A new injection-only drug has received a hechsher (rabbinic supervision mark) from the Orthodox Union and is the first pharmaceutical prescription drug ever to receive one – a complete innovation in halakha (Jewish law) because the drug is given by injection only and therefore is completely exempt from all rules of kosher food.
Nonetheless, the OU gave Pfizer an OU symbol (“Ⓤ”) for its new drug, Elelyso – and touted doing so, CNBC reported this afternoon.
“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. We commend Pfizer for taking this step and making this commitment to the Jewish community,” Rabbi Menachem Genack, the CEO of OU Kosher, reportedly said in a Pfizer press release.
Elelyso is a form of enzyme replacement therapy that is meant to provide longterm treatment for adults with Type 1 Gaucher Disease. It is manufactured in Israel for Pfizer by Protalix Biotherapeutics.
One in every 14 Ashkenazi Jews is a carrier of Gaucher Disease.
In that press release, Pfizer reportedly claims Elelyso got OU supervision because kosher criteria were “met due to Protalix’s innovative and proprietary manufacturing system, which uses genetically engineered carrot cells grown in a simple solution of water, plant extracts, sugar and a mixture of vitamins and minerals.”
When CNBC pointed out to a Pfizer spokesperson that injection-only medicines do not need kosher certification at all, and that oral medications taken to save life don’t either, Pfizer’s spokesperson responded by claiming the OU certification “shows Pfizer’s commitment to the Gaucher disease community.”
She also told CNBC that Pfizer only paid the OU a “nominal fee” to cover expenses related to sending kosher inspectors to the manufacturing facility in Israel to inspect it and for granting certification.
Gaucher Disease “prevents the breakdown of some fats because of an enzyme deficiency and may lead to organ damage or even death. Type 1 Gaucher is thought to affect about 6,000 people in the United States, and it is the most common genetic disorder in people with Ashkenazic Jewish ancestry, according to the National Gaucher foundation,” CNBC reported.
By Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com