Thursday, July 30, 2020

Follow The Money

One of the most famous movie lines of all time was in All The President's Men which recounted the journalistic pursuits of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein involving the Watergate Scandal. 

Their "Deep Throat" FBI informant repeatedly sought to guide them on the story without giving too much away by telling Woodward and Bernstein, "Follow the money..." 

So it is with almost anything. If you follow the money it usually leads you to the truth. 

If we follow the money it might also explain how an inexpensive, generic drug has come to be considered the most controversial, scrutinized and dangerous drug known to mankind.

It makes you wonder why so many politicians, members of the media, social media powerhouses, and public health "experts" (including Dr. Anthony Fauci) have sought to criticize and denigrate the drug. 

Of course, I am talking about the drug hydroxychloroquine.

At first I thought it was a natural reaction to the fact that President Trump had mentioned early in the pandemic that the drug might be helpful in treating Covid-19. Of course, the fact that Trump actually later took a course of the drug as a preventive measure when there were several cases in the White House made it even more critical that it had to be shown that Trump was an idiot.

It should be apparent by now that if Trump says anything there will be a group that will want to immediately prove that he is wrong. After all, "the orange man is bad!" There are no other ifs, ands or buts about it.

I have recently seen evidence that indicates that the more logical explanation for the smear campaign on hydroxychloroquine may be explained by returning to that old advice of following the money.

Hydroxychoroquine (HCQ) is a generic medication that has been prescribed by doctors for over 65 years for malaria, lupus, arthritis and various autoimmune disorders. All drugs have side effects and risks but HCQ has generally been considered one of the safest drugs on the market due to its long history of successful use.

Its safety is supported by the fact that it is an over-the-counter drug in a number of countries around the world. That includes India and a number of countries in Africa where malaria is a concern.

Was it just a coincidence that this occurred just as the full effects of the Covid-19 pandemic were becoming known in China?

Was it also just a coincidence that an earlier study involving SARS- CoV ( a virus that shares about 3/4 of the same DNA as Covid-19 (officially SAR-CoV2) ) came to the following conclusion in 2005.

Chloroquine is effective in preventing the spread of SARS CoV in cell culture. Favorable inhibition of virus spread was observed when the cells were either treated with chloroquine prior to or after SARS CoV infection.

Could it then be possible that there were those in the pharmaceutical industry that might have more than a slight financial interest in seeing to it that a low-cost drug to treat Covid-19 never gained credibility as a treatment for Covid-19? 

Why let a low-cost generic drug take away revenues and profits that might amount to billions and billions of dollars in costly new drugs and vaccines?

You would think that the FDA, the CDC and the medical establishment exist to make sure that "truth" rather than "money" would prevail in a situation like this.

However, Dr. James Todaro who is one of the physicians who is member of the America's Frontline Doctors group which I wrote about in my last post has written an article that calls that assumption 
into question. I suggest you read it in full here. The extent to which he believes that the pharmaceutical companies have co-opted government, medical institutions and journals, and the entire medical establishment, is sobering.

How do they do it? Follow the money. Money talks. Therefore, money carries a lot of INFLUENCE.

Todaro begins the article by quoting the former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine about what that influence is doing.

Now primarily a marketing machine to sell drugs of dubious benefit, this industry uses its wealth and power to co-opt every institution that might stand in its way, including the U.S. Congress, the Food and Drug Administration, academic medical centers, and the medical profession itself.

- Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of the NEJM, The Truth About the Drug Companies

A few interesting factoids that Todaro has on the money that pharma is using for influence.

Influencing government agencies and politicians.
The pharmaceuticals and health products spent $295 million in lobbying efforts in the United States which places it in 1st place in money spent on lobbying. For comparison, the insurance industry and automotive industry only spent $155 million and $69 million in 2019, respectively. 

Money spent on marketing and advertising. Ask yourself now many pharma ads you see each day on tv or other forms of media. It is A LOT. 
According to researchers at Dartmouth College, the US pharmaceutical industry increased total spending on marketing from $17.7 billion in 1997 to nearly $30 billion in 2016. The strategy was successful with US spending on prescription drugs ballooning from $117 billion to $329 billion during this time. 

Money spent with academic medical journals.
Advertising and sponsorships are a substantial source of revenue for most medical journals comprising up to 80% of publishing revenue for some journals. 

As I have written before, I don't know how effective HCQ is as a treatment for Covid-19. I do know that doctors that I respect and listen to believe it is the treatment of choice if administered early after symptoms present themselves.

I know that some have argued that HCQ's efficacy has not been proven in randomized clinical trials (RCT). However, I know of no other drug (and certainly no vaccine) that has been proven to treat or prevent Covid-19 based on this gold standard either.

Looking at the data with Covid-19, one of the things that continues to mystify me is why some of the countries with much less in the way of medical resources and wealth have death rates that are fractions of Western countries.

Consider this chart from that compares death rates between countries that have adopted early HCQ use and those that did not.

That website also has references to all of the studies that have been done on HCQ in the treatment of Covid-19---65 in all (39 peer reviewed).


Let's take a closer look at India.

When Covid-19 broke out I had tremendous fears that a full-scale humanitarian crisis from the virus would overwhelm India. I had the same concerns about many countries in Africa.

For example, here is a picture I saw in March when the government in India ordered a business lockdown in the country and millions of migrant workers with no job and no money set out for their ancestral homes around the country.

Does this not look like a disaster in the making based on what we have been told about the importance of social distancing and masks?

Credit: The Katmandu Post

This is how The Katmandu Post describes how this scene.

India is walking home', declared the headline in The Indian Express as newspapers and television screens filled with images of millions of migrant workers, clutching their meagre belongings, trekking along India’s deserted highways to return to their homes, hundreds of kilometres away.

On the evening of March 24, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared, with just four hours’ notice, a 21-day lockdown from midnight onward, to prevent the spread of coronavirus. But he had failed to plan for the impact of his announcement on India’s vast informal economy.

Unable to earn money to feed themselves or pay rent in congested urban ghettos, India’s vast legion of workers packed up and set off for home, often to villages in faraway states. With trains and buses out of service, they walked.

India's population is over 1.3 billion people.

It has a population density that is 12 times greater than that of the United States.

Mumbai, India has a population density of 76,790 per square mile. New York City is about one-third of that at 27,800 per square mile. 


The United States spends over 50 times as much on health care per capita as India.

The USA is first on the list of countries below. India is last. India spends the grand total of a little more than $200 per capita/per year on health expenditures.


Now let's compare Covid-19 deaths per capita in the two countries.

India only has about one-seventh of the deaths per million as the United States despite greater population density, less wealth and much fewer health resources.

Why is that?

It could be related to the sub-tropical climate in much of India. It does have a younger population. Perhaps Indians have fewer pre-existing conditions. It could be that India does not have as sophisticated a death certification process as we do in the United States so deaths are underreported.

Then again, perhaps it is the heavier use of hydroxychloroquine in the population. It might also be that India is not subject to the same influences of the pharmaceutical industry as in richer countries. There is far less chance that $6,000 drugs are going to be widely used in India. The money is just not there to do it.

I don't know the answer. However, I do know all of these questions should be asked.

Here is a chart comparing the United States with various African countries which raises similar questions to those involving India.

The first question above all others is why have so many negative stories suddenly appeared about an inexpensive drug that was not controversial and had almost no known side effects after being used for over 65 years?

Why is there such a concerted effort to silence any doctors who do not follow the correct script by writing scrips for HCQ to treat Covid-19?

If you want to dive deeper into this story I would recommend you read this article by Filipe Rafaeli who is a Brazilian who has researched HCQ exhaustively.

I should warn you that you need to be well rested before you read his work because it is an estimated one hour read. I did read it (well, most of it).

If you don't trust people with political agendas this is for you. The author shares no love for Trump or Bolsonara and seems only driven by science and the data. He shares a lot of facts and pulls no punches with anyone.

His conclusion is that Gilead (who developed the drug Remdisivir which both Fauci and Trump have praised) orchestrated the attack on HCQ. The only difference is that Fauci never said anything positive about HCQ. Rafaeli explains why that is suspicious in itself considering the facts about both drugs.

Never doubt the communication power and influence of a $ 22 billion company. It is childish to doubt that.

Hydroxychloroquine, cheap, without patents and without a large corporation behind it, has no bargaining power. The drug was attacked and disqualified.

Big pharma’s trained monkeys are able to maintain the narrative that other drugs don’t work. But the script failed: the big pharmaceutical companies are failing to say that their profitable drugs works, despite huge marketing.

In fact, in addition to not reducing deaths, Remdesivir has caused kidney failure and left people on dialysis machines . And one more coincidence: I have not seen news in the mainstream media about the serious side effects of this medication.

In the end, it is not a "scientific war", but narratives wars. And hydroxychloroquine will win.

You cannot hold results data from other countries for long. Nor is it possible to ban countries from using them, despite attempts, such as the lobbying over Russia, with its excellent numbers, which are already bothering.

Soon the narrative that doesn’t work will crumble like a house of cards. It can’t be all coincidence.

I don't know whether "hydroxychloroquine will win" in the end as Rafaeli predicts.

I am only interested in "the truth" winning in the end. 

I don't give two hoots about HCQ, Remdisivir, the "promising" Covid-19 vaccines or anything else.

Like most everyone else, I just want this whole pandemic to end. And to end QUICKLY.

I do know it won't end if we are fed false promises and fake claims. It won't end by suppressing people with different opinions. We need all hands on deck and the diversity of thinking that comes with it.

Right now the truth is a very elusive commodity.

It seems that there are those that seem fearful of what the truth may show.

Why else have we seen the extraordinary efforts to discredit what used to be just an ordinary, inexpensive generic drug that no one cared about?

How best to find the truth?

It starts with following the money.

Do your own research. Use your own common sense. Beware those that have their own agenda.

May the truth prevail.

No comments:

Post a Comment