of their professors: Doctor J.K. Miller, and Doctor James Bailey, both PhD Nutritionists. A couple board certified orthopedic surgeon veterinarians, Doctors Jim & LeAnn Blackford, as advisors & contributors. Doctor Micheal Bishop, a medical doctor from Vanderbilt with a PhD in pharmacology and biochemistry, who was also a clinical instructor, inventor, and practicing OBGYN, and a vital fact checker. Toss in a few more veterinarians, a couple more medical doctors, a dentist, and a few other peers (most practicing in Tennessee & Kentucky), a couple chemists double checking their findings and offering some suggestions, and you have an idea of who all is behind the science of the MD’s Choice products.
It wasn’t one person, one brain, or any one ideology. It became an honest, ideological altruistic effort to actually help educate consumers (all, whether they used the MD’s Choice product or not). And then, to create
- ~ something that actually helped the body promote healing itself when possible (human and animal).
- ~ products that offered benefits in ‘the right way’ – a safe way – and an honest way.
They wanted to make a positive impact on as many bodies as possible. They sincerely wanted to help change a piece of the world. For their family & friends, their patients, and for complete strangers.
To think this all this started from the frustration of not having better options available. Comparing notes about the healing hole, discussions, research, and an agreed need for some better solutions in the field of medicine (human & animal) that all started in the 90’s.
Not one of the amazing doctors that helped with the formulation of these incredible products have ever drawn a salary from MD’s Choice (or VetSupplements.com), which is a key reason the prices of the main products haven’t changed since 1995! They are all able to get the better quality, more consistent, products using their special formula for themselves, their family, friends, and practices professionally blended & packaged at a cost far less than it would have cost them to attempt to do it themselves.
Add in Frank McAlister, who was a Thoroughbred Farm Manager that bounced between Tennessee and Kentucky for an Orthopedic Surgeon (never part of MD’s Choice). Toss in Frank’s nearly 30 years in the US Military, communications division, and organizational skills, and now they had someone able to help with the bookkeeping, order shipping and receiving, and customer service. He’s been the Chief Operating Officer for nearly twenty years.
Toss Terry Mercer into the mix, a computer/freelance writer/camera/marketing guy with a pile of tradeshow, advertising, and web development experience into the mix, for their technology & marketing management, helping make things prettier and re-writing all that highly complicated science stuff into layman’s terms… and you have the President of MD’s Choice for the last twenty years, the face walking into thousands of clinics, stores, actively traveling the trade show & event circuit for years.
That’s the core makeup of the company, MD’s Choice. In 1998 VetSupplements.com was started, to help separate the animal products from the 97 human supplements they had available.
What this group of people all understood way back in the early to mid 90’s was that there really was a need for some better products than what was being prescribed and/or sitting on store shelves at that time. Once the products were done, the labels created, the next challenge was how to communicate to the general public.
Supplements really aren’t a ‘Ford vs Chevy vs Dodge vs Frieghtliner’ type of choice. The differences are more than just style and options, and really ABILITY (within the body). Absorption into the blood stream is important, but there are other factors that are actually more important:
where it goes from the blood stream,
what it actually does when it leaves the blood stream,
how it impacts the cells & tissues of the body,
which cells it really impacts
MD’s Choice products offer flexible dosing, based on individual factors… better and more effective options. Finally, a supplement company that cares about healthy & safe solutions!
Product Safety & Company Ethics
This is really a double edged sword. When MD’s Choice first started, the doctors released binders of science… thousands of pages of real science, backing up their logic, reasoning, and findings justifying the formulas they chose for each of the products.
However, within a year we learned that competitors were actively using our information… and some companies were attempting to ‘knock off’ (copy) our formulas. There was actually an equine product on the market that had almost the identical formula as our human product (just not the same ratio, quality, or safety tests). So, we pulled most of the product and formula specific science. We really are sorry we had to do that… but the companies we caught were huge, and we needed to do what was necessary to protect our formulas, our brands, and our company’s future.
So today, and for over 20 years now, mdschoice.com still has nearly 2,000 pages of nutritional information ‘open to the public’ – for the ‘greater good.’ Many Universities, College’s, Nutrition students, and professionals still reference the ‘notes’ and nearly 30 years of actual research that Doctors J.K. Miller and Jim Bailey, both PhD’s in Nutrition, and retired clinical instructors from the University of Tennessee and Doctors Davenport & Martin, D.V.M.s & C.N.S.s, also from UT, gave us to share with the world on MD’s Choice’s websites.
We still try to help educate. We strive to be honest and ethical… while maintaining some of the very best product formula’s in the business, both human and animal nutritional supplements. All the ingredients in MD’s Choice products are listed, in elemental amounts, accurately and honestly, on the product labels. However, the specifics of ratios, sources, and other such information are seldom shared with anyone else.
BUT the release of all the very real science based information didn’t stop the competing companies from continuing to make their false claims. Things like:
- ‘liquid joint replacements,’
- ‘quick cures,’ (we’ve heard claims of 3, 5, and 7 day ‘cures’ by some competing companies)
- don’t forget all those new ‘miracle ingredients.’
- ingredients that have no ‘nutritional’ value, or real benefit to the body,
- ingredients that have been scientifically proven to not really be safe for daily prolonged use
- products third party tests have shown don’t even contain as much as their label claims
- product, which don’t even have all the ingredients in their product that is written on their label.
It’s enough to make just about anyone honestly wonder:
- HOW those companies can continue to make those claims?
- IF their product really ‘worked’ why do they only have a 30 day guarantee?
What do they care? They got your money, for a time or ten. When you realize their ‘quick fix’ really didn’t help, or actually caused some other side effect or the problem worsen, it’s past the thirty days. No money back. But hey, maybe you’ll try some other product that company has… with a different ‘magic formula,’ a different label, maybe even a different company name. But, in reality, no one really has any idea what’s really in the bottle or if the stuff is safe.
The reality is: CAN YOU TRUST THE COMPANY SELLING YOU PRODUCTS? If you aren’t sure, maybe you should step back… because honestly, your longevity might depend upon it!
Look for ‘flags’
Things COMPANIES with a solid foundation in Science based Nutrition DO NOT:
~ use calcium carbonate, except as some type of bicarbonate, in ANY of their supplements.
~ use any iron oxide, in any product claiming to supply iron.
~ list their ingredients on the label in ‘combined’ amounts (ethical companies that understand the need for quality nutrition will always use ELEMENTAL AMOUNTS)
~ list some ‘proprietary blend’ on the label to hide the real ingredients, rather than actually stating what, and how much, is in the product.
~ list generic ‘single names’ of ingredients, because they know FORM MATTERS and is vital to the math for absorption.
~ have any ‘herbs’ (plant derived drugs) in any product intended for daily use for a prolonged period of time.
Ethical companies want to avoid dangers and known negative side effects. They want to avoid both harming others AND any potential law suit. Sadly, there are companies that just don’t know any better… and some that frankly don’t seem to care.
Infomercials and the Reality of Science
Throughout the 90’s there was a guy, “Doctor” Barefoot, doing zillions (or so it seemed) of infomercials about “Coral Calcium.” The Founders’ of MD’s Choice just shook their heads, and pointed out all the fallacies in Barefoot’s claims (he wasn’t really a doctor, medical professional, nutritionist, or even clinical researcher, which was covered by ‘Quackwatch’). Honestly, this section is a bit boring, but an important factor that helped motivate the real doctors involved with MD’s Choice to group together, and develop some effective formulas. (you can skip to the end of this section, to the next red bar section, if you never saw the ‘coral calcium’ commercials or Barefoot).
Oh, most of what Barefoot said about CALCIUM was generally all true… the problem was that HIS TYPE calcium and what he claimed about the calcium he was using was totally bogus (illegal and totally false on so many levels).
- it’s been internationally illegal to harvest coral – world wide for decades;
- ‘coral’ was NOT the really ‘in’ his product, any more than sand is necessarily comprised of coral. (It was never even determined he was getting the calcium from sand in some far off island… or that there was really any ‘coral’ actually involved, any more than some fossils in some remote mine in Utah, Africa, or India).
- Third, sand is made up of a whole lot of things, including dead fish, shell fish, heavy metals that settled to the bottle, and rocks broken by the currents, tides, and waves… essentially ‘limestone’ – which is basically what calcium carbonate is.
- Forth, even if coral was somehow legally farmed, Coral calcium is composed primarily of calcium carbonate (CaCO3), with small amounts of magnesium and other trace minerals. Calcium Carbonate has been scientifically proven, repeatedly throughout the years, but dozens – if not hundreds – of researchers, to not be a bio-available form of calcium, although it’s the cheapest and most common form of calcium… now you know why… limestone).
One of Barefoot’s big claims was that his ‘coral calcium’ had the ability to change the pH (or alkalinity), and that somehow had significant health benefits… even curing all types of stuff. A real miracle, right? Well, he was the modern day example of a ‘snake oil salesman.’
Another of Barefoot’s claims was that testing your saliva’s ph level was an indicator of your health. However, the reality is that testing saliva has no actual or practical value in evaluating general health. The level is usually similar to blood pH, which the body keeps within a very narrow range. When the saliva flow is high, the pH is usually about 7.4 (7 is neutral, low numbers are acid, and higher numbers are alkaline). Calcium intake does NOT affect the pH of saliva. The most common cause of low (acid) salivary pH is the presence in the mouth of bacteria that cause cavities. In diseases (such as diabetic acidosis) in which blood pH is dangerously low, the level is determined by blood pH testing and calcium pills have no relevance to treatment, contrary to Barefoot’s claims. With respect to pH and alkalinity, the calcium component is far less important than the carbonate component, which is chemically similar to the bicarbonate in baking soda.
Hundreds of scientific studies support the medical belief that cholesterol is a major factor in cardiovascular disease. However, we couldn’t find any science to support Barefoot’s claim that there is some relationship between abnormal cholesterol levels and calcium deficiency. Further, Barefoot cited no evidence to supports what he claimed on that topic.
Barefoot claimed that the calcium in coral calcium is far more absorbable (100%) than the calcium in milk (17%) , calcium citrate products (10%) and antacid products (1-2%). However, science doesn’t support his claims, again… with nutritionists stating that the best forms of “pure calcium carbonate” products are at most 10% actual ‘calcium’ (90% carbonate), and then only about 30-35% of the actual ‘calcium’ is actually absorbable.
So, the mathematical reality is 500mg of the best ‘calcium carbonate’ is that only 50mg is actually calcium (90%, or 450mg is the carbonate). Then, only 15 to 17.5mg of calcium can be used (absorbed by the body)… out of that 500mg starting number. Sure isn’t much calcium from that big ole impressive combined mineral number, huh?
The issue of whether Barefoot has any actual credentials or not was determined by the courts. Despite thousands of Web sites referring to Barefoot as “Doctor Robert Barefoot” or Robert Barefoot, Ph.D. the reality is that he is NOT a medical doctor and does NOT have a Ph.D. degree when he was promoting all the ‘coral calcium’ stuff. In 1999, Barefoot was NOT permitted to testify as an expert in a case in which the Maryland Attorney General stopped the marketing of T-Up (an aloe vera concentrate) and cesium chloride for the treatment of cancer and AIDS. The case was extremely serious because the regimen had killed several of its users. During hearings in the case, the defendants sought to have Barefoot testify that cesium was effective. The curriculum vitae that Barefoot submitted described his formal education after high school as “1964 Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Chemistry” and “1967 Graduated with Honors, Chemical Research Technology.” This means that his highest educational credential was a diploma (not a university degree) that reflected only three years of coursework. The presiding Administrative Law Judge noted that Barefoot had formal training and experience in INORGANIC chemistry but had no professionally supported or supervised training and had NOT done any professionally recognized research in organic chemistry and biochemistry in the human body.
Although Barefoot described having many discussions with doctors and patients about using cesium for treating cancer, the judge concluded that “this experience and study was not scientific.” In 2000, a civil court judge ordered the defendants to pay millions of dollars in restitution and $3.7 million in civil penalties. In 2001, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals upheld this decision in a ruling that explained why Barefoot’s exclusion had been justified. One of the defendants received a 46-month prison sentence in a parallel criminal case.
Web sites also described Barefoot as a “world-renowned chemist.” However, his own curriculum vitae stated that between 1968 and 1972 he published six scientific research papers on analytical chemistry and diagenesis. Diagenesis refers to the changes that occur in sediments as they are buried under other sediments. This has some relevance to the formation of limestone, but it certainly has nothing to do with human biology or human health.
Searching Medline, which is the most comprehensive database of medically-related journals, there were no articles with Barefoot listed as author found. His curriculum vitae stated that he had patented an ore-extraction process and headed two companies that serviced the petroleum industry. While his marketing activities, and infomercials attracted considerable attention it’s highly suspect to refer to him as a ‘doctor’ or be called a “renowned chemist.”
Further, Doctor Carl J. Reich, M.D., who co-authored The Calcium Factor (with Barefoot), was a Canadian physician whose license was canceled in 1983. Barefoot claimed that Reich had a thriving practice in Calgary, Canada, but the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons considered his practices “potentially dangerous” when they pulled his license to practice medicine.
In 2003, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission stopped Barefoot and Reich from broadcasting because of the fallacies, and grossly inaccurate information. However, sadly, there are still a pile of ‘coral calcium’ products still widely marketed today. Most with a few lesser claims these days (but many still refer to one of Barefoot’s published books, which continue promoting the fallacies). It’s all that ‘buyer beware’ – and ‘freedom of speech’ – that allows his books to be sold. Sadly, all that ‘marketing hype’ and baseless advertising is tough to get out of the minds of the people that bought into the false claims and misinformation he was promoting.
Laboratory analyses have shown that some calcium supplements contain significant amounts of lead and other heavy metals. The UC Berkeley Wellness Letter. February 2003, has warned:
Science doesn’t support Barefoot’s claims. He couldn’t produce any, even in his own defense. In January 2004, shortly before a trial would otherwise taken place, the FTC announced that Barefoot had agreed to a permanent injunction under which he, and Deonna Enterprises, Inc., and Karbo Enterprises, Inc., are:
- Prohibited from making unsubstantiated claims that:
- “Coral Calcium Supreme” or any other coral calcium product can treat or cure cancer, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other serious diseases.
- The body absorbs coral calcium better than other calcium supplements in the market.
- A daily serving size of such a product provides the same amount of bio-available calcium as two gallons of milk.
- Scientific research published in JAMA and elsewhere proves that calcium supplements are able to reverse or cure cancer in the human body.
- Prohibited from making unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits, performance, or efficacy for any dietary supplement, food, drug, cosmetic, device, or service.
- Required to recall any product packaging that makes the prohibited claims,
- Required to notify resellers and distributors about the FTC action.
The court order also permitted the FTC to recover all royalties owed to Barefoot in connection with the Coral Calcium Supreme infomercial marketing (it’s unclear if any royalties associated with the books are also collected by the FTC… OR what is happening with any of the monies they collect).
The point of this section was NOT to ‘rake’ Barefoot over the coals more, but to educate people of some of the motivating factors used in defining the goals of MD’s Choice. And choosing which products to formulate, explain why one of our products is Mag-Cal Plus, a truly bio-available Calcium product with the necessary ingredients to maximize absorption and actual functionality within a mammals body.
The Uninformed and Nutritionally Unaware
As an example some companies with products on store shelves added Devil’s Claw to their joint supplement. Granted, it was common ingredient in the 90’s (through mid-2000’s). However, during the investigation, MD’s Choice learned there was nearly 4,000 (yes, thousand) years of research on this herb, with very real drug activity. It is commonly used for pain reduction and anti-inflammatory agents by some companies with joint supplements, which it can do. But, more importantly, that particular herb was actively used (is still today, in some parts of the world) as ‘the abortion drug.’ It can spark uterine contractions, and in the late stages of pregnancy it is used to induce labor… but in the early stages, cause an abortion. (Hence the name, “Devils CLAW”).
Just think if you were TRYING TO HAVE A BABY… but having miscarriages, or other problems, because you were using a joint supplement with that ingredient. Or you had an AKC registered dog, or champion breeding horse… but they couldn’t produce a healthy baby… while on some supplement containing Devil’s Claw.
It was interesting, back in the late 90’s through early 2000’s, we couldn’t find any products using that ingredient with any warnings on the label about NOT feeding to pregnant or breeding animals (or people).
So, MD’s Choice generically released the information (like above). Within a few weeks, a couple companies with products containing Devil’s Claw actually threatened to sue. Demanding we retract the press release, and information. We laughed, and invited them to, because SCIENCE WAS ON OUR SIDE! When they finally (and actually) saw the science… they retracted their threats… and quickly added the warnings to their product labels.
Another important example was calcium in supplements.
For hundreds of years, they weren’t safe in nearly all supplements and manufactured products containing added calcium. Specifically, the calcium carbonate commonly used in supplements was made from limestone, bone meal, or oyster shells, and found to contain high levels of lead & mercury.
In 1997 the government took action to reduce lead levels in all existing human products containing calcium. Yet, today, over half way through 2017, animal products only ‘have to’ test for E.coli and Salmonella, the heavy metals (in animal products) aren’t regulated, or required.
The founders of MD’s Choice defined 30 MORE common contaminants in 1995, which every batch of their products would be tested for, even their animal products.
This list included lead, mercury, aluminum, barium, cadmium, mold, arsenic, and a bunch of other things that can really hurt a body over time. Today, every batch of the MD’s Choice products are tested three times: in bulk (before any ingredients are actually used), at blending, and again after bottling (randomly).
The products MD’s Choice has truly are the top of their class, and often far stronger (bio-availability wise) than the competition, for competitive prices.
Why Products were Developed by MD’s Choice
The very real Doctor’s of MD’s Choice gathered info, looked for solutions to some common problems they (their family, friends, and patients) were having.
- They focused on what things just wasn’t working (or had serious side effects).
- They looked for holes in the market they could actually create something that would be both cost effective, and actually help fulfill a need.
- They also evaluated many of the things being falsely marketed by other companies (such as Barefoot, and a pile of MLM companies cropping up out of nowhere).
- Their focus was solutions. Things which would really work (the right way – correctly & safely) for the vast majority. With sound science backing up their logic, and reasons for their choices.
They hoped people could clearly understand the difference between the MD’s Choice formulas these nutritional specialists had created vs the glut of lesser stuff with far less nutritional value or filled with masking agents already out there being marketed by far bigger companies (with far deeper pockets), and far less care about ‘proper nutrition.’
First was the Complete Formula (multi-vitamin/mineral supplement) and Mag-Cal Plus products, because of the fallacy of the ‘one a day’ and false claims of 500mg of calcium in just one tablet per day.
Next were the joint supplement, since Vioxx had just been pulled from distribution, there wasn’t but a couple ‘joint supplements’ on the market back in the early 90’s. The OTC stuff being pushed was either scientifically inefficient, or promoting something less than safe for a daily supplement intended for prolonged use.
The more research MD’s Choice did, the more evident the market was filled with products that either weren’t really ‘as claimed,’ or often just pain killers and symptom blockers. Often avoiding the reality that the underlying problem would just getting worse using the blockers, maskers, and killers. The side effects and very real potential dangers of interactions with other medications or treatments was something few of the companies putting herbs in their product seemed to care about, or look into the science on, much less bothering to warn ‘their’ customers about.
The Process of Scientific Formulation
The doctors with MD’s Choice realized, through real science, third party abstracts, and nearly two centuries of combined experience in their studies of Nutrition, and existing clinics & active practices, which ingredients had issues, which could actually work… as well as how they’d work within the body.
So, they decided to create some focused solutions, fill gaps, and develop formulas that would actually target specific issues commonly found in mammals (especially people, dogs, and horses).
So, with a list of potential products, the doctor’s at MD’s Choice listed out all the nutrients and ingredients commonly used in each of the product types… worldwide. Divided up the list, and tried to come up with actual scientific research why every common ingredient should or shouldn’t be considered in their formula.
They wanted to know just exactly where and how that ingredient would impact and effect different parts of the body, what the known science was… and how the different ‘ingredients’ interacted with each other and the body. If there were any ‘contributing nutrition’ factors, such as calcium requires magnesium, boron, zinc, and vitamin D to be optimized within a mammal’s body.
They also paid close attention to ‘blockers,’ and ‘inhibitors’ that might interfere with absorption or use of a particular nutrient in the body. All of this was particularly important for people on other medications… and for people with serious health issues, for their own family, friends, and patients.
Their research also included ABSORPTION… when, where, how quickly, and how did the body actually use it. This happened for every ingredient… whether they thought they might use it or not, because they wanted clear scientific reasons why certain ingredients were and weren’t selected.
The list became a whole bunch of excel spreadsheets. But, the doctors knew what was on the market, what was being researched, benefits and any contraindications. They had looked at everything in both the human and animal world intended to treat, help, or otherwise do something for that class of product. They knew what either didn’t work well, or had some seriously dangerous side effects.
The end result, after all the science, the logic, information gathering… the results of their work became: A Foundational Broad spectrum Multi-Vitamin/Mineral supplement, containing 97 ingredients (Complete Formula Liquid). A premiere joint formula (which became Arthrosamine Capsules, Arthrosamine BeefyChewables, Gluquestrian powder same high quality human formula, just different dosing size, and delivery method). A bone, PMS, and top notch calcium product (Mag-Cal Plus). And, an incredible digestion product (GI Support). Those were their initial products. (The reproduction products came a few years later).
David vs Goliath Scenario
The challenge was cost effectively launching a small self-funded private company with the solid science for a few key formula’s.
Next, trying to ethically get these high quality products actually manufactured with all the consistency and safety protocols needed, at a price most people could afford, without spending millions on a plant and personnel.
All the while learning to deal with all the misinformation, and deep pockets marketing, the big companies were doing with their celebrity endorsements and huge event sponsorships. Yeah, just try to say all that fast, but we managed.
Thankfully, Women’s Health Group, Tennessee Farmers Co-op, Butler Animal Health (now Henry Schien) became the first distributors of the key MD’s Choice products. Soon followed by Valley Vet and KV Vet, the nation’s top two catalogs, to get the proverbial ball rolling.
The next challenge was…
Educating People About Some Key Things:
- MD’s Choice products are not a ‘quick fix’ or offering ‘instant results’
- Products built with a scientific foundation, offering better results over time (usually just a few weeks)…
- with an industry first: RESULTS BASED GUARANTEE that wasn’t limited to 1 container or 30 days.
- “It Works” has two very different meanings: One is the quick pain killer & symptom masker that doesn’t really fix or solve any problem. The other supplies the body the nutrients necessary for optimum health and healing, in forms the body can readily use.
- No matter how good a product is, it won’t do anything sitting on the shelf (or in your medicine cabinet)
- The body didn’t get that way over night, and it can’t get fixed overnight (not even with surgery), was key.
- Breaking up the dosing into at least 2 or 3 times a day when there is a problem you’re trying to help is vital. That ‘one a day’ stuff only works as a preventive (and in the movies).
- While too much won’t likely hurt you, too little could keep you from experiencing positive results as quickly as possible… and more than is needed would just be a waste of your money.
- Getting people to understand the MD’s Choice formulas are not ‘one size fits all’ type products… nutrition doesn’t work that way. Age, weight, severity, location, continued use, other medications & treatment, diet, exercise, and goals all play a role in determining the PROPER DOSING.
- MD’s Choice strives to treat people AS WE WOULD LIKE TO BE TREATED.
Snake Oil is Alive and Well, Sadly…
Fast forward 22 years, and store shelves and social media is riddled with quick fixes, claims of miracle cures, and fast pain free solutions… despite the science, contrary to reality, and often with little though toward safety and honest effectiveness.
It seems to be a never ending battle with the marketing hype of the “ingredient of the month” so many of our competitors seem to have. Their latest miracle claim, usually just some new herbal pain killers or masking agents under a new or different label. And sometimes it’s just semantics marketing to the uninformed, like that liquid joint supplement advertising so aggressively on facebook, claiming to be a ‘liquid joint replacement,’ to be ‘a cure’ for joint problems, then telling people their product doesn’t contain any ‘glucosamine or chondroitin.’ Well, their ingredients list clearly says the primary active ingredient is “Type II Collagen,” which according to years of nutritional training, and as pointed out on WebMD.com, is exactly what Chondroitin is… Type II Collagen. Semantics, I’m sure. And amusing, if you think about it. WebMD takes it a few steps further with the following words: “Collagen type II is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth in doses up to 2.5 mg daily for up to 24 weeks. It’s not clear what the side effects might be. Other collagen products, such as bovine collagen and gelatin, have caused allergic reactions. Since collagen type II contains chondroitin and glucosamine, large doses might lead to the same side effects as those seen with chondroitin and glucosamine supplements. These side effects include nausea, heartburn, diarrhea and constipation, drowsiness, skin reactions, and headache.”
It is also very important to understand that the ‘type’ of ‘glucosamine’ WebMD, and most all other articles on the internet are talking about is “glucosamine hcl” (the most commonly used form of glucosamine). It is also the form scientifically proven decades ago to not have any true bio-availability in mammals, and completely bombed the multi-year, thousands of people, double tested, GAIT Study by the NIH.
It’s tough for a small company to get the word out, regardless of the science or quality of the product, because people want the ‘now’ relief, even if it is temporary. We understand, and hope that those people actually ‘in pain’ will see their doctor (or professional healthcare provider) to get something to help WHILE USING OUR PRODUCT, as the body is healing itself when possible. It shouldn’t be an either or, but rather a both! Use the pain killers knowingly, as needed, as directed… when needed… but not multiple times a day, every day, for weeks, months, and years. That is sadly how stuff gets worse! How immunity and addictions start. And why ‘pain killers’ and ‘masking agents’ will never appear in an MD’s Choice product. Not that we want you in pain, we don’t want to do anything that blocks your ability to know you aren’t healed or healthy yet. The MD’s Choice formulas are based on real science… with efficacy, absorption, functionality, and safety all in mind. Pain goes away when actual healing occurs, and the reality is that sometimes surgery really is necessary.
Since 1995, MD’s Choice products have been considered the best scientifically formulated supplements in their class to exist.
Designed and formulated by practicing doctors, to efficiently deal with specific issues without masking the symptoms. Supplying the body the building blocks it really needs, in forms it can readily use, with safety, bio-availability, and effectiveness being primary goals (which are met or exceeded nearly 90% of the time).
MD’s Choice used to have regular print ads in DVM Magazine, Vet Practice News, and assorted other national and regional magazines, plus we exhibited at most of the industry shows (AVMA, AAEP, APPMA, etc.), as well as many major events. Few take the time to do more than scan the industry magazines, much less wade through piles of emails, or spend a lot of time websites (like this). And most people at the market shows were the same happy, already existing customers, we’d seen over the previous decade.
From 1998 through 2010, between shows, someone from MD’s Choice personally walked into most of this nations Veterinarian Schools, and literally thousands of clinics, practices, hospitals, and resellers businesses in most of the lower 48 states, often with one of the distributor’s reps. However, we quickly learned that whenever a practice owner or vet sales rep changed, we’d often have to ‘do it’ all over again… to help people new to our products, and real science, learn that ‘glucosamine + chondroitin’ is not the best option, glucosamine in liquid has no stability, or functionality… and that herbs are ultimately plant derived drugs that block the pain, rather than promoting healing. Most practice and business owners were really too busy to meet with us for much time, and even then the meetings were often limited to times between patients or customers (respectively). The travel was a never ending circle, often thousands of miles apart (and many dollars).
Inevitably, some competitor would be offering that same rep a trip some where if they ‘sold’ __________ products during such and such of time. We quickly learned that many sales reps wouldn’t be promoting the ‘best product’ – but the one that offered them the most personal benefit… with spiffs, the trips, or some other prizes. At least two of our distributor reps started promoting some product their family member decided to make, admitting it wasn’t ‘as good’ (but saying “hey, it’s family.”) Often confusing their clients with less than great scientific information, contradictory facts, and more focused on their direct (and indirect) personal gain than actually helping to solve problems.
So we stepped back… and carefully evaluated all we were doing, how it worked, what we could do better for the benefit of both the end users of our product and our resellers. We care about our customers.
Learning, Evolving, Adapting…
and Maintaining Our Sales Prices
We learned all that travel & advertising cost us a great deal of time & money, and doing all those things for the benefit of some distributor, was not the best way to achieve our goals (or really helping our clients… you, or the end-users). Oh, we made sales, picked up a lot of new accounts, and met a whole lot of wonderful hard working people. However, sales reps turned over far too quickly, distributors were fickle and cared more about making money and spiffs than faithfully representing high quality supplements that didn’t have multi-million dollar ad campaigns and celebrity endorsements.
We learned the majority of our existing customers were happy, with an awesome retention rate. The animal owners continued using our product until their beloved pet passed away, or was sold (usually making sure the new owner knew about our product). The people using our human product, also faithful. The majority of our existing resellers cared about QUALITY of Product, having a safe product that worked the right way. Most of our customers have been with us for years, many since the beginning. However, they really didn’t want to pay more, despite our fluctuating ingredient costs, increased testing costs, inflation, and higher shipping prices. So we needed to calculate how we could best continue fulfilling their needs.
Evaluating the ROI (return on investment) for different things we were doing, trying to work smarter making people aware of our product and looking for more cost effective ways to use our time (to help save our customers money). We learned early on that it was far less expensive to maintain our core customers with the best products & service possible, than continue spending a lot of time and money trying to attract new clients. For the last twenty years, our prices have remained the same, which is huge in this industry… especially with the industries unmatched Results Based Guarantee!
Our Existing Accounts:
~ the veterinarians, resellers, and end-users that love our product were key to our business model.
We know MD’s Choice has survived over 20 years in business BECAUSE OF OUR DEDICATED CUSTOMERS actually getting positive results, and being happy with our service! All that really means something to us!
They not only sustain us, but even helped grow our business… without all that added expense of time & money.
Not only has our prices remained the same for over 20 years, but we can occasionally pass on rewards to our customers. That is a far better use of our time and money than trade shows, traveling to events all over North America, print ads, and far more ethical than paying for endorsements.
Over the years, we had seen far too many companies reward ‘new accounts’ with some specials – but not their existing accounts. That wasn’t something we liked when Sprint or Charter did it to us, despite being their customers for years, so MD’s Choice vowed to not ever do that to our customers.
Most businesses have ‘show specials’ – for those placing orders ‘at the show.’ So do we… even though we don’t participate in the ‘show circuit’ anymore (and yes, there are still dozens of shows, each and every year). Just give us a call, or sign up for our ‘members only’ mailer, you’ll be notified if there are any specials or deals.
For the New People
~ it might help you to know that since 1995, when the products were first developed, MD’s Choice has also maintained an A+ rating with the BBB, with zero complaints ever filed, another rarity for a supplement company.
~ We care about our customers, and the end-users.
~ We strive to treat people the way we’d like to be treated… fairly, honestly, and with respect.
~ One of our primary goals is solving problems, whenever possible.
~ It’s important to note the price of the key products were able to remain the same because the doctor’s that formulated and designed the products have NEVER drawn a salary from MD’s Choice! That wasn’t the reason they created the products. They had their own practice(s), or teaching or research positions… their own primary income source already.
Their goal, was to create something that ACTUALLY WORKS for themselves, their family, their friends and exiting clients, hoping to “Help change the world ~ one body at a time.”
If you’re interested in learning more, want to hear about specials… new information… please let us know.