Selling Drugs as Scholarly Opinion

July 26, 2011

Would you buy a home loan from a Countrywide loan rep?  Would you invest your life savings with Bernie Madoff?  Would you ask Casey Anthony to babysit your children?  Probably not.

by Nancy Banks MD & Clark Baker

So why should anyone believe David Ropeik when he says you need a vaccination?

Drug Company Marketing Shill

Although the Times vaguely identifies David Ropeik as “an instructor at Harvard University,” Harvard’s websites identify the former TV news reporter as Director of Communications for the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis (HCRA).

According to SourceWatch, Public Citizen and the Integrity and Science Project, HCRA has been funded by a who’s who of petrochemical, biotechnology and vaccine companies that include AstraZeneca, BMS, GSK, Hoffman-LaRoche, Janssen, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Novartis, Parke-Davis, Pfizer, Pharmacia, Roche Pharmaceuticals, Schering-Plough Corporation, Wyeth-Ayerst and Eli Lilly – companies that were responsible for products that have killed, crippled or injured millions of Americans since 1990.

In his “opinion piece” published last week by the Los Angeles Times, Ropeik calls for new laws, incarceration and economic hardships against parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.  To lend credibility, the Times identified Ropeik as “an instructor at Harvard University.” 

By using the “Harvard brand,” the Times editorial staff knew, or should have known, that the division that employs Ropeik offers no-credit open-enrollment courses, professional development seminars and certificates.

The Times also failed to disclose that Ropeik and his cohorts specialize in “risk communication,” a skill designed to make consumers feel better about products and services that kill and injure more than a million Americans annually.  With credentials that once earned him a position as a local TV news reporter, calling Ropeik a “vaccine expert” is akin to calling Capt. Kirk an astrophysicist.

In an opinion both Orwellian and unscientific, Ropeik declares that parents who do not vaccinate are as dangerous as drunk drivers and smokers, but fails to disclose that:

  • The CDC and vaccine manufacturers pay him, directly or indirectly, to promote their marketing campaigns.
  • The resurgence of eradicated diseases has arisen in populations that have been more than 95% vaccinated. 
  • Recent outbreaks of common diseases like measles occur in highly vaccinated populations, making the vaccinated population a greater risk to the unvaccinated – the exact opposite of what he proposes on behalf of vaccine promoters. 
  • Ropeik’s clients are prohibited by law from making the false claims that they pay Ropeik to make.

Criminal Enterprise

Since 2004, the pharmaceutical industry has paid more than $9 billion to settle thousands of criminal and civil complaints related to the illegal marketing of drugs that kill or injure more than a million Americans EVERY YEAR.  To stay in business, drug giants like Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) routinely create shell companies to admit guilt and fold, leaving the parent companies intact and the injured uncompensated.

Although the Federal Government requires vaccine manufacturers to disclose the deadly effects of their products to consumers, drug companies circumvent these laws by hiring public relations experts to promote their products without full disclosure in the print and television media. 

In this case, the Times allowed Ropeik & Associates to post their pharmaceutically-funded ad as a credible public policy opinion.  It’s hard to say how much pharmaceutical advertising the Times will receive for promoting Ropeik’s marketing campaign.

Legendary reporter John Carroll spoke of demise of the media in 2006;

“(There was a time) when there were rules that strictly governed and protected journalistic integrity and accuracy, and rewarded original and innovative important journalism…  What dominates the news industry now… is marketing, public relations, and money.”

Pharmaceutical Ads

Celebrities sell drugs the same way.

In her book Our Daily Meds [2009], former New York Times reporter Melody Petersen describes how actresses like Lauren Bacall and Debbie Reynolds promote drugs like Visudyne and Detrol but are never required to warn viewers that the drugs cause blindness and dementia or that they were both paid by drug companies to promote these drugs.  And while basketball great Magic Johnson pushes HIV drugs and tests in black neighborhoods, few know that Abbott Labs paid him $60 million to do it.

Like these pitchmen, Ropeik makes his living not by protecting the public, but by convincing Americans to believe what his corporate clients pay him to say.  He’s not required to disclose payments made by vaccine makers to his consulting firm or those made for the use of Harvard’s name to sell his promotion as a credible opinion piece.

As Petersen explains, when shills like these sell drugs and vaccines, “consumers don’t even know that a sell has taken place.”

Selling Panic and Hysteria

Ropeik cites “global outbreaks” of measles that have sickened 118 in the US this year, but fails to disclose THOUSANDS of vaccine-related injuries and deaths that are reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) every year in the US.  He also claims that there is “overwhelming evidence” that vaccines do not cause autism, while the overwhelming evidence produced by independent researchers unaffiliated with the pharmaceutical industry strongly suggests they do.

More than 3,000 new cases of autism were reported in California in 2006, compared with 205 in 1990.  In 1990, 6.2 of every 10,000 children born in the state were diagnosed with autism by the age of five, compared with 42.5 in 10,000 born in 2001. The numbers have continued to rise since then.

In fact, vaccines injure and kill so many people each year that parents are no longer allowed to sue vaccine manufacturers in court.  Instead, parents  must follow special rules and submit claims to special masters.  So even if the vaccine doesn’t cripple or kill you, the claims process probably will.

While the financial cost of caring for an autistic child is estimated to be greater than $2 million, Congress has capped most claims at $250,000.  And while it is impossible to imagine the pain endured by parents whose decision to vaccinate results in the crippling or death of their own children, “Manufacturers are not liable for failure to provide warnings directly to the injured party…” Homeland Security Act of 2002.

According to former FDA Director David Kessler MD, only about ONE PERCENT of all serious adverse drug events (reactions) are ever reported; which means that the actual number of vaccine casualties is probably closer to one to three million Americans annually.  To underscore this fact, the American Medical Association (AMA) reports that – if tracked like real diseases – adverse drug reactions (ADRs) would represent the 4th to 6th leading cause of death in the United States – a number far higher than all of the infectious disease fatalities that occur in the US each year.

When infectious diseases like measles and pertussis became statistically irrelevant in the US by 1955, drug companies continue to market fear and hysteria to sell their pathogenic snake oil.  They are now so desperate to maintain market share and profit – and so alarmed that parents are refusing to expose their children to heavy metals and vaccine pathogens – that they spend twice as much on shills like Ropeik to promote their drugs than they do researching them. 

Every belief system runs its course.  Eventually, shared consensus is confronted by incontrovertible evidence to the contrary.  Every medical historian and honest epidemiologist (i.e. those not paid by the drug industry) who has bothered to read the data knows why the rate of infectious diseases has precipitously fallen in the West.  They know the impact of public health measures like clean water, sanitation, better food, housing and education.

They understand the with social and economic improvements that benefited the nation as a whole.  It had very little to do with 20th century vaccines, which unfortunately continue to be marketed to take credit for something they did not accomplish.

As OMSJ reported last month, the final patient tally attributed to the CDC’s current pertussis campaign (whooping cough) will likely be eclipsed by the number of vaccine-related injuries and fatalities that American children will unnecessary suffer this year.

For example, pertussis reportedly killed 17 Americans in 2000, the same year that vaccines killed or seriously injured 14,153 men, women and children.  This means that Americans were 83,152 times more likely to be seriously injured or killed by vaccines than pertussis in 2000.  In 2010, CDC reported that ten children were killed by pertussis, the same year that VAERS reported that pertussis vaccines killed 17 children.  Although Ropeik’s corporate clients expect that 334 English and Welch children will spend a few weeks in bed with the measles this year, they will fare better than those who will be permanently crippled from vaccines. 

Nancy T. Banks MD (Harvard Medical School) practiced general obstetrics and gynecology for 25 years and is the author of AIDS, Opium, Diamonds and Empire (2010).  Clark Baker served 20 years with the LAPD and is the founder and principal investigator for the Office of Medical & Scientific Justice, Inc.

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