Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I came across this article (L1) by Helen Epstein entitle “Flu Warning: Beware the Drug Companies”.

What I want to do here is simply relate the gist of it, and by doing that give you an opportunity to look at the Mania from a different perspective. I’ll explain that after I give the gist of the article here.

She starts by reminding us of the ‘swine flu’ scare of early 2009. In February of that year, Mexican authorities had noticed an increase in influenza cases and had forwarded samples of the virus to the US and Canadian government labs. It turned out to be a new variation on the H1N1 virus that had been responsible for the 1918 influenza epidemic that had killed tens of millions worldwide. While the H1N1 had never gone away, this strain looked like it was particularly aggressive. The World Health Organization (WHO) sent out an alarm that as many as 2 billion might become infected and millions might die. The World Bank chimed in that if that happened, the world’s GDP could be reduced by almost 5 percent.

The world duly took these major agencies at their word and panic ensued. Mexico shut down for all practical purposes and lost 2.2 billion dollars within 2 weeks. People flooded into emergency rooms merely because they were worried they might have it, and informational websites crashed from overuse.

Since this variant of the virus was based in pigs, and even though any direct pig-to-human infection was going to be rare, Egypt ordered the slaughter of all pigs (owned, neatly, by thousands of Christian small-farmers); in Afghanistan, marvelously, “the nation’s only pig was quarantined” (you can’t make this stuff up).

In early June, Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO, declared a “pandemic emergency”. Governments began placing huge and urgent orders for vaccine and a new stock-index category was introduced specifically so investors could track the profits of manufacturers. Maybe 10 billion was spent around the world, and 4 billion of that by the US government.

Yet in the 2009-2010 flu season, as it turned out, less people died (18,000) than during normal flu seasons, worldwide. And as Epstein notes – as she starts to Kick Tire – many of those had “serious underlying conditions, such as cancer, lung disease, AIDSA, or severe obesity, which can impair breathing”. In other words, even among the fatalities, there was no clear way to directly isolate the flu as the cause.  

While the WHO claimed it was simply working on the best information it had, governments stuck with huge supplies that they had purchased began to Kick some Tire themselves.

Consequently, in March 2010 a committee appointed by the Council of Europe concluded that “the H1N1 virus was known to be mild well before the WHO issues the pandemic ‘declaration’ and expressed concern about the influence of powerful pharmaceutical companies on the decision-making at the agency”.

This past March, a year later, the WHO responded by piously bleating that there should be more “transparency” in these things, but also brayed that “no critic of WHO has produced any direct evidence of commercial influence on decision-making”.

But there are a whole lotta dots that beg connecting.

During the ‘avian flu’ flare-up of 2003, “pandemic preparedness” led US and European governments to stockpile about 3 billion dollars worth of the drug Tamiflu, thought to inhibit the virus (at $15-16 a pop, few countries in Africa, Asia, or Latin America could afford the stuff).  Piously, the manufacturer of Tamiflu, joined by Ms. Chan, at that time only assistant director-general of WHO, urged the governments of the West to contribute to a stockpile fund for the poorer nations.

After the Mexican swine-flu flare-up had begun, another scramble for the drug ensued. In Korea, stunningly, major banks competed with the government to buy the stuff (as an investment opportunity?). Smaller governments took out loans from the World Bank to buy the stuff.

But almost a decade before, in Japan in 2002, Tamiflu had been widely prescribed and “it was there that the first signs of possible trouble with the drug first began to emerge”. Within mere hours of taking the drug, some children began exhibiting strange and in some cases fatal behavioral symptoms (jumping off apartment balconies, running out onto a freeway; and a 39 year-old father and his two boys died in their sleep).

Noticing this, a Japanese scientist named Hama started to look closely. In best ‘scientific’ style he realized that the flu itself could cause delirium and even death in severe cases, nor had the majority of persons taking the drug suffered known ill effects. BUT (in even more impressive scientific style) he examined the deaths more closely, and thus he discovered that the neurological symptoms differed from what influenza usually creates, and indeed resembled the type of damage symptomatic of overdosing on drugs that suppress the central nervous system (like Valium).

The Japanese government quickly commissioned its own study on children who had taken Tamiflu, and that study concluded that of its 2800 pediatric-influenza patients in the study, the number of hallucinations and assorted neuropsychiatric symptoms were no greater among those who had taken the drug than among those who hadn’t.

But Hama, an inveterate Kicker of Tire as every good scientist should be, did his homework going over the report and discovered numerous errors, including “misclassification” (a polite and neutral term for the government researchers having classified kids as not having taken the drug when it was clear from other evidence that they had). At this point the SO community can recognize that Old Deceiver, misclassification – so broadly and hugely deployed against ‘the sex offender’ (as if there were some entity that corresponded to it).

Hama went over the figures and concluded that Tamiflu-takers suffered four times the normal amount of symptoms. And a reporter, trying some Kicking of his own, found out that the government had assigned to its study two researchers who had received funding from the Japanese subsidiary of Tamiflu’s Swiss manufacturer.

After the 2009 “pandemic alert”  this got another doctor, a pediatrician named Hayashi,  concerned about whether he should be prescribing a drug with lethal side-effects to his young  patients, and when he started checking out all the independent studies that would normally have justified the drug and addressed the problem of possible side-effects he found  that there weren’t very many articles at all explaining any independent studies, and that “all of the research had been funded by” the Swiss manufacturer itself. (When one thinks of the number of Sex Offender ‘studies’, especially back in the day … ).

The most highly touted study was actually a company-funded one, presided over by a gentleman named Kaiser, that mixed various types of patients and treatment regimens until it was impossible to maintain the ‘randomness’ of the study so you could be sure your results weren’t influenced by external factors. The study concluded, cheeribly, that Tamiflu actually reduced various patients’ problems by up to 50 percent.

But Hayashi was bothered: while Kaiser’s ‘report’ about the drug was certainly breath-taking, it was also the only major article that Hayashi could find anywhere; Tamiflu’s entire reputation seemed to rest on just this one article by Kaiser and a few smaller pieces. Which is not the way things are supposed to work.

Then more researchers discovered that back in 1989, when the drug had originally been developed by an Australian biotech company who then quickly licensed it to a major British pharmaceutical company, government analysts were so worried about its propensity to worsen breathing problems (pneumonia is a common complication of influenza) while having little effect on the flu that the FDA’s  approving-panel voted against the drug (named Relenza) 13-4.

But one Heidi Jolson, then head of the FDA antiviral drug program, approved the drug anyway, ‘reasoning’ (as the term is used in these things) that even a little help was better than no help at all, and so many people were worked up about influenza.

Since Tamiflu was developed specifically to overcome the problems with Relenza, it was ‘fast-tracked’ by the FDA because, theoretically, the FDA had already approved the ‘parent’ drug. So whatever review of the clinical evidence there was going to be, it would be even less than the parent drug had received. The FDA even wound up admitting that it hadn’t paid much attention to the largest Tamiflu trial study, even though its officials knew of the existence of the study.

Neatly – and you never saw this in the SO Mania – the FDA then covered its own posterior quarters by requiring that Tamiflu had to display on its commercial packaging a label stating that “the drug has not been proven to reduce hospitalizations, complications, or deaths from influenza”. (WHY, then, approve the thing in the first place?)  

When independent researchers asked Kaiser for his original raw research data so they could independently verify the results, he said he “couldn’t find” the data, and said maybe they wanted to contact the Swiss manufacturer directly. That was done, and several months later there came in the mail not the original raw data, but a set of company-generated “research summaries” that basically said Kaiser was right and thank you and goodbye.

But – again unlike SO Mania ‘science’ – there are apparently international rules applying to this sort of thing, and since Questions had been raised formally by researchers, then Kaiser or somebody from that team had to respond, in a printed professionally-recognized journal, within six months. The UK and Australian governments also wanted to know (although I can’t imagine they were happy having to get involved).  

So in December 2009 an article duly appeared in the ‘British Medical Journal’ that basically said nobody could be sure if the drug really worked or not in the first place. And the company tossed in a letter promising to release “full study reports” really really soon.

The company actually did so right after New Year’s 2010, but it also released the material to a Harvard epidemiologist unconnected with the questioning researchers. And that gentleman quickly reported that the drug did reduce “lower respiratory tract complications” by 40 percent (but he did not address any other of the questioners’ concerns, such as “ambiguous definition” of “lower respiratory tract complications”. The SO community is very well acquainted with “ambiguous definition”.

Things got more suspicious when the parent company’s assertions that the drug had harmed no lab mice and rats were contradicted by its Japanese subsidiary’s lab reports that the drug had killed more than half the animals it had been administered to . And the questioners noted that the lab rats died of precisely the same central-nervous system suppression problems that Dr. Hama had first observed.

Epstein asks “How common are such discrepancies in the published medical literature?”. She reports that a study six years ago run by a School of Medicine in Greece (probably not a major player at the corporate-scientific buffet table) “found that nearly half of published articles in scientific journals contained findings that were false, in the sense that independent researchers couldn’t replicate them”.

The problem is especially serious in medical research, where what is reported as ‘truth’ and ‘fact’ can influence multibillion dollar decisions. And this is especially so because, Epstein reports, most of those journals receive up to half their advertising income from drug manufacturers.* Oh, and there is at least one major umbrella-publisher or owner of medical journals that also provides marketing services to drug companies.

And, on top of all that, there are actually companies that provide ‘ghostwriters’ who will whip up professional-looking ‘report articles’ for medical journals; Epstein surmises that when the questioning researchers were told by this or that author of a published supportive article that s/he didn’t have the raw data, it was not so much a dodge as the truth about an institutionalized dodge: the people writing these things never saw the data; they were just given ‘summaries’ and paid to write up an article that simultaneously plays up the dangers of influenza and the possibilities of Tamiflu.

When the parent company finally released its files to the questioning-researchers, the “detailed descriptions of the original methods used in the trials were missing … making it impossible to reconstruct how the research had been planned from the start, and whether that plan had been modified along the way”. Nor were there any detailed case histories of the patients involved.

Epstein herself tried what she figured was an oblique approach that might get around the block. She wrote to the parent company and explained that while for each of Kaiser’s studies it had released a table of contents containing 5 ‘modules’ or chapters, with the first being the summary and 2 through 5 containing the actual information all the independent researchers were (legitimately and necessarily) seeking. Yet each Kaiser packet only contained Module or Chapter 1 and the others were missing. Might she get the indicated Modules/Chapters that had not come with the Kaiser studies? Do they exist, she asked? And then, pointedly but politely said that “a simple Yes or No answer will do”.

The company rep replied with neither Yes nor No, but simply the assertion that the questioning researchers had all the information they needed.

Meanwhile, a noted and highly-placed British epidemiologist who also advised the government and personally warned the British public in 2009 that “only Relenza and Tamiflu” would “prevent a catastrophe on the scale of the 1918 influenza pandemic, was discovered to have been on the parent drug company’s payroll to the tune of 116,000 pounds a year. Although he has since stepped down as Rector of London’s Imperial College he still holds his government advisory position.

Epstein sums it all up by ticking off a stunning list of glaring issues: in the decade before 2009’s ‘pandemic’, scientists who were responsible for the WHO’s ‘pandemic preparedness’ programs were also receiving money from the very drug companies that would stand to make huge sums from ‘pandemic warnings’; company consultants worked with the (indentured) scientists to write the very guidelines that were incorporated into the WHO’s ‘pandemic preparedness’ programs; similarly indentured scientists were key players in the committee of the WHO that approved the issuing of a ‘pandemic declaration’.

And in the U.S., even the Center for Disease Control receives “grants” from the official consortium umbrella organization to which all of the major drug companies belong. The head of the CDC influenza lab, Nancy Cox, is also on the WHO’s Emergency Committee. And, Epstein notes in passing, the FDA increasingly relies on fees charged to the drug companies that make the drugs the FDA is supposed to regulate.

Well, that may be more than you wanted to know about this adventure in official drug-dealing.

A couple of points came to me about the SO Mania.

First, it would be interesting to look at the entire SO ‘complex’, the entire network of ‘interests’ that support it, from the same point of view as Epstein views the ‘complex’ of ‘interests’ that pull the strings of commercial drug sales and the government regulators and the indentured scientists who prostitute their authority for pay.

Second, it would be even more interesting if someone were to do the type of looking into the SO Mania Complex the way Epstein has done in regard to the pharmaceutical-government-science mobs.

Third, you can see how even with formal international regulations in place among professional medical and scientific organizations, strictly governing the conduct and publication of competent research trials and results, it was still possible to sidestep or slide-under the entire process, even when some hardy professional souls raised red flags. Imagine what a field day has been had in the SO Mania ‘science’ where there are no such governing protocols and where everybody knew that the government was behind the stampede 100 percent and so nobody would be called up on any carpets; and where so much of the ‘science’ and ‘research’ has been ‘anecdotal’ – meaning you simply stenograph whatever an interviewee chooses to tell you – and where so many of the ‘researchers’ have either been paraprofessional ‘care providers’ and ‘clinicians’ rather than genuine researchers, or have been book-writers who simply strung together ‘anecdote’ after ‘anecdote’, or in some few but influential cases have been formally accredited persons who felt that in such a good cause the best use of the authority of their position was simply to help move things along.

And, fourth, following from that, is that if all this skullduggery could take place in a relatively ‘hard’ science – medicine and drugs and physical diseases – imagine what a field day could be had in a ‘soft’ science such as psychology and that science’s exponentially softer sub-variant half-mutations like ‘traumatology, ‘victimology’, and all the rest of the shadowy mob of the SO Mania’s hobgoblin assertions, predictions and claims that are vividly thrust forward as unassailable fact.

Fifth, that the tried-and-true scams designed to twist and tailor ‘scientific’ findings are always the same: misclassification, hiding mix-and-switch variables, drawing your own desired conclusions when the data doesn’t support them, changing definitions and/or changing them without saying so, using vague definitions, or – the true fetid earth from which poisoned fruit grows – using ‘stories’ as established facts, even to the point where the stories are considered more important than any serious and accurate research.**

Sixth, that some of the most significant government players in this official drug scam have been females, holding high positions, which puts paid to any blather about the world bound to be a better place once ‘the men’ are moved aside. And to top that off, many of the dead resulting from this scam were children. As were, say, the kids in the Waco compound whom Janet Reno said were being abused and she had to stage a paramilitary assault to rescue them; in an eerie replay of an earlier blood-soaked historical moment in American history, a female in command of armed personnel destroyed children in order to save them. Funny how the historical night moves.

So it would be interesting to see, some day, a similar article or book tackling the formation and standard operating dynamics of the SO Mania in all of its various aspects and the deeds and misdeeds of its many component ‘interests’. I’m thinking that such an analysis would reveal very much the same kind of stuff that Helen Epstein has discovered in the pandemic-drug scam.

If the money runs out at the Beltway level, much of the sex-offense-industry complex will soon enough wither away. But the laws – toxic in themselves – will still be on the books, and the legislative and jurisprudential ‘philosophy’ that enabled them will remain in the heads of far too many legislators and jurists (filed away for use again, perhaps, some day, if it’s necessary and possible to raise up some new Monster to titillate and distract public attention).

The money may run out sooner rather than later. Even if the government resolves its current budget disagreements, overseas investors are already beginning to wonder if The Dollar is still the same sturdy, robust, trusty Thing it used to be. (Much like some folks have been wondering if the Republic and the Constitutional ethos themselves are still the great beacons of yore.) If they decide not to buy US Treasury bills, which is how so much of the current national debt is being funded, then it won’t matter how many gazillions of greenbacks the presses print up.

But the awful canker that the SO Mania Regime has so invasively planted in the heart of the national psyche and soul will not go away – cannot go away – even if the money gives out and the whole Regime is simply abandoned like a movie set when the studio is suddenly foreclosed. As happened in Salem 320 years ago, the community will have a hard time facing what it had so lustily cheered on. And that is not going to be a type of ‘stress’ that can be removed with some psychoactive pills or a ‘re-framing of the Narrative’.

Worse, perhaps as things go from bad to worse for the country, people will look for scapegoats (there’s ample historical precedent just in the past few centuries alone). And if the Sex Offender is not given a fresh jolt of electricity and revived as the Monster Responsible For It All, then some other group might well be stitched together, and the old Mania Regime might burst forth with fresh, curdling life.

We still have a lot of work that remains to be done.


*The defense-industry is probably another Big Player that exerts such control over publications and articles and reports on new weapons systems and platforms. Although so much of that research is – neatly – classified that few independent verifiers can ever get to review it.  

**Let me say here that ‘formulating Narrative’ as a meaning-making capacity of the human mind is a profoundly vital human capacity. Current PTSD work in the military – trying desperately to deploy psychology to counter the stunning amount of dysfunction prevalent among the deployed troops in the current war(s) – now acknowledges that such human capacity to ‘make sense of’ one’s experiences, to fit them into some coherent framework of meaning, is utterly essential to healthy human functioning.

The deeper challenge, of course, is to formulate not simply a coherent meaning-framework Narrative, but to formulate an accurate one as well; that is to say, to formulate a meaning-framework that does correspond to the reality of your situation and your experiences. This was the point where Freud began to realize that he simply couldn’t take his patients ‘reports’ and ‘memories’ at face value, even when it seemed that the ‘story’ the patient had come up with seemed to provide a certain amount of comfort. After all, the classic ‘Napoleons’ who used to fabulously inhabit the old insane asylums were quite content that they were indeed the late Emperor; the early 1900s anti-saloon activist Carry Nation (she went into the said establishments with an axe in frontier Kansas and ‘smashed them up’ literally) recounts in her autobiography that her mother, also an inhabitant of the frontier West of the late 1800s, went through most of her adult life in the sure and certain knowledge  that she was Queen Victoria, and had a carriage, footmen, and outriders with trumpets attired in suitable livery to announce her arrival; her husband could afford it and it was before the time of psychiatry.

If, however, a soldier’s difficulty is not ‘stress’ from combat but – hardly improbable in unconventional warfare – from guilt for some act or acts committed, then ‘re-framing’ or ‘re-formulating’ may not ultimately be effective and indeed in the long run may be injurious to the soldier-patients.

The same dynamic has to be considered as a possibility in the assorted consciousness-raising and recovery ‘therapy’ that simply encourages a sufferer to embrace the desired ‘victimization’ formulation as the ‘explanation for everything’ wrong in his/her life or self. It gives the patient an almost immediate sense of meaning as well as a sense of innocence (it’s not my responsibility, it’s fill-in-the-blank), elicits immediate approval from the ‘therapist’, and entitles the patient to enter the warm and welcoming ranks of many others who have embraced the same formulation. (There’s an element of Night of the Living Dead to the whole thing, if you ask me.)

And when you THEN get the legal system to accept the ‘therapeutic’ standard of evidence (which is very low since therapy isn’t designed to discover sufficient fact so as to be able to justify the sovereign imposition of a court finding upon an accused party) then you have really set up a hellish situation for everybody involved.

No comments:

Post a Comment