Updated: May 9
Chapter 8: Article 3
In the previous article I explained two reasons why vaccine reporting is so biased:
the HHS instructed that media reporting must be biased, in favour of vaccines
if doctors who oppose vaccines were given an equal platform through media, to explain their concerns, vaccination rates would drop significantly
There’s at least one more reason WHY the media presents such biased messaging. The third reason is because of direct to consumer advertising. Now it seems like direct to consumer advertising should make little impact globally because it is only allowed in the USA and New Zealand. What's interesting about that though is here in Canada I remember watching countless pharmaceutical advertisements on commercial breaks when I had cable TV. Former Canadian MP Terence Young provided some important insight into this, in his book titled Death by Prescription. To quote from his book, on pages 294-295 it says:
[I was] introduced to Barbara Mintzes, a researcher at UBC who had spent a great deal of time studying how Big Pharma promoted their drugs....I asked Barbara why direct-to-consumer advertising was illegal in Canada.
"Health protection," she said..."It's because people with debilitating illnesses or in pain are vulnerable to emotional appeals and exaggerated messages. So are their family members."
“What about the ads on TV now?” I asked
“You’re seeing ads on US TV channels, or Canadian ‘help seeking’ ads. Our Foods and Drugs Act was amended in 1978 to allow advertising only of name, price, and quantity. Health Canada has interpreted that to allow the pharma companies to advertise the indication (use) of the drug without the name. So we get the ads about diseases and conditions that raise fear and other emotions and say, ‘Ask your doctor. Ask your doctor.’”
“Do help-seeking ads work?”
“Yes. Very well. The pharmaceutical companies get $1.69 in new sales for every dollar spent on TV ads, and over $2 for every dollar spent on magazine ads. Our research found that three out of four doctors will give a patient a drug if they ask for it by name. But almost as many will get the drug if they just mention a drug ad they’ve seen. The doctors fill in the blanks.”
“Don’t people realize they’re being manipulated?”
“Help-seeking ads look like public service messages. That lowers people’s commercial guard. And sometimes they are broadcast or published under the asupices of a trusted patient interest group – the third-party technique- ‘caring people looking out for your welfare.’”
“The help-seeking ads I’ve seen never mention adverse reactions.”
“That’s right. Drugs are presented as if they are magic and work all the time, with no hint of side effects. By law US [direct to consumer] ads must mention potential side effects. Since the Canadian ads don’t mention a drug, or even a drug company, they don’t have to."
An article published by Mintzes and her co-authors in 2003 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), further explains the different kinds of drug ads that can appear through Canadian media. The article explains the problems with regulating these ads, and the impact these advertisements have:
There are 3 types of prescription drug advertisements aimed at the public: product claim advertisements, which include both the product name and specific therapeutic claims; reminder advertisements, which provide the name of a product without stating its use; and help-seeking advertisements, which inform consumers of new but unspecified treatment options for diseases or conditions. All 3 forms of advertising are permitted in the United States. In Canada, although all 3 forms appear to contravene the Food and Drugs Act, reminder advertisements and help-seeking advertisements are now everyday events in broadcast and print advertising, with little or no regulatory response...
The responsibility for interpreting and enforcing drug-advertising regulations lies with Health Canada. How this works in practice is complex and, because of resource limitations, involves other bodies with delegated mandates...complaints are handled only by Health Canada.
The problems with this system are evident. Advertisements can be released to the general public without being reviewed by government regulators or their delegated bodies. Response to complaints tends to be slow, probably reflecting Health Canada's undercapacity to regulate [direct to consumer advertisements] DTCA, and, arguably, ineffectual. For example, a television advertisement for Zyban (bupropion) was allowed to run for months, although Health Canada judged it to contravene the law.
The costs associated with DTCA have generated significant concerns. In the United States, investment into DTCA grew from $791 million in 1996 to $2.5 billion in 2000, representing 32% of total spending on the promotion of prescription drugs (exclusive of product sample costs). This sharp increase in spending was a result of regulatory changes that facilitated radio and television advertising of prescription drugs.
In a 2009 article by Mintzes again, published in the Canadian Family Physician (CFP) journal, she explains how influential these ads have become:
Direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of prescription drugs has increased enormously over the past decade in the United States and New Zealand, the 2 countries where it is legal. In 2005, more than $4.2 billion (US) was spent on DTCA in the United States, and Americans spent an average of 16 hours watching televised drug advertisements—far more time than they spent with family doctors.
Market research company IMS Health reviewed the returns on investment in DTCA for 49 brands from 1998 to 2003 and found that for “blockbuster” drugs, such as rofecoxib [Vioxx], companies on average obtained $3.66 per dollar invested. The key controversy is not whether DTCA stimulates sales, but whether or not this is good or bad for health, health care quality, and total health care costs.
Reflecting on those dollar amounts, if direct to consumer advertising didn't generate massive profits for the pharmaceutical companies, their spending on DTCA wouldn't have increased from $791 million in 1996, to $4.2 billion in 2005. That figure of $4.2 billion is now 14 years old, and so it's reasonable to assume those advertising expenditures have increased further.
In another CMAJ study, Mintzes and her co-authors state (emphasis mine):
Patients routinely cite the media, after physicians and pharmacists, as a key source of information on new drugs, but there has been little research on the quality of drug information presented. We assessed newspaper descriptions of drug benefits and harms, the nature of the effects described and the presence or absence of other important information that can add context and balance to a report about a new drug.
...A total of 356 articles mentioning at least 1 of the 5 study drugs appeared in 24 of Canada's largest newspapers in the year 2000. Of those articles, 193 (54%) discussed at least one harm or benefit and thus met our inclusion criteria. No article mentioned a harm without listing a benefit. Although every article contained at least one mention of a benefit, only 61 (32%) mentioned at least one harmful effect. In the 193 articles, beneficial effects (421) were mentioned 4.7 more times than harmful effects (89)...
In total, 68% of Canadian newspaper reports on the 5 drugs included in this study did not mention a single potential harmful effect, and benefits were mentioned nearly 5 times as often as harmful effects. In addition, the articles usually lacked quantitative information that would help a reader to know the likelihood that the drug would help them or the likelihood of adverse effects...
The articles commonly included quotes from satisfied patients, researchers and clinicians but rarely stated whether these people had any financial links to the manufacturer. In addition, information on contraindications, costs, and drug or nondrug alternatives was often lacking.
For most media outlets in the USA, the vast amount of their advertising funds (70+ percent in non-election years) comes from pharmaceutical companies. Recognizing that media is a business, and to stay in business they cannot lose their advertisers, the result is that talk show hosts and journalists cannot and will not go out their way to speak poorly about a pharmaceutical drug. Doing so could or would threaten their station's industry sponsorship. If a host or journalist crosses that line, even by accident or unintentionally through personal action in their private lives, they run the risk of being fired immediately. The story of reporter Mish Michaels being fired from WBGH is a good example of this.
Michaels was hired by WBGH, Boston's public television station, to be their science reporter. Prior to that, in 2011, she had testified before Massachusetts State Assembly on a parental choice bill, expressing her concerns about the vaccine safety issues she learned about from the Pace Environmental Law Review, research titled Unanswered Questions From the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Later, when this information came to light, she was fired immediately from WBGH. In response, Mish Michael's has said, “Unfortunately, my personal beliefs as a private citizen have been positioned inaccurately. I have never claimed that I don’t believe in vaccines. I am pro-safe and effective vaccines and pro scientific discovery. As a journalist, I strive to ask hard questions.”
By shutting down and firing journalists who ask valid vaccine questions, even privately in their personal lives, the mainstream discussion in the vaccine debate has become severely biased. That said, I personally believe that most talk show hosts and news journalists are completely unaware that there’s even an issue to report on, so they are not presenting bias to be evil, they simply are unaware.
Robert F Kennedy Jr, a lawyer who has been speaking out on vaccines for several years now. In a recent interview on Fox News with Tucker Carlson, Kennedy thanked Carlson for the opportunity to present his concerns. Kennedy stated that in his 10 years of speaking out on this topic, this was only the second interview that mainstream media allowed.
So, all of this relates back to safety again. The previous article opened by stating that a drug's accepted-ness by society influences that drug's use, it's overuse and improper use. As a result of bias in vaccine reporting, safety is now being affected on at least three different levels:
LEVEL 1) The personal safety of pro-choice people is under threat. Bullying is frowned upon in society today, UNLESS you are attacking a "delusional idiotic anti-vaxxer," then bullying is widely supported and ACTUALLY ENCOURAGED. Rex Murphy's video comparing the anti-vaxxers intellect to that of a "dead tree stump" is a perfect example of this. And the "anti-vaccine" attack has now surpassed bullying, it's crossing the line into full blown discrimination.
LEVEL 2) The safety and health of sick children is being SEVERELY compromised, because vaccine injured children simply cannot be allowed to exist. The manufacturers and Government claim that there is no need to conduct research on long-term health outcomes in a vaccinated population, and that there is no need to conduct targeted research on these injured children, research which might help heal them. These children have been left to suffer, and their parents have been left to figure out how to help them, on their own, with little medical support from their doctors.
LEVEL 3) The safety and health of everyone is being compromised, because the media, the health authority and our doctors are not informing us of the vaccine safety and efficacy issues that CAN and are affecting you and your children.
CONTINUE to next article Ch8: Article 4
Rex Murphy - Anti-vaxxers have the intellectual power of a dead tree stump Here
Book: Death By Prescription written by former Canadian MP Terence Young Here
Research - Canadian Newspaper Coverage of New Prescription Drugs Here
Here is a short article about a science reporter, Mish Michaels, who lost her job because of her personal actions as a private citizen. Here
Honest Reporting on the Mish Michaels Story Here
Pace Environmental Law Review - Unanswered Questions from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: A Review of Compensated Cases of Vaccine-Induced Brain Injury Here
An example of how interviews with parents always state there is no science to support the parent's statements Here
Here is a link to an interview with Robert F Kennedy Jr, by Tucker Carlson on Fox News. Kennedy states that in his 10 years of work on this issue, this is only the second time he's been permitted on a mainstream station to speak. Here
$100,000 Challenge - Again shows Censorship and the Lack of Honest Reporting Here
70% of Mainstream Media Advertising is Purchased by Pharma Here
Article Sources Specific to Discrimination Against Vaccine Refusers
Boston Globe article that says Anti-vaxxers should be hung Here
Teachers are refusing to teach unvaccinated children Here
BC nurses seek out children at school, children whose parents have purposefully not vaccinated them, which amounts to purposefully vaccinating children against the parent's wishes Here
Australia Government is refusing to provide financial support to qualifying citizens, if those citizens refuse to vaccinate their children Here
Germany fines parents who refuse to vaccinate Here