Bush Payback To Drug Companys Could Kill
By Lynne Born
International Socialist Review
The Bush administration's policies in the "war on terror"
are substantially enriching the pharmaceutical corporations while subjecting the public to dangerously explosive consequences.
The pharmaceutical industry spent over $262 million to
bring George W. Bush to power during the 2000 election cycle, investing more than any other industry to solidify their power
in both Congress and the White House.
The pharmaceuticals have recouped their investment many
times over as Bush has signed into law the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 and
Project BioShield. These laws are providing over $7 billion to develop and warehouse millions of doses of new vaccines and
drugs as "countermeasures" to biological weapons such as ebola, plague, anthrax and smallpox.
These new drugs and vaccines are exempt from the regular
approval process and can be fast tracked to market with no human testing at all, an unprecedented step for an industry already
responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths per year. The fact that the current system that produces "standard" pharmaceutical
drugs is the third leading cause of death in the United States has been completely overlooked in the rush to bring the pharmaceutical
industry into the biowarfare business.
While the drug companies would like us to believe that
these deaths are the unfortunate side effects of a careful and caring industry, they are actually the direct result of the
ways in which pharmaceuticals manipulate drug trials and skew research data to produce the positive efficacy and safety results
they need to bring new products to market.
Building a new class of drugs and vaccines on the foundation
of the current flawed and corrupt system, combined with the fact that the pharmaceuticals will be working with ever more infectious
and lethal biowarfare agents, has the potential to "fast track" the creation of catastrophic epidemics of the very diseases
they are attempting to prevent.
Pharmaceuticals profit from the Homeland
While the bioterrorism laws provide a new and guaranteed
income stream to the pharmaceuticals, Bush's Homeland Security Act of 2002 completes the giveaway by making any bioterror
countermeasures mandatory for the entire population of the United States at the sole discretion
of the president or the secretary of health and human services.
In combination with state laws titled Model Emergency
Health Powers Act (MEHPA), the government is authorized to quarantine, isolate, imprison or fine anyone who refuses to take
these untested drugs and vaccines. Detailed plans have already been drawn up by the Pentagon and Department of Defense to
use the military to enforce these compulsory injections and medical treatments, and state public health departments have used
portions of their bioterrorism budget to identify large sites such as stadiums, malls and cinemas to hold mass vaccinations.
Despite the creation of a massive new market paid for
with guaranteed government subsidies and exempt from the usual approval process, the pharmaceuticals pushed for and received
even more special treatment. The Homeland Security Act provides full liability protection for the vaccine manufacturers in
the first pilot program to be sponsored by Bush under the legislation, the smallpox vaccination program. This liability protection
was clearly needed, as the vaccine has caused a vastly higher rate of death and injury than was officially anticipated. But
with blanket liability protection, what incentives remain for the pharmaceuticals to develop biowarfare drugs and vaccines
that are safe for human use?
Dangers of "standard" pharmaceutical
The pharmaceutical industry already kills well over 100,000
people every year from correctly prescribed drugs in hospitals alone. This does not include deaths occurring outside the hospital
or from incorrectly prescribed medications, or the millions of disabilities each year. To further put this in perspective,
the death rate from illegal drugs is 20,000 per year; the initial death rate from the Union Carbide chemical disaster in Bhopal, India was
20,000; and 58,000 Americans died in the Vietnam War.
Contrary to what most people believe, drug companies,
not the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or independent researchers, finance and control virtually the entire process of
testing and bringing new drugs to market.
Because pharmaceutical companies finance the vast majority
of all drug trials, they design and structure the studies, select and pay researchers, choose the patients, analyze the test
results, closely oversee the writing and publication of the final studies and release the drugs through their massive sales
network to the medical profession. No independent source confirms or oversees the research, analysis or final conclusions.
The subjects of drug trials are generally young healthy
men, even though the target market for the drug may be women, children or the elderly. Many of the paid subjects are "regulars"
who supplement their income by hiding their participation in multiple drug trials when not enough time has passed for the
previous drugs to fully leave their systems.
The fraud begins at the onset of the drug trial, as drug
companies will frequently drop large numbers of subjects who show what the industry classifies as a "sensitivity" or "bad
reaction" to the drug. In other words, test subjects who experience exactly the kind of toxic reaction the trial is supposed
to be tracking are dropped from the results simply because it occurs early in the trial.
Drugs are frequently tested on much smaller numbers of
people and for shorter periods than is generally thought.
Psychiatric drug trials typically last only four to six
weeks, and no psychiatric drug has ever been shown (i.e., tested) to be safe for long-term use. In many drug trials, only
one or two dozen subjects actually finish the trial.
Doctors who regularly prescribe Prozac believed that the
drug had been tested on more than 10,000 patients before they prescribed it to their patients, a figure they had read in Eli
Lilly marketing material. In fact, Dr. Peter Breggin went to great lengths to count the actual number of patients who had
completed the trials and found the total number to be 286, a far cry from the thousands that the public had been led to believe.
While most people believe that a drug that gains FDA approval
has gone through many successful drug trials that have proven it to be substantially more effective than the placebo, in fact
the entire drug trial system works on a simple "pass/fail" basis.
When the company submits the trial results to the FDA
and the FDA finds the drug insufficient or even harmful and rejects it, the company can simply drop and manipulate portions
of data from the very same trial, submitting different permutations of the numbers over and over again until the FDA finally
accepts the drug. It takes only two successful trials, even with small numbers of patients, and includes trials that had been
previously rejected by the FDA but later passed with reworked numbers, for the FDA to approve a drug. And the drug does not
have to show a substantial benefit over the placebo, only that it is "marginally" better than the placebo.
Drug companies also systematically obscure adverse drug
reactions and even deaths that occur during the trials by simply deleting or mislabeling them in the data submitted to the
Suicides that occurred during the testing of Prozac were
systematically mislabeled as "no drug effect" or "depression," so that when the FDA examined the drug data, patient suicides
could not be found and counted.
Suicide was one of the first major problems encountered
when Prozac was released on the market, leading to multiple deaths and lawsuits. Most of the very symptoms fueling the current
debate about the dangers of anti-depressant drugs were known and documented by the drug companies during the trials, but the
drugs were released anyway.
Manipulating research results
Until 1991, 80 percent of drug testing was done by medical
university research departments, giving the pharmaceutical companies "brand names" such as Harvard or Stanford Medical School
to associate with their research data. Since the 1990s, however, the pharmaceutical companies are cutting costs by using commercial
for-profit centers to perform the majority of all drug testing.
It is well documented that if for-profit centers do not
produce positive results for pharmaceutical companies, the drug companies take their lucrative contracts to another of the
hundreds of competing centers.
An analysis of 70 studies of specific cardiac drugs showed
that 96 percent of authors with ties to the pharmaceutical company produced favorable results, while only 37 percent of independently
funded studies of the same drugs showed favorable results.
Additionally, many of these centers have been found to
have financial stakes in the outcome of their own trials, standing to benefit financially from a drug's approval and subsequent
marketing. Many have been sued for deaths and injuries that occurred during fraudulently structured drug trials after producing
poor quality data and using inadequately trained investigators to test drugs on subjects who were not informed of the drugs'
known dangers or told of the financial conflicts of interest.
Drug companies retain the right to stop the publication
of any study that does not show favorable results, including studies that show dangerous or deadly reactions.
Should a company-funded study show negative results, drug
companies have been known to delay the publication of the negative study, quickly fund a new study that produces a favorable
response and then publish only the positive results.
Dr. James O. Kahn conducted a study that concluded an
AIDS vaccine didn't work and had a multimillion dollar lawsuit initiated against him by the corporate funder of the study
after it tried unsuccessfully to block publication of the data. And since both negative drug data studies and information
on the frequency of these heavy-handed tactics are suppressed, we have no way of knowing how many drug studies with negative
results have been censored by the very pharmaceutical companies that sponsored them in the first place, even if the drug's
release ends up causing multiple injuries and deaths.
Adverse reaction reporting system designed to fail
Most people don't know that the release of a new drug
is actually the final phase of the drug trial-Phase IV. After the drug has been approved by the FDA, thousands and even millions
of patients taking the newly released drug are unknowingly participating in the largest, most poorly controlled medical experiment
in the world.
The fraudulent and deceptive practices of the pharmaceuticals
continue during Phase IV when adverse reactions of injury and death are supposed to be tracked and reported to determine if
the drug should be pulled from the market. However, not only is the adverse reporting system entirely voluntary, but 90-99
percent of all adverse reactions are never reported, according to the head of the FDA for most of the 1990s, David Kessler.
Imagine the true death rate if this fact were taken into
account. Forty percent of all doctors don't know that an adverse reporting system even exists. When a group of doctors was
studied to determine how many adverse reactions they reported, it was found that only 6 percent of all reactions were reported-and
these doctors knew that their rate of reporting adverse reactions was being monitored.
And no program or oversight of any kind exists to ensure
that reports made directly to the pharmaceutical companies are then reported to the FDA-the process is run entirely on the
On the rare occasions when adverse reactions are reported,
as much as 50 percent of the basic information, such age or sex, is simply left blank. Additionally, the reporting system
is divided into thousands of highly delineated classifications, such as "insomnia," "restlessness," "hyperactivity"-160 different
terms exist for central nervous system symptoms alone.
While it may be good science to have a record of all the
various gradations of side effects, this system artificially lowers the percentage of side effect occurrences so the FDA or
drug company can say that "less than 1 percent" suffer from any given symptom, making the probability of side effects seem
A more accurate use of the classifications would be to
tally related symptoms in a family of side effects, for example, adding together "insomnia, restlessness and hyperactivity"
for a total percentage of nervous system side effects that would result in higher but more accurate numbers. Eli Lilly classified
sexual side effects for Prozac as "decreased libido 1.6 percent, ejaculatory problems 1.9 percent, impotence 1.7 percent,"
etc., but if you add the numbers of sexual side effects together, the total is closer to 18 percent, a vastly higher number.
However, even those numbers are inaccurate, as subsequent studies of Prozac have shown the real percentage of sexual side
effects is between 50 and 70 percent of all users.
Although the number of dangerous effects and deaths are
vastly underreported by the drug companies, people notice the problems and stop taking their medications. Fifty to 75 percent
of patients quit taking their blood-pressure and cholesterol-lowering medications within one to two years, but the FDA and
drug companies keep no record of the vast numbers of patients who drop their medications due to adverse effects.
Marketing department controls drug recalls
These problems are built into the system itself, as the
pharmaceutical companies have used their considerable financial muscle to defang the FDA through their powerful congressional
lobby, reducing its role to a minimum.
Because it works on an honor system, the FDA simply assumes
that the drug companies are giving it accurate information. The FDA reviews only a small sample of data, asks a few questions,
rarely checks the original data from the trials, accepts the drug label as written verbatim by drug company executives, rarely
issues warnings of dangerous effects and has to be bullied and pushed by consumer groups into pulling a drug off the market,
even after multiple deaths have already occurred.
The obvious conclusion is that because drugs involve the
health and welfare of the public, reporting and tracking adverse drug reactions should be mandatory and all data from the
drug trials open to public scrutiny. Currently, only the laborious process of a Freedom of Information Act request will open
the drug trial data to the public. Even then, much of the information on adverse reactions or deaths is blacked out by the
drug companies as "proprietary trade secrets."
In a profound conflict of interest, as the marketing department
attempts to bring sales of a new drug to "blockbuster" status for potential billions of dollars per year, this same marketing
department is responsible for tracking and reporting any evidence of harm or death that would take their multimillion-dollar
investment off the market. Clearly, this is a system designed to fail with no incentive for change, since the end result has
been to produce massive profits for the pharmaceuticals, even at the expense of our lives.
Homeland Security: forced vaccinations and drugs
The existing dangers of standard pharmaceutical medicines
can only increase exponentially with the lack of human testing and fast track approval of the newly created class of bioterror
drugs and vaccines. Bush's Homeland Security Act allows any untested drug and vaccine to be forced on the public, making refusal
Along with the MEHPA laws20 and already existing public
health laws, the government is then authorized to enforce the quarantine of individuals and entire cities, confiscate property
from anyone who resists and take control of roads into and out of your city and state, in case anyone might try to leave town
to avoid being medicated or vaccinated. The government can also confiscate all communication devices such as telephones or
computers, and can seize your house, car, food, clothing and firearms.
The military is authorized to enforce the law, presumably
holding down anyone who resists vaccination and escorting resisters or those too ill to take the shots to jail or the quarantine
area for isolation, with the length of time to be determined by the state. An "actual" event of bioterrorism isn't even necessary;
a "potential" emergency will suffice, and the power to declare this emergency resides entirely with the secretary of health
and human services and the president.
Bush's smallpox debacle
The first program deployed through the draconian Homeland
Security Act was Bush's smallpox vaccination program. While not mandatory for civilians, vaccination was mandatory for military
personnel under threat of court martial, dishonorable discharge or jail.
With great fanfare, Bush announced that 500,000 health-care
workers would be vaccinated beginning in January 2003, to be followed shortly by 10 million emergency personnel. Right from
the start, hundreds of hospitals and health-care unions across the nation refused to participate, citing concerns about adverse
effects and compensation problems. By summer 2003, the program had ground to a halt.
Numerous states had suspended it due to the high number
of deaths and injuries and a lack of volunteers willing to subject themselves to the very real danger of the vaccine with
no credible threat of an actual smallpox attack.
While the public was repeatedly told that the expected
death rate from the vaccine would be one to two per million, in fact, there have been three deaths among the approximately
36,000 civilians vaccinated (including the few hundred embedded reporters). This makes the actual death rate 80 times higher
than what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told the public to expect.
Serious adverse reactions such as brain swelling, heart
inflammation, heart attacks, uncontrolled ulceration of the skin and more, are one in 583, seven times higher than the CDC's
original guesstimate of one in 4,000. It is virtually certain that even these numbers are vastly underreported since, once
again, the adverse reporting system for the program was not mandatory, mirroring the same shoddy and incomplete tracking system
that benefits the pharmaceutical industry.
Before the program began, many health-care professionals
expressed grave misgivings about reintroducing the live virus in the smallpox vaccine back into the population and accurately
predicted the higher rates of death and injury.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
has called the smallpox vaccine the most dangerous of all vaccines ever produced, because it contains a live virus of unknown
origin. In fact, while the virus in the vaccine is supposed to be cowpox, even the CDC admits that it is not.
Several independent labs have analyzed the vaccine and
cannot identify the virus, a terrifying fact that is actually verified by the CDC while simultaneously ignored by mainstream
Historically, the smallpox vaccine was responsible for
so many side effects and deaths during its use that a medical diagnosis "Vaccination Disease" was actually created during
the 1800s. Vaccination Disease was diagnosed when the vaccinated patient exhibited exactly the same kinds of skin, heart and
lung problems that we see today in Bush's vaccination program. These historical facts are readily uncovered from 200 years
of medical literature and were cited by the many voices expressing concern about reintroducing the smallpox vaccine into the
public body before the program began.
Bush and the CDC continue to deny the extent of deaths
and injuries even at the expense of people's lives, and the media began to minimize and censor the actual death and injury
rates only weeks after they occurred.
As the deaths followed one after another in March and
April 2003, headlines read "First death: Nurse dies after smallpox vaccination"; "Second worker dies of heart attack after
smallpox vaccination"; and "Coroner rules [smallpox] vaccinations contributed to reservist's death." Yet, by June 2003, mainstream
media articles were not only ignoring the earlier deaths, they continue to use the old, inaccurate figure of one or two deaths
per million rather than the newly updated, more truthful numbers.
Even if the program were to end, it is clear that the
pharmaceutical industry and the White House have invested considerable political capital in the future of smallpox vaccinations.
The first countermeasure, Project BioShield, calls for is the development of millions more doses of yet another smallpox vaccine.
Mysteriously, the National Institutes of Health is also
investing millions of dollars in eight to 10 additional treatments for smallpox itself, money that increases pharmaceutical
profits at the expense of the real, pressing and urgent health-care needs the public faces today.
Bad drugs on steroids
The deadly manipulation and fraud so prevalent in the
current pharmaceutical system could lead to explosive consequences when fewer safeguards, less testing and the intentionally
fraudulent adverse tracking system are combined with the terrible power of deadly pathogens such as ebola, plague and anthrax.
One of the many hazardous provisions of Project BioShield
calls for a massive expansion of America's biological and chemical warfare
production by building a network of several dozen new bioweapons laboratories all over the United States. This would turn pharmaceuticals into bioweapons factories, but without
the government oversight and safety regulations normally accorded these dangerous pathogens.
Because the pharmaceuticals will have to create and store
these infectious agents, it is the drug companies in partnership with the U.S.
government that are endangering the public, and a groundswell of resistance from the cities where the new labs are to be built
has already begun.
It is an unfortunate fact that the pharmaceutical companies
cannot protect us from chemical and biological warfare attacks. Any number of agents could be used, from simple small releases
of readily available chemicals to complex, genetically engineered viruses against which no vaccine could ever be created and
mass produced in time, even if the vaccines worked. The only effective way to reduce or end the threat of biological and chemical
attacks against the United States is to develop "right relations" with
other nations around the world by stopping America's
ceaseless march toward imperialist domination.
The next phase of the pharmaceutical "war on terror" will
take place in the media and the minds of the public, where more and more "emerging diseases" will be sensationalized in an
atmosphere of hysteria and fear, justifying the giveaway of billions of dollars to the drug companies.
From the recommendation of the smallpox vaccine for the
monkey pox outbreak when the vaccine has never been proven to stop monkey pox infection, or the quarantine of individuals
who had only a cough and a mild fever out of fear of SARS, every new cough can be classified as a deadly disease, and every
new fever will create fear of an unknown illness to move the public one step closer to acceptance of total vaccination or
force feeding of drugs never before tested on humans.
For Bush to purchase millions of doses of a 30-year-old,
untested, ineffective and deadly smallpox vaccine without even a threat of a smallpox attack, jeopardizing the lives of uninformed
citizens, is a criminal act of biowarfare directed against the American public.
Unfortunately, the next round of "protection from biowarfare
agents" may not be voluntary, and the newly created pharmaceutical war machine will needlessly drug the American public to
death for corporate profits.
Lynne Born is a longtime alternative health care activist,
writer and independent medical researcher.