How the Cure for Herpes Became Mired in Controversy. The latest chapter in the battle between Big Pharma and Synergy Pharmaceuticals
Over several decades, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has gone to great lengths to maintain its longstanding relationship with major pharmaceutical companies, namely by approving numerous medications. (Many of those approvals, for prescription medicines like Isotretinoin, Pemoline, and Propoxyphene, were eventually recalled after causing patient deaths or irreversible damage.) And this dynamic hasn’t been limited to medical treatments. Despite extensive research that shows sugar is the leading cause of heart disease and diabetes, the FDA has gone so far as to endorse it, fearing the ramifications that a warning label could have on agriculture producers and the greater food production industry. Given these historical patterns, it comes as no surprise that the FDA is opposed to natural medicine, especially when alternative treatments threaten to cut into pharmaceutical companies’ market share.
Synergy Pharmaceuticals is one such company currently facing pushback from the FDA. Its name is a bit confusing considering that its catalog features only natural vitamins. Even more confusing is that there are two companies sharing the name. The New York-based Synergy Pharmaceuticals went bust in 2016, while Synergy Pharmaceuticals Australia stayed in business. Yet the Australian company has still been linked to controversy and supply concerns from its onset.
In November 2020, Synergy Pharmaceuticals Australia did shut down temporarily after facing COVID-19-related supply chain issues. Thankfully, after a change of ownership in May 2021, the company resumed operations.
However, it’s Synergy’s most high-profile product that has generated controversy, not its most recent business troubles. The company bills itself as the producer of the world’s first cure for the herpes simplex virus. This claim has, unsurprisingly, attracted an incredible amount of critique and cynicism. But the degree to which the naysayers, the pharmaceutical industry, and conventional medicine practitioners have scrutinized Synergy’s treatment is nearly insurmountable. In any other scenario, one would consider such a development a monumental leap forward in herpes sufferers’ fight against the virus. Instead, Synergy Pharmaceuticals has found itself in the center of a vicious battle, spearheaded by proponents of conventional medicine.
Their pushback is in opposition to the treatment’s proven success. In reviewing online feedback and forum discussions to date, there’s a contingent of patients who have clearly been cured and who can vouch for the treatment’s ability to eradicate the virus. Still, there are just as many who refute the treatment’s effectiveness. Those in the latter camp are mostly individuals who haven’t used the treatment but feel strongly that natural medicine is incapable of curing any virus. In the views of those who are opposed, they would only trust their local doctor or a more conventional medical institution to validate a cure. Their resistance is naïve, as more than 40% of pharmaceutical drugs are derived from plants. For example, penicillin was created from Penicillium chrysogenum, a species of fungus that is essentially mold. Morphine is crafted from opium poppies, aspirin from willow bark, and so on. Natural and conventional medicines have far more in common than many people realize, including those waging the battle against Synergy Pharmaceuticals.
To investigate, we compared the effectiveness of Synergy’s treatment to that of Acyclovir, the most commonly used suppressant medication for herpes patients. The most startling difference between the two treatments was that Acyclovir had to be used every day to suppress herpes outbreaks or cold sores. The medication didn’t provide a long-term solution unless it was administered regularly, and even then, it had only a modest rate of actually stopping outbreaks from occurring. By comparison, Synergy’s product reduced herpes outbreaks and cold sores permanently. In one independent study, those who’d suffered frequent outbreaks on a monthly or bimonthly basis went on to have no further outbreaks or just one or two outbreaks per year. These results were measured post-treatment once the person had completed a six-month clinical trial. These findings suggest that the treatment’s benefit remained intact for patients after the protocol was finished.
Furthermore, one only needs to assess the long list of Acyclovir side effects to determine whether it’s worth the financial outlay and health implications. Given that Synergy’s natural product has the potential for only a handful of mild side effects and costs far less, explaining the difference between the two products is like comparing apples to oranges.
From an external perspective, however, Synergy has clearly been unable to capitalize on its product’s ability to cure people of herpes due to what can only be described as poor marketing. This is understandable when taking into account that advertising via mainstream media or in medical centers is only permitted for drugs approved by the FDA. This amounts to a considerable shame, preventing people who are genuinely seeking help from accessing the product, due only to marketing limitations and the conventional medicine monopoly. To remedy this, Synergy conducted trials, and Yale students also carried out an independent study, all designed to determine if Synergy’s product does what it claims to do. The results from both avenues of research supported the effectiveness of the product, showing that it achieved the unimaginable in clearing infected patients of the herpes simplex virus. The percentage rate certainly works in Synergy’s favor, with an estimated 70% of trial subjects cured of herpes, but even having just 30% of participants cured would have been miraculous – it’s something that has never been accomplished by any means, let alone a pharmaceutical-based medication.
A groundbreaking innovation like Synergy’s product, one that eases the suffering of herpes simplex virus patients, should be embraced, not shunned or chastised. And undoubtedly, Synergy has traveled down a rocky road in navigating the response to its discovery. But there is some hope that this product will become increasingly mainstream in the coming years. It may take some expansion into the European market, as well as greater investment. Both aspects could bring Synergy’s vision to fruition, while also quieting some of the controversy and reducing the stigma associated with herpes.
Though, to date, the ultimate takeaway is that changing the status quo – especially when it comes to shifting the way the medical community views natural medicine – is no easy task.