The OU reports:
Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) today announced that the Orthodox Union (OU) has granted kosher certification to ELELYSO™ (taliglucerase alfa) for injection, an enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) for the long-term treatment of adults with a confirmed diagnosis of Type 1 Gaucher disease. ELELYSO is the first prescription medication to be certified kosher by the OU, a milestone for the brand which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May 2012……
Said Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of OU Kosher. “In a life or death situation, Jewish law clearly sets aside the kosher status of a prescription medicine, but in other cases, it is preferable and sometimes recommended that a medicine be certified kosher.
Huh? Gaucher disease is a life or death situation. Without the enzyme treatment it shortens life. According to the National Institute of Health:
Enzyme replacement therapy is available for most people with types 1 and 3 Gaucher disease. Given intravenously every two weeks, this therapy decreases liver and spleen size, reduces skeletal anomalies, and reverses other symptoms of the disorder, including abnormal blood counts. (The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved taliglucerase alfa for long-term enzyme replacement in people with type 1 Gaucher disease.)
DovBear asks: “I honestly cannot understand why an item that cannot be eaten or drunk and is not for use in food preparation, serving, or clean-up needs to have a hechsher (rabbinic seal certifying that it’s kosher). If someone would kindly explain this to me, I’d appreciate it.”
The answer is simple. The OU has moved from a service to help kosher consumers into a business that will sell its hashgachah to any company it can convince to buy it.
Pfizer is competing with other enzyme replacement drug treatments for this condition, whose average cost per patient is $200,000 a year, for life!
The kosher industry has done absurd things like certifying toilet bowl cleaner and toilet paper. One has to admire these entrepreneurs that cover the GI tract from one end to the other. But give me a break.
This sort of shameless hucksterism is making savvy folks more cynical about kosher certification. The “kosher nostra” meme is being fed by this narishkeit. At the same time, less halachically informed people aspiring to the highest levels of observance are paying extra.
I posted on FaceBook:
Kosher Madness Contest!
We now have kosher certification on toilet paper, toilet bowl cleaner, and injectible life-saving medicines.
CHALLENGE: come up with the most absurd new terrain for the kosher certifying agency. Bonus points for ingenious absurd rationales. Winner is the one who racks up the most “likes.”
Feel free to join the fray (103 comments and counting, after just 2 hours)
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