News broke yesterday about a heart attack vaccine that can “stop heart attacks.” According to the article, this vaccine “stimulates the body’s immune system to produce antibodies which prevent heart disease by stopping fat building up in the arteries.” According to the article, the vaccine could be here in five years.
While such a heart attack vaccine certainly sounds promising and I I’m excited at the prospect of a heart attack-free world, the past conduct of the pharmaceutical industry makes me doubt that this cardiac utopia will be as rosy as the article predicts. As described in The Truth About the Drug Companies, by Dr. Marcia Angell, former Editor-in-Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, and in the lecture footage from Dr. Beatrice Golomb, Associate Professor of Medicine at UC San Diego, the pharmaceutical industry is fraught with deception and misrepresentation.
As Dr. Angell states, the pharmaceutical industry is “an industry that over the past two decades has moved very far from its original high purpose of discovering and producing useful new drugs. Now primarily a marketing machine to sell drugs of dubious benefits, this industry uses its wealth and power to co-opt every institution that might stand in its way, including the U.S. Congress, the Food and Drug Administration, and the medical profession itself.” In her lecture, Dr. Golomb describes a systematic pattern of deception and fraud, perpetrated by pharmaceutical companies, in virtually every aspect of research, publication, and marketing.
Accordingly, the skeptic in me fears that the true lifecycle of the heart attack vaccine might be more along these lines…
Heart Attack Vaccine Lifecycle?
- The carefully crafted, “unbiased” clinical study will prescreen participants to ensure that only those without sensitivity to the vaccine are permitted in the trial.
- The results of the clinical trial will be mixed, with some trial groups showing an increased heart attack risk, some showing no change in risk, and one group will show that the vaccine reduces the heart attack risk of trial participants from 1:200,000 to 1:100,000.
- Those conducting and reporting on the trials will be “guided” by the pharmaceutical company overseers to ignore groups showing increased or unchanged risk.
- The group that showed reduction from 1:200,000 to 1:100:000 risk will be reported as a 50% reduction in heart attack risk (relative risk reduction) instead of 0.001% reduction in heart attack risk (absolute risk reduction). Few will notice or care about the difference. Headlines will trumpet “New vaccine reduces heart attack risk by 50%!”
- With prolonged use, the vaccine will cause massive damage to the immune system, causing AIDS-like symptoms in some, scleraderma in others, plagues of boils in still others, and some will have hives 23 hours per day, but only on their genitals. In tabulating the trial results, however, affected individuals will be divided into enough categories that the number of those affected by each malady is low enough that the numbers will escape attention.
- “Independent” journal articles, written by the pharmaceutical company but with paid, yet uninvolved, industry experts on the byline, will paint a glowing picture of the vaccine’s effectiveness.
- The same information, slightly massaged by removing or altering some data, will be released four or five times as though they were a separate studies, when it’s really just a repackaged version of the same exact study. This will quite effectively create the illusion that half a dozen independent studies show the vaccine to be effective.
- A multi-billion dollar ad campaign will convince every physician and layperson out there that this vaccine is akin to the second coming of Christ. Endless commercials in every conceivable medium will ensure that the message is lost on nobody.
- Politicians, whose campaigns were funded all or in part by the pharmaceutical companies, will ensure that this vaccine is mandated through various public health agencies “for the public good.”
- Billions upon billions of dollars will flow, while 1:100,000 people, at best, benefit from the reduced heart attack risk, while the 999,999:100,000 remaining will suffer the side-effects and economic burden of yet another wonder drug that’s cloaked in deception and fraud. The picture could be even more bleak as countless people decline even further into a heart disease-promoting lifestyle, reassured by the false promise of a heart attack vaccine.
- Meanwhile, countless physicians, bloggers, health advocates, and independent researchers will be shouting until they’re blue in the face about the baseless claims and dangerous side effects of the vaccine. Unfortunately, the onslaught of biased reporting and influence peddling ensures that their protests fall upon deaf ears.
- The patent on the vaccine is extended countless times by the pharmaceutical company who is granted an automatic 30-month extension to their patent exclusivity each time they file an infringement lawsuit against generic manufacturers, no matter how baseless or trivial their case.
- Finally, the FDA soft peddles the truth by releasing a statement that the vaccine’s effectiveness MAY, among certain groups, be lower than was indicated by the original pharmaceutical disclosures, and that there are some additional side-effects that physicians should be aware of. Coincidentally, this warning is released the same year that the patent on the vaccine expires and product was about to become generic anyway and by this time the pharmaceutical company has made approximately $15 billion per year on the vaccine, through initial inoculations and boosters.
- DOJ attorneys will spend hundreds of millions in tax dollars building a case that the pharmaceutical company misrepresented the medication. They’ll end up fining the drug company 5 billion dollars, which the drug company will happily pay, considering they’ve made nearly 1/3 of a trillion dollars to date on the vaccine. Criminal charges will also be brought for misrepresenting the drug and collecting payments from Medicare for the covered vaccines.
- Because companies convicted of defrauding the government cannot do business with the government any more, the drug company will immediately form a separate company and convince the DOJ to find the new company guilty of criminal acts. After the dust settles, the sacrificial company will be shut down and the original drug company will continue business as usual.
When I’m not being so cynical, I recognize that the pharmaceutical companies have undoubtedly saved countless lives and improved the quality of life for millions. It’s difficult, however, to witness the commentary of knowledgeable insiders like Dr. Angell, Dr. Golomb, and countless others who paint a picture very much like the one I’ve satirized above and not feel skeptical when hearing breaking news of a new pharmaceutical wonder drug.
It’s unfortunate that the tainted record of the pharmaceutical industry casts doubt on what might be a promising vaccine.