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Did Flu Drug Companies Perpetuate a Billion Dolllar Scam Around the World?

More than just another scandal caused by corporate dishonesty, this is also the story of government incompetence or even collusion.

by
Theodore Dalrymple

Bio

April 18, 2014 - 9:00 am
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One of the few laws of political science is that when governments make mistakes, they tend to be whoppers. Luckily for them, the public’s memory is short, and the outrage of today soon declines into the apathy of tomorrow.

From several articles published in a recent edition of the British Medical Journal, it appears that many governments around the world, including those of Britain and the U.S., may have made such a mistake in stockpiling billions of dollars’ worth of anti-flu medications, bought principally from Roche, the largest pharmaceutical company in the world as measured by capitalization.

First the governments overestimated the virulence of the new flu epidemic the drugs were supposed to counter, no doubt a forgivable mistake in the circumstances; but then it stockpiled the  supposedly anti-flu drugs on the basis of inadequate evidence. It took published studies at face value without apparently realizing that the drug companies had withheld a great deal of data – 150,000 pages of it, as it turned out. When, after what seems like a rear-guard action to prevent it, the drug companies released all the data, re-calculation showed that the drugs were not quite useless, but had practically no value from the public health point of view. At best they reduced the duration of symptoms by a few hours and in some cases prevented the development of symptomatic disease. But they also caused serious side effects, and neither prevented deaths nor serious complications nor the rate of hospitalization. They did not prevent the spread of the infection either.

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All Comments   (23)
All Comments   (23)
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As in all things we hear like this (Gov't/Corp cronyism), follow the money. Besides the pharm company and it's paid salesman, who in the government gained from this scam? Kickbacks or campaign contributions?
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hmmmm. Good point.

Gardisil. Perry. Questions.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
The questions would be worthwhile, except HPV really is prevented by the vaccine, and if enough people get it, then the disease goes away, same as with smallpox.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
All of that is completely beside the point.


HINT: It's the corruption, stupid.

See also, basic principles of limited government.


34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
As to your headline, let's hope that the companies didn't "perpetuate" the scam! Wouldn't that imply that the scam will never go away?
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh, by the way, the short answer: Yes, they did.

34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
I am confused. The article starts off very interesting and informative, but seems to totally come apart at the seams in the end.

We are reading about Japanese pediatrician Keiji Haysahi's criticism of the report and there is suddenly a very interesting but non sequitur video interview with Camille Paglia about Susan Sontag's irrelevance in modern day feminism. That is immediately followed by another irrelevant statement about Susan Sontag and then back to Haysahi.

It then ends with an absurd comment about an oxycontin ad.

Did someone forget to take their meds today... or maybe take too much and they just kicked in before the article was finished?
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
I too was confused by the reference to Susan Sontag.

There was a sedgway from the the influenza treatment to the oxycontin. The article on the infiuenza treatment was next to an oxycontin advert. If the drug companies give incomplete information on both anti-flu medications and oxycontin what else are they holding out on us? the author could have tied up the last paragraph better to make that point.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
I thought it was just me that felt like I dropped into a different article half way through.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...a mistake in stockpiling billions of dollars’ worth of anti-flu medications, bought principally from Roche, the largest pharmaceutical company in the world as measured by capitalization."

Tamiflu ? Word on the street was that you had to literally take it in the first hours of illness for it to even possibly have any effect at all. Which, even at that, it probably did not.

It is (or was recently anyway ) advertised on US television.

"...re-calculation showed that the drugs were not quite useless, but had practically no value from the public health point of view."

That was known at the time the US government stockpiled Tamiflu. Or at least I knew it. (reports coming out of where there were cases of bird flu ? China ? that Tamiflu had no effect)

Some years before, over another health scare that did not materialize, the US government stockpiled the very expensive antibiotic Ciprofloxacin, also to the tune of millions & perhaps billions of dollars.

Like all antibiotics, Cipro has a shelf life, and I've always wondered how the US govt. disposed on those millions of unused doses.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
If they "had withheld a great deal of data – 150,000 pages of it," why are there not criminal fraud charges pending?

The last two paragraphs make me distrust the entire article. They are the sort of things you see in tinfoil hat quack medicine articles. Dead from side effects or by druggies ODing?

I'm checking this out with my more reliable sources.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
The folks making the money define the relevance rules. The flu is not the only hoax working under the relevance rules of monetized politicized "science".
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
I never quite groked just how one was supposed to use Tamiflu, in this day and age who wakes up with a sneeze and jumps right to the doctors office? And now learning it does barely any good even if you do? If there were a pandemic, would it make sense to have everyone in town take it as a prophylactic? I dunno.

I do know well how the big pharms are very dishonest about publishing data to get new drugs approved. We all realize this is because of the honking huge money involved, and yet what is the point of all this science only to cheat on the final?
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
I actually have some sympathy for the governments here, a rare thing for me. They depend on the advice of doctors and scientists to guide them in these things. I seemed like the right decision at the time, I guess.

On the wider subject of flu shots in general, I have weathered winters much better since getting a flu shot every year. I used to assume I was getting colds every winter, now I think I was getting the flu. I haven't had any recurrence of those "colds" since I started getting the flu shots. They work for me.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
I dunno about sympathy for the government, but I agree with taking the Flu shots.

Nearly every year of my adult life I have been laid up with a flu during the winter. After being diagnosed with Diabetes in 2005, my doctors recommended I get flu shots every year. I occasionally feel a bit under the weather with colds, but haven't come down with the Flu and rarely miss any work in the winter any more.

I haven't read anything yet that would cause me to stop taking flu shots.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Good choice. Bear in mind that each year's flu shot combines the three strains that epidemiologists believe will be most prevalent in Winter, based on the previous Spring's demographics. Often there's an overlap with the previous year's inoculations, and you do tend to retain some immunity from your previous injections. Knowing this I got flu shots in alternate years, with good results. However, as one gets older one's immune defenses get weaker, and so recently I switched to an annual shot. However, improvements are coming down the road, with an inoculation offering long term immunity in prospect.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nope. I'm not buying it for one second.

They have been led around by the nose often enough that they are without excuse. They should know by now that they need to ask a lot of questions.

We don't send them to Washington to be professional dupes.

35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
I haven't had a flu shot since my Army days. There has never been one that provided a favorable risk/benefit ratio.

Don't drink the Kool-Aid, folks.

Oh, by the way, the Canadian government didn't jump on the flu vaccine bandwagon the last few years. Instead, they recommend vitamin D, which is far more effective than these flu shots, and have far fewer side effects. In fact, unless you do something really stupid, they don't have ANY side effects.

35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
You probably know that sun exposure on the skin (can be minimal, 15 min/day) is the best stimulus for the body's own vitamin D making mechanism.

Next is natural food sources and, I think, supplements in the form of pills come in third.

34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Vitamin D seems to work for me too. I used to have two or three colds every winter, until I started taking it, usually between 50 to 100 micrograms. Now it has been seven or eight years since last time I had a cold. I haven't even had mild ones.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
AMEN...Vitamin D is INDEED a far better solution. Most are deficient in it anyway & it safeguards against a host of health issues, not just the flu. Since I stated taking Vitamin D (2,500 units per day,) I rarely get sick & when I do it's never severe. Unlike my last flu shot which made me sick as a dog. My BFF got a flu shot in 2008 (for the 1st time in many years) & "the bug" wasn't dead. It lodged in her inner ear & caused her to go deaf in her left ear & to develop vertigo. I know of one other woman who was paralyzed from the neck down from the flu shot...no thank you!! I will use "natures remedies".
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
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