By Dr. Mercola
Five years ago, political lobbyist Jack Abramoff shocked the nation when, in a 60-Minute Report, he revealed just how corrupt the U.S. political system really is. As it turns out, it’s actually worse than most critical outsiders could have imagined.
Now, the downfall of yet another high-powered corporate lobbyist is shedding light on tactics used to promote drug industry interests.
Other recent news reveals how the CDC uses scare tactics to incentivize people into getting an annual flu shot — despite studies repeatedly showing that flu shots have been from zero to less than 50 percent effective in preventing type A or B influenza over the past decade.1
For this flu season, the CDC estimates the vaccine has failed about 60 percent of the time to prevent infection with the most prevalent A strain circulating this year.2
The Rise and Fall of a Roche VP
In “The Rise and Fall of a K Street Renegade,” published in The Wall Street Journal,3Brody Mullins details the suspected wrongdoings of Evan Morris, who at age 27 became a top Washington lobbyist for Roche Holdings AG, one of the largest drug companies in the world.
In July, 2015, he came under federal investigation, suspected of embezzling millions of company dollars through various schemes. Part of Morris’ genius was his ability to capitalize on and shape public sentiment through the use of media, advertising, opinion polls, focus groups and the creation of front groups.
According to Mullins, “He sponsored nonprofits that engaged in letter-writing campaigns and organized patient groups that demanded Medicare reimbursement for his firm’s drugs.”
When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considered banning the cancer drug Avastin, Morris created the non-profit group, Patient Care Action Network. Morris recruited doctors and patients who then did Morris’ work for him, urging their congressional representatives to oppose the FDA.
How Morris Turned Tamiflu Into a Blockbuster Drug
In the article, Mullins also reveals how Morris made Roche’s influenza drug Tamifluinto a massive blockbuster by seeding and feeding public fear during the 2005 avian flu outbreak:
“Roche produced the leading treatment, a pill called Tamiflu. Sensing opportunity, Mr. Morris adopted an emerging lobbying tactic: build support among a lawmaker’s constituents to supplement the traditional glad-handing of elected officials with dinners and campaign donations.
Mr. Morris contracted consultants who promoted news stories that stoked fears about an avian-flu outbreak. The goal was to sell more Tamiflu.
In October 2005, 32 Democratic senators wrote a letter to President George W. Bush expressing their ‘grave concern that the nation is dangerously unprepared for the serious threat of avian influenza.’
Within weeks, Mr. Bush created an emergency stockpile of avian flu treatments that eventually included more than $1 billion worth of Tamiflu pills. His administration offered subsidies that led to millions of dollars of additional Tamiflu sales to state governments.”
Reported Flu Deaths — Another Giant PR Sham
While we’re on the topic of fearmongering to boost corporate profits, a paper4 published in the BMJ in 2005 by Peter Doshi deserves a second look. In it, Doshi argues U.S. flu death figures are based more on PR mandates than actual science.
“U.S. data on influenza deaths are a mess,” he writes. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledges a difference between flu death and flu associated death yet uses the terms interchangeably.
Additionally, there are significant statistical incompatibilities between official estimates and national vital statistics data. Compounding these problems is a marketing of fear…”
According to the CDC, about 36,000 Americans die from influenza each year. This statistic is reiterated by most mainstream media sources and government health officials, thereby impressing you with the suggestion that if you or someone you care about gets influenza, you are likely to die from it.
The answer, they say, is to make sure you get vaccinated at the onset of flu season each and every year.
Rarely does anyone question this 36,000-annual flu death number. But everyone really should. As noted by Doshi, the “CDC states that the historic 1968-9 “Hong Kong flu” pandemic killed 34,000 Americans. At the same time, CDC claims 36,000 Americans annually die from flu. What is going on?”
Indeed, is the annual death toll from influenza really GREATER than the well documented 1968-69 influenza pandemic? The answer is no, and Doshi goes on to reveal a number of statistical tricks used to artificially inflate influenza death numbers.
How Influenza Death Numbers Are Inflated
For starters, the CDC bundles influenza and pneumonia deaths together, even though influenza is by far not the sole cause of pneumonia. To quote Doshi:
“David Rosenthal, director of Harvard University Health Services, said, ‘People don’t necessarily die, per se, of the [flu] virus … What they die of is a secondary pneumonia. So many of these pneumonias are not viral pneumonias but secondary [pneumonias].’
But … Rosenthal agreed that the flu/pneumonia relationship was not unique. For instance, a recent study5… found that stomach acid suppressing drugs are associated with a higher risk of community acquired pneumonia, but such drugs and pneumonia are not compiled as a single statistic.”
In other words, anyone dying from pneumonia — whether contracted as a result of influenza infection, post-surgical complication, the side effect of acid blocker use or any other reason — end up being reported as a “flu death.”