The Little Red Wine Pill Panacea

Red Wine or a Red Pill

Several years ago- the old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” was tweaked for adults to “a glass of red wine a day keeps the heart healthy”.  The push to drink red wine for purported medical benefits such as heart health became all the rage.

Until recently, there was not as much a push to do this. However, the spotlight on the purported medicinal benefits of red wine has become in the forefront again. It appears that there may be other benefits related to aging. See: New Study Validates Longevity Pathway. The article discusses a recent revelation that Dr. David Sinclair and his team of researchers found concerning resveratrol and SIRT1. Resveratrol is a compound found in the skin of grapes and berries and also peanuts and it is supposed to increase the activity of sirtuin, SIRT1.  Simply stated, the increased SIRT1 activity shields the body from diseases due to accelerating the mitochondria which normally slows as one ages. According to Dr. Sinclair, Harvard Medical School professor of genetics and senior author, “In the history of pharmaceuticals, there has never been a drug that binds to a protein to make it run faster in the way that resveratrol activates SIRT1.

How would the Red Pill be Regulated?

It this too good to be true and if it is true how should the “red pill” be regulated?  How would the product be classified—dietary supplement, over the counter pharmaceutical or prescription drug? Wouldn’t drinking a glass of wine suffice? According to a recent report, one would have to drink 100 glasses of wine for any medical benefits to occur.

Classification of the product is important in terms of how the United States Food and Drug Administration would regulate this product. If regulated as a dietary supplement pre-approval is not a requisite. If regulated as a prescription drug, then a New Application would have to be filed with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Drug Approval process is time consuming and arduous. Yet, shouldn’t it be arduous when human safety issues are involved?

Who Would Have the Authority to Regulate An “Enriched Wine”?

Suppose wine could be “enriched” to provide medical benefits. Jurisdiction become tricky too. Jurisdiction under this scenario is a legal term of art that refers to the proper government entity that has the authority to regulate.  How is wine regulated and who has the authority to regulate red wine? Is it the United States Department of Treasury, Alcohol, Tobacco, Tax and Trade Bureau (BATT)? Actually, BATT oversees alcoholic beverage regulation except wine beverages containing less than 7 percent alcohol, which are under the jurisdiction of FDA. BATT enforces laws that govern the production and distribution of alcoholic beverages and investigates adulterated alcoholic products with FDA assistance.


To date, the research seems promising and there may be medical benefits yet it appears that more research is needed. The current information and research is not yet definitive as to whether the product would even “work” or be beneficial. The reality is that more research is needed. As much as one can extol the myriad benefits of taking the “little red pill” or drinking red wine (100 glasses?) prudence is recommended. In the meantime, enjoy your red wine for what it is.