Believing Witnesses or Felons?

May 8, 2010

Recently, investigative journalist John Lauritsen posted this report regarding the so-called AIDS controversy.  in response, Andrew John posted this analysis of the dispute.

After examining the controversy for two years, it’s hard to ignore the similarities between today’s pharmaceutical industry and historical examples of municipal corruption.

During the 1920s, Hollywood madams used kickbacks and girls to encourage police commissioners to ignore prostitution complaints. But because complaints were hard to ignore, the police staged coordinated raids with madams so that some new girls (first-time offenders) would be arrested without threatening the madams or commissioners. In this way, the madams stayed in business and the commissioners retained power, while the newspapers reported that the police had done their job. Although some “conspiracy theorists” raised questions at the time, they were largely ignored by a press that enjoyed the company of commissioners and madams.

This arrangement is essentially how the pharmaceutical industry is regulated today. Last week, AstraZeneca paid $520 million to settle multiple felony complaints for a drug (Seroquel) that generated as much as $4 billion in 2009 alone.

As usual, no one went to jail.

Think about this – If a felon is released after paying a $5K fine for a crime spree that nets him $800K, wouldn’t someone ask why? And isn’t racketeering at least as dangerous as drugs that kill or injure millions of Americans each year?

If companies like GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) were real persons they would have begun serving life sentences as three-strike felons years ago. But because they own the regulators, they pay modest fines just like Hollywood’s notorious madams, who pay people like Kalichman ($17 million) to attack those who ask embarrassing questions. 

Notice also that the words BELIEVE and BELIEF are interspersed throughout DJ’s report and these comments. This suggests that this dispute is based upon FAITH (theology) rather than evidence. FAITH requires an assessment of credibility. 

So who should we BELIEVE? 

Should we believe Seth Kalichman, who was paid $17 million since 2000 to represent an industry that has spent billions to settle felony complaints? Or should we listen to questions raised by people like Lauritsen and Duesberg who do not represent three-strike felons?

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