Martin J Walker's latest essay Science is the New Politics reads like an encyclopedia of juicy (if rather unappetising) facts on the relationship between government organisations and pharmaceutical/chemical companies.
It also reads like a horror story from the diaries of Dr Frankenstein.
It is an essential body of research for anyone wishing to back up their opinions on political corruption and corporate science with minutely detailed references.
When I wrote my last piece: Controlled Opposition, Twenty Questions You Never Dared to Ask, I deliberately refrained from naming names and pointing fingers because such volatile accusations of corruption require the most rigorous investigation and evidence of the sort to be found in hair-raising abundance in this latest essay of Martin Walker's.
Basically, for those wishing to understand who is who and who does what with what dirty money and how, this is a must read.
The following three paragraphs are a small sample of this hefty opus, that can be found in full on his website www.slingshotpublications.com
(p.50 Science is the New Politics)
In the nineteen nineties, science education and policy came under the wing of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and from that time, corporate science and its organisations breached the boundaries of government and took control themselves of educating both MPs and the public about science. In 1998 with the New Labour's emplacement of the billionaire shopping magnet Lord Salisbury in the DTI, industry took over science policy. In Britain, greedy corporations met irresponsible government and together both parties began a campaign to deny all adverse reactions or other failings to the techniques or products of corporate science.
With government and corporations organised against the laity, the legal system is often the people's first defence. The United States of America is a large diverse country with a legal system that appears to be able to be used on behalf of the people. On the other hand, Britain is two small islands with a tightly unified and controlling class, and a legal system populated with men and women who can no longer find the word principle in their dictionaries. In the US lawyers have fought for claimants against corporations,88 while in Britain lawyers and other powerful sectors have simply chosen to agree with the opposition that corporate science has never harmed anyone while doing under the table deals with government. In Britain health consumers have been deprived not only of their right to chose health therapies and produce, but also their right to defend themselves against harm from corporate science and its products.
The pharmaceutical industry specifically, and the allopathic health industry generally, are worth billions, and along with the bio-agricultural industry they represent the apex of corporate science and the carry round with them a new ideology. It is then hardly surprising, that amongst the industrial and post-industrial lobbies, the 'quackbusting' movement, funded by the pharmaceutical industry, became one of the first to come out publicly in conflict with what the industry considered competitive alternative health therapies and products. This lobby was building on firm foundations, with lobbies and PR fronts having been well established in industries like the asbestos and chemical industries in the 1950s and 1960s.
January 7, 2005
AIDS Dissidence Movement Loses a Dear Friend. Tribute to Mark Griffiths
AZT: AN AIDS-DEFINING DRUG
AZT specifically, and ongoing work by scientists on attempts at anti-viral therapies generally, confirmed in both the public and scientific mind, that a HIV was the sole cause of AIDS. AZT was marketed as the cure for a viral condition and, lay thinking went, scientists would not have invented an anti-viral cure if the illness was not caused by a virus. AZT may well have been the first drug in history which defined the illness it was meant to treat, rather than the other way around.
Today, ten years after licensing, AZT is still used as a gold standard by scientists and doctors who believe an HIV is the sole cause of the AIDS-defining complex of illnesses. As the progenitor of other apparently anti-viral drugs and circular proof that 'HIV causes AIDS', AZT has had immense tantric, but no clinical value.
The production and marketing of commodities creates certain realities and 'truths' which are often far more persistent than the scientific assumptions upon which the commodities themselves are based.
In the mid nineteen eighties, the Wellcome Foundation was outside the top ten ranking world pharmaceutical companies. These rankings are, however, based upon turnover and more generally, money spent on research and development. In other respects the Wellcome Foundation was a hugely powerful organisation.
Throughout the nineteen eighties, the Wellcome Foundation and the Wellcome Trust both participated in the Trilateral Commission. At this time, the Wellcome Foundation had forty main subsidiaries worldwide. Their largest subsidiary and major profit earning company was the US-based Burroughs Wellcome. Wellcome was sending medical support and aid to the dissenting parties in the eastern bloc countries and breaching the Japanese market with an expanding new plant.
Burroughs Wellcome had two good reasons for giving the drug to Sam Broder -- first Robert Gallo worked at the NCI and secondly, Wellcome knew that Broder would see the drug through the regulatory hoops. With Wellcome apparently playing a back seat role, the drug became the official cure for AIDS, promoted by the US government. To help Broder work AZT through the regulatory process, and to secure their ownership of the drug, Burroughs Wellcome gave the NCI $55,000 in 1985 and $25,000 in 1986.
To give the marketing bandwagon maximum publicity, Wellcome organised the biggest world-wide media campaign that had ever been carried out by a drug company. The idea was that if Wellcome could sell to governments in bulk, the fine tuning of AZT marketing could be left to in-place networks of doctors and scientists in those countries.
Wherever the AZT caravan stopped, it presented physicians from important metropolitan centres like London and New York. These market pitches were paid for in every last detail by Wellcome, Burroughs Wellcome or one of the other drug companies which made up the Wellcome cartel group.
In December 1989 the marketing circus went to Brazilia. Wellcome had established laboratories in Brazila, in partnership with ICI. Doctors attended from all over Latin America. The guest of honour was the Brazilian minister of health, Dr Guerra. Other guests were Dr David Hawkins from St. Stephen's Hospital, London, and Dr Tom Lissauer from St Mary's in Paddington, London. Professor Paul Griffiths, from the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, London, and Dr Brian Gazzard, from the Westminster Hospital, London, all gave accounts of the beneficial treatment of HIV patients with AZT.
In August 1984, Wellcome was approached by Dr Robin Weiss, the executive Director of the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) -- a postgraduate Institute, part of London University and counterpart to the American NCI where Gallo held the patent rights on testing kits. In the past, the Institute had received the majority of its funding from the Medical Research Council (MRC) but this had been gradually overtaken by funding from industry.
By 1992, Dr Jones was able to tell the press that 4,000 separate studies had now been carried out which demonstrated the benefits of AZT.
BdZ defined the factors which might destabilise the market position of AZT as:
- The sudden obsolescence of AZT with the discovery of a cure for AIDS.
- Any publicity about debilitating toxicity.
- Any publicity about questionable efficacy.
- The possible rapid approval for competitor drugs.
- A decline in the projected AIDS epidemic.
These points speak volumes about the political economy of medicine in developed countries. To recoup its initial capital investment and secure a long market life for AZT on the basis of the BdZ report, Wellcome had to hope that; no cure for AIDS was discovered; there was no criticism of AZT; there was no fast-track approval of any other drug; reports of the (heterosexual) spread of AIDS continued. In the world of big business only the scent of scandal separates marketing theory from marketing practice. Wellcome, or agents on their behalf, carried out all five of these strategies between 1988 and 1993 during which time AZT remained unchallenged.
The most important of the MRC AIDS subcommittees throughout the time of Wellcome's Concorde trials was the AIDS Therapeutic Trials Committee. This committee was responsible for selecting and overseeing all government and industry sponsored trials into AIDS and HIV at the time Wellcome received its license for AZT. At least five members of this committee, the only committee in the country which could, during the late eighties, have furthered competitive research and drug development, had received funding through the Wellcome Trust.