By Richard Gale and Gary Null Ph.D.
Modern Medicine and Big Pharma. Healthcare Crisis in America.
This year will likely mark another milestone in science and medicine. Again, Americans will spend more money on diagnostic tests, surgeries and other medical procedures, and patients will consume more drugs and receive more treatments than any other time in US history. We will continue to be inundated with television drug advertisements with the reassuring message, “you don’t have to fight this battle alone. We are with you.” There will be images of laboratories, medical research and happy patients to strengthen viewers’ faith that medical science is progressing and working on our behalf. We will be promised that new cures for life-threatening diseases are on the horizon.
The US will also spend a minimum of $3.5 trillion on healthcare, in addition to a $1.5 trillion loss in work and wages due to illness. Five trillion dollars total. Approximately 18 percent of the US GDP. And tens of millions of additional dollars will be spent advertising Big Pharma’s message.
And herein lies the fundamental problem. There are more doctors, more hospitals, more pharmaceutical drugs and medical procedures than ever before and yet we have not conquered nor made any significant progress in curing any major disease. Instead of making efforts to fund disease prevention and educate the public, prevention has been abandoned altogether. There are volumes of excellent peer-reviewed studies documenting research and clinical experience showing a healthy diet, physical exercise and stress management regimens can either completely prevent or be incorporated into medical treatment protocols successfully. However, there is no profit to be made in prevention. Modern medicine is solely devoted to disease management.
How did we reach this threshold where trillions of dollars have been tossed into an abyss? One reason is that few voices have been able to reach the public to address the widespread corruption in corporate science, especially medicine, agriculture, and environmental issues. Honest, independent science is ignored in favor of proprietary pharmaceutical drugs and genetically modified foods. Fraudulent research has been used to justify nuclear power as a clean green energy. Political officials working on behalf of fossil fuel interests convince us with junk science that hydro-fracking poses no health risks and is environmentally-friendly.
A single Big Pharma corporation with thousands of employees and billions of dollars in sales and profits is deeply connected to investors, public relations firms, federal health officials and the media. All of these external invested parties are in turn dependent upon the corporation’s revenue stream. Money that is trickled down is spent to dominate medical schools to push the conventional drug agenda’s regime, or to front groups and foundations to buy off so-called experts to debunk critics. Revenues received by the mainstream media networks for drug advertisements are payoffs assure that no reporting appears that might put the company and its medical products into a bad public light.
The benefit Big Pharma receives from hijacking the federal regulators and legislators is protection from the nation’s judiciary. So when a drug like Merck’s anti-arthritic Vioxx conservatively kills over 60,000 patients and injures an additional 130,000, there is no immediate FDA recall and deaths are permitted until the crisis reaches a tipping point and health officials are forced to step in. However, never is a drug executive prosecuted. Vioxx sales earned $18 billion and Merck only had to pay a $5 billion settlement. Everyone who knew Vioxx was a defective product had engaged in malice of forethought with no deleterious consequences. The company merely paid a fine and returned to business as usual. And the media simply whitewashed the seriousness of Merck’s crimes about Vioxx.
Science creates artificial intelligence, geoengineering, and 5G wireless technology. These are held as great achievements. On the other hand, we never hear from mainstream media anything about their downsides; and certainly private corporations will never leak evidence for their risks and dangers. If a scientific invention appears in the peer-reviewed literature, it has already reached a gold standard. Any controversy has been settled. However, now we find that the entire peer-reviewed journal system is utterly corrupt. In fact, as we will recount, it is all a fraud, and it will worsen without any efforts made to reform it. Quite simply there is no concerted will nor ethical standard to improve the peer-reviewed system because too much profit is generated.
Now drugs are being pushed upon healthy people not because it will treat a disease, but because we are told it will prevent a disease. Such is the case for new HIV prevention drugs, such as Truvada and PrEp, and statins. There is no definitive science that these drugs are effective enough for anyone to take them. Imagine being healthy and told that starting chemotherapy will prevent cancer. That would be insane.
And now we discover that the world’s largest open source site for medical information is Wikipedia. Content about medical products and therapeutic regimes are penned by completely unqualified editors with no medical background, many who prefer to remain anonymous. Yet Wikipedia editors state with authority that there are no proven health benefits for non-conventional and natural medical therapies. Reading any Wikipedia entry about chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy, Chinese medicine, naturopathy or energy medicine, the reader will walk away believing it is all pseudoscience or fraud. However, collectively there are hundreds of thousands of studies to support these therapies’ efficacy and safety. Legitimate scientific inqury has already shown their efficacy. Independent board-certified physicians have been using complementary and alternative medicine for a long time with excellent results. But you will not find any of these qualified physicians being invited to lead a committee at the FDA, CDC or any other national health agency or department. Nor do we find special reports about successful advances in natural health regimens appearing on Dateline, Sixty Minutes, CNN, nor in the New York Times and Washington Post.
So where excactly in the cesspool of modern medicine, food science, and the agro-chemical industry are we to find truth. No one in the scientific and federal health agencies can be trusted anymore. They are all compromised. No mainstream journalist is trustworthy, and no one can be certain whether a paper appearing in a peer-reviewed science journal is reliable or not. Even the clinical physicians on the front lines of healthcare work in the dark. It is only after large numbers of deaths and injuries, such as with Agent Orange, DDT, aspartame, mammography, etc, that a light goes on. But only for a short time before returning to the dark.
Our research shows that the majority of pharmaceutical corporations have settled laws suits, some are described in this article.
Reports suggest that 440,000 people in the US died as a result of medical errors.(see below). Our analysis suggests that death from iatrogenic related causes is significantly higher.
How is it that the pharmaceutical industry and medical establishment has killed more Americans than those who died in Vietnam without any serious consequences? Now wrap your mind around this. If we take a conservative figure of preventable deaths from medicine, 500,000 per year during the last four decades, that would account for approximately 20 million deaths. That is more than all those killed in wars throughout America’s history.
The reason for American medicine turning into the nation’s largest and deadliest battlefield is because for scientific corruption succeed without impunity, everything must be interconnected. The Surgeon General, the heads of federal health agencies, drug makers, the insurance industry, medical schools and professional associations, and the media operate as a single army waging a war on health against Americans. Corporate interests control everything. Modern medicine has morphed into a religious cult. which does not contemplate the potential of its own vulnerabilities. And numerous patients have been played for fools. As we will see, medicine profits from keeping patients sick.
We understand that you may be confused about this message because it goes directly against everything the medical establishment tells us. The fact is that science is completely vulnerable to corruption, and this has more often than not always been the case. Private industry and government know this perfectly. The checks and balances between private and public interests have collapsed. Today, a sincere person who whistleblows on government and corporate malfeasance and crimes can find him or herself going to jail. The medical regime is now a single entity. All of its parts are consolidated and entwined into a monolithic behemoth to prevent injury to its bottom line.
Is it not time we said “enough.”
When we consider Marx’s statement that “history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce,” it requires little effort to look back upon history and witness a long legacy of scientific horrors and tragedies. Yet today, matters have worsened. Ever since the Rockefellers privatized American healthcare back in the 1930s, science in the hands of powerful private interest groups and corrupt government agencies has spiraled downward to its current state today: a sad and virulent spectacle of burlesque.
If medical corruption had been conducted with the results of vastly improved health in the nation, we might close our eyes. However, as corruption throughout the medical establishment and federal health agencies increases, so has the health of the nation substantially decreased. The monster the Carnegie Foundation unleashed in its Flexner Report to set the standard for medical education back in 1910 has since opened its jaws wider to swallow the little integrity that might remain in American medicine. The nation’s health statistics and annual rise in preventable diseases proves the case.
The US is the world’s most medicated country and yet ranks at the bottom of the pack of developed nations for quality of health. It is also the only nation in the developed world with the average lifespan in decline. A Consumer Report survey estimates that 55 percent of Americans regularly take a prescription drug, and among those most take four drugs on average. In 2016, over 4.5 billion prescriptions were filled, earning the pharmaceutical industry over $200 billion. An earlier estimate conducted and published by the Mayo Clinic found that 70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug and over 50 percent are on two. Twenty percent of patients are on five or more. Over 17 percent of citizens 45 years and older take antidepressants, including one in four women. A multi-year population-based survey conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago found that 32 percent of adults diagnosed with depression were taking medications with depression listed as an adverse effect! These drugs include proton pump inhibitors, analgesics, beta blockers and synthetic hormone contraceptives.
For anyone who cares to take a broad, objective and panoramic view of the illnesses plaguing the American landscape, the situation will be found shocking. Clearly it needn’t be this way. Most people enter the sciences for noble reasons and because of a passion for discovery. So then why do they so often emerge out of the end of the institutionalized treadmill as proponents of products that create more harm than good?
The Dismal State of Modern Science
There have been prophetic voices in the past who have warned about the travesty modern scientific advancement is headed. In his 1924 essay “Icarus or the Future of Science,” the British mathematician and moral philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote,
“I am compelled to fear that science will be used to promote the power of dominant groups, rather than to make men happy. Icarus, having been taught to fly by his father Daedalus, was destroyed in his rashness. I fear that the same fate may overtake the populations whom modern men of science have taught to fly.”
Later in his essay Bertrand continues,
“whether, in the end, science will prove to have been a blessing or a curse to mankind, is to my mind still a doubtful question.”
For Russell, those who can sincerely call themselves scientists pursue their discipline out of a love for knowledge. Science is supposed to improve conditions necessary to foster our well-being and happiness, and to preserve the planet’s environment in an ethical manner. A scientist who truly pursues knowledge out of love, Russell argues, will desire the fruits of his work and craft to be expressions of kindness for the greater good. On the other hand, science is perverted when knowledge is pursued solely for power and domination over others. He warned about the trends of his day increasing whereby the holders of scientific knowledge become “evil” and science solely serves the ambitions of the powerful and those who control scientific inventions’ utility. “Scientific knowledge,” Russell wrote, “does not make men more sensible in their aims, and administrators in the future will be presumably no less stupid and no less prejudiced than they are at present.”
Since the days when science broke free from religion during the European Renaissance, the blind faith in perpetual scientific progress as humanity’s best of fortunes has been incanted to our present day. In fact, in the 21st century, scientific materialism has now generally replaced religious beliefs and morals altogether. This is especially evident in the contemporary regressive movements of Skepticism, the New Atheism, Science- and Evidence-based Medicine, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, Randian Objectivism, and scientific positivism, which have all been chained to corporate capital and science’s bureaucracies. This perpetual myth in scientific progress, says Russell, “is one of the comfortable nineteenth-century delusions which our more disillusioned age must discard.” In the end, Russell foresaw that science may be the ultimate cause behind “the destruction of our civilization.” From our own perspective, given our governments’ and corporations’ utter disregard towards climate change, insensitive destruction of the natural world and other species, medical abuse of prescription drugs, and brushing off the lives of those in economic and social straits, we have to agree.
Modern Medicine: The Exemplar of Scientific Nepotism
Throughout its history the practice of medicine has been associated with humanitarian and compassionate efforts to relieve the suffering of others. In modern times, we assume that medical science is serving us to find new miracles to save our lives. In ancient systems, medicine was perceived as a divine art and knowledge brought down to humans by the gods on high. A healer who lived by the ethical codes of his craft was held in high esteem by rulers and peasants alike. Although there have always been medical pretenders who took advantage of the ignorant, the medical arts themselves retained their integrity…. until our modern era. Before outlining the many ways that conventional corporate medicine has become the paragon of a science turned enemy against its essential moral code and the people it is supposed to serve, we might begin with a recent example depicting just how low the medical discipline has sunk into Hades. The state of modern American medicine was accurately summarized in April 2018 when Goldman Sachs released its financial projection report, “The Genome Revolution,” to biotechnology companies. The report doesn’t hesitate to state clearly that for future investment, corporate profits far outweigh the curing of disease.
Goldman Sachs is one of Wall Street’s largest investors in high growth technologies, particularly pharmaceuticals, medical devices and healthcare services. The report presents the frightening question, “Is curing patients a sustainable business model?”
Even for the most hardened proponents of natural medicine and opponents of Big Pharma, there are times when a drug developer hits the nail correctly. Such is the case with Gilead Sciences’ drugs Harvoni and Epclusa, which have achieved over a 90 percent cure rate for hepatitis C. This is an extraordinary cure rate. But for Goldman, this is a bad sign for investors and shareholders. The drugs’ success has steadily drained the pool of patients requiring treatment. At their peak in 2015, these drugs earned $12.5 billion. Three years later it is expected to earn under $4 billion, and revenues will continue to decline. Goldman writes,
“In the case of infectious diseases such as hepatitis C, curing existing patients also decreases the number of carriers able to transmit the virus to new patients, thus the incident pool also declines … Where an incident pool remains stable (eg. in cancer) the potential for a cure poses less risk to the sustainability of a franchise.”
Goldman’s report confirms an observation that we have been voicing for many years. That is, modern medicine is no longer about treating disease; rather, it is all about disease management to keep patients on drugs for life. How did this trend of an amoral medical philosophy and a betrayal of Hippocratic principles come about since billions of dollars are spent annually to discover cures for disease?
Before the arrival of the Reagan era, most scientific pursuits remained relatively free of commercial efforts to deceive and corrupt. Although federal health agencies have in the past funded witch hunts to squash non-conventional medical theories and practices, such as Chiropractic and more recent homeopathy, overall ethical standards were upheld to approve drugs’ efficacy and safety to the best of their capabilities. Certainly there were serious oversights and failures costing many lives such as Quaalude-300, PTZ for convulsive therapy, thalidomide and the acellular pertussis vaccine. There were also cases of gross conspiracy and scandal that destroyed numerous lives, such as the 1932-1972 Tuskegee experiment to secretly withhold penicillin from untreated African American males with syphilis. However, it was only during the past three decades that private corporations’ blitzkrieg to subdue the nation’s health agencies to control their executive functions and administrations were succeeding at a rapid pace.
Before the collapse of the Soviet Union on Christmas day in 1991, governance was dictated in a bipolar world between two military giants. The governments of the US and the Soviets, and their respective allies, were the sole stakeholders moving the pawns on the world’s chessboard. On the global scene, private industry and civil society would have to wait to grab a seat at the table of governance until American global hegemony was established. Therefore the collapse of the Soviet bloc opened the floodgates for commercial interests. Large corporations serving primarily domestic interests went international. New markets increased exponentially and private corporations and investment banks took advantage of the openings in these markets. Exploitation of these opportunities commenced unimpeded. Otherwise national corporations morphed overnight into transnational behemoths, with values competing with national economies, which has resulted in widespread commercial influence over practically all of our institutions in government, higher education, professional associations and the media. In addition, science became embedded in private economic interests and the governments of the developed nations, notably the US and Britain, were eager to throw in their support to assure unlimited corporate growth would freely increase. The emerging corporate aristocracy were not perceived so much as uncontrollable rogue entrepreneurs who necessitated strict government oversight and regulation to be kept in tow. Rather they became partners as their agendas melted into being one and same.
Ronald Reagan, the first Deregulator-in-Chief, opened a pathway for private interests to gain greater control over the sciences. According to Leslie Janka, a former White House deputy press secretary under Reagan, his entire presidency “was PR.”
“This was a PR outfit,” stated Janka, “that became president and took over the country. And to the degree then which the Constitution forced them to do things like make a budget, run a foreign policy and all that, they sort of did. But their first, last and overarching activity was public relations.”
Reagan, who consulted astrologers for decision-making, was a science illiterate who favored private economic growth over altruism and consumer safety by any means. This meant gutting the Environmental Protection Agency of its scientific oversight on industries’ propensity to evade regulatory hurdles and pollute the environment.
It was also during the Reagan era that pharmaceutical firms infiltrated the halls of the federal government. Through concerted lobbying and persuasion, Reagan signed the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act to protect vaccine makers from financial liability due to vaccines’ adverse effects. Before this bill, only a few firms continued to manufacture vaccines; the financial risks and compensation burden from vaccine injuries were too high for most drug companies. Reagan is therefore credited for launching the current vaccine boom, estimated to be worth $60 billion by 2020, with no legal liability placed upon companies for pushing unsafe and minimally effective vaccines. This trend entered hyper drive disorder under President Clinton, who perceived himself as the first “biotech president” and invited more corporate executives with conflicts-of-interest into his administration than any previous president. If the proliferation of GMOs is regarded as a contagion and curse on human and environmental health, then Clinton is ultimately to be blamed.
There are three primary avenues by which science becomes corrupted and thereby damages the public’s health and the environment. These include: 1) corporate influence over scientific discoveries that are developed into products for public consumption; 2) corruption within the scientific community itself; and 3) the emergence of a positive philosophy towards science that adheres to all of the dogmatic trimmings of fundamentalist religious faith and that seeks full protection from government to become the reigning ideology of the state.
This latter trend has been termed “scientism,” an incoherent ideology that identifies rationality and reason with science itself. Scientism embraces the premise that science can explain everything. One of the more common criticisms against scientism is its “claims that science has already resolved questions that are inherently beyond its ability to answer.” This scientific hubris particularly plagues the biological disciplines such as mental health, immunology, drug-based conventional medical therapies, neurobiology, the genetic etiology of disease, nanomedicine and genetic modification of plants for industrial agriculture.
One unrecognized consequence of scientism is that it plays directly into corporate hands to advance its’ financial interests and commercial control over a population. By tossing aside philosophical and ethical considerations over natural scientific discoveries and findings, scientific truths stand alone as sterile and amoral tools that can be used as economic weapons of destruction. This is most evident in the pharmaceutical industry that pushes questionably ineffective and unsafe drugs to treat physical and mental disorders, or the agro-chemical corporations’ poisoning the public with carcinogenic pesticides and environment-damaging genetically modified crops.
According to a report released by the Union of Concerned Scientists,
“Corporations attempt to exert influence at every step of the scientific and policy making process, often to shape decisions in their favor or avoid regulation and monitoring of their products and by-products at the public expense.”
In order to achieve their goals, private interests make every attempt to win over the White House, Congressional legislators, senior federal agency officials and even the judicial courts. One of science-generated industries’ greatest threats is independent evaluation of the scientific research supporting their products. Therefore, winning over or buying the allegiance of the legislative heads of Congressional committees and the executive tiers of federal agency regulators is a prime directive to grease the bureaucracy in order to make the licensing channels for product approval slide through smoothly and to lessen regulatory due diligence and scientific scrutiny.
There are several ways that private corporations succeed in influencing the government and enslave it to do their bidding. One is the prerequisite to assure that the judicial terrain is safe for corporations to conduct scientific malfeasance and fraud. This includes manipulating and fudging scientific data, preserving and exerting control over scientists, and taking control of peer-reviewed scientific literature. Although these tactics are found throughout many industries, it is the medical and food professions that are today the most corrupt and acting with blatant criminality.
Charles Seife and his students at New York University undertook the task to determine to what extent the FDA covers up evidence of fraud and corruption in medical drug trials. They reviewed FDA documents for about 600 clinical trials. How often do federal health officials discover flagrant and intentional misconduct and subsequently decide to bury the evidence and prevent it from becoming public to the medical community? Seife discovered such actions to be an official pattern within the agency. Given the high rate of content deleted or blacked out from the documents the FDA provided, the investigators could only determine which pharmaceutical company or drug was involved in 1 of 6 of the reviewed trials. For one trial alone, where FDA inspectors found significant fraud and misconduct, 78 different medical publications printed articles based upon that single study. In an article for Slate, Seife writes,
“Nobody ever finds out which data is bogus, which experiments are tainted, and which drugs might be on the market under false pretenses. The FDA has repeatedly hidden evidence of scientific fraud not just from the public, but also from its most trusted scientific advisers, even as they were deciding whether or not a new drug should be allowed on the market. Even a congressional panel investigating a case of fraud regarding a dangerous drug couldn’t get forthright answers.”
In one case, a new anti-blood clotting drug, rivaroxaban, involved four large trials recruiting thousands of patients in clinical sites in over a dozen countries. According to Seife, one of the trials “was a fiasco.” In half of the sixteen clinical sites, the FDA discovered “misconduct, fraud, fishy behavior or other practices so objectionable that the data had to be thrown out.” One Colorado site falsified data. In the Mexican site, there was “systematic discarding of medical records.” Despite these overwhelming problems, the drug trial was published favorably in the prestigious British journal The Lancet. The FDA found similar problems in the three other trials; in one the data was ruled “worthless.” The FDA advisory committee of “expert” reviewers were only informed that inspectors discovered only “significant issues” at two sites in one of the trials. Rivaroxaban was nevertheless approved in 2011. Since then lawsuits for wrongful death from rivaroxaban continue to increase.
In another case from 2010, Cetero, a private research company that contracts to Big Pharma, faked data for over 1,400 drug safety and effectiveness trials conducted for roughly 100 drugs, mostly generic knock offs, that were being targeted for the US market. Although the FDA had uncovered this fraud, it has refused to make these 100 drugs known to the professional medical community and public.
A possible reason for some federal health agencies becoming compromised in an administrative strait jacket being pulled ever tighter by private industry is due to excessive downsizing and withdrawal of funds during the current and past two presidencies. A decade ago, an article by Jessica Washburn appearing in Discover Magazine reported about the dire situation at the NIH’s Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction.
The Center is responsible for the evaluation of chemicals and their impact on reproductive health. With continual deregulation following the Koch Brother agenda to permit private industries to flood the environment with toxic substances to their hearts’ desire, this is an enormously important department carrying the mandate to assure the health of pregnant women and to protect their fetuses. Yet the Center only employed three people, one who was part-time. The vast majority of the workload was outsourced to a private consulting firm, Sciences International. For almost ten years, this firm, which had been receiving funding from over forty chemical companies, was the primary evaluator of the environmental toxins mothers-to-be were being exposed to.
About the authors:
Richard Gale is the Executive Producer of the Progressive Radio Network and a former Senior Research Analyst in the biotechnology and genomic industries.
Dr. Gary Null is the host of the nation’s longest running public radio program on alternative and nutritional health and a multi-award-winning documentary film director, including Poverty Inc and Deadly Deception.
- https://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.pn.2017.pp9b2 and https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2684607
- Russell, Bertrand. “Icarus or the Future of Science,”
- Mark Hersgaard On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency
- Hughes, Austin. “The Folly of Scientism,” The New Atlantis.