The Pharmaceutical Reach Government Influenced by Industry

Chapter 9: Article 1


On the OpenSecrets.org website, a not for profit organization, they explain in detail the amounts of money spent on lobbying in the USA by the various industries.

Is lobbying something we need to pay attention to? Definitely!

On their website, they explain their mission as follows (emphasis mine):

Nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit, the Center for Responsive Politics is the nation's premier research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy. OUR VISION is for Americans to be empowered by access to clear and unbiased information about money’s role in politics and policy and to use that knowledge to strengthen our democracy. OUR MISSION is to produce and disseminate peerless data and analysis on money in politics to inform and engage Americans, champion transparency, and expose disproportionate or undue influence on public policy.

From their data you can see that every single year for the past 18 years, the industry labelled "Pharmaceuticals/Healthcare Products" has outspent all other industries in political lobbying. 18 years ago Tobacco held that title. The OpenSecrets website states (emphasis mine):

Pharmaceutical companies...policy goals include resisting government-run health care, ensuring a quicker approval process for drugs and products entering the marketand strengthening intellectual property protections.

...One piece of legislation the industry has lobbied heavily on recently is the 21st Century Cures Act. The bill, which passed the House, would encourage the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to rely less on randomized controlled trials when deciding whether or not to put a new drug on the market. Critics argue that this would all but guarantee that more drugs will hit pharmacy shelves at a faster pace, though potentially at the expense of patient safety.

Research which examined lobbying by Merck states (emphasis mine):

In June 2006, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV)... A remarkable burst of legislative activity followed. Within a year, legislation relating to the vaccine was introduced in 41 states and the District of Columbia, including bills in 24 states that would mandate HPV vaccination for 6th-grade girls.

The paper goes on to explain Merck's intent behind their lobbying (emphasis mine):

Merck engaged in direct lobbying to varying degrees in all of the states we studied. Merck proactively contacted legislators to discuss strategies to maximize uptake of Gardasil, either directly through company employees or by using local political consultants, prominent physicians, or public relations firms.

Many respondents reported that company representatives proposed specific legislation, often drafting the bills and searching for a sponsor. In most states, their efforts focused on a school-entry mandate. Respondents pointed out that Merck’s activities were not unusual, although the public seemed to have been unaware that private companies played such a role in the legislative process. One commented, “Just about every vaccine mandate that we have lately has been the result, at least partially, of the drug industry’s efforts.”

It seems that the driving force behind vaccine mandates does NOT come from the Health Authority as a result of the dire concern health officials have over a specific illness. Rather, it seems that the pharmaceutical companies proactively generate fear about illnesses, to then motivate doctors and states to want to vaccinate against those illnesses with the vaccines they have recently created. The paper points out this tactic has been used with drugs in the past, stating (emphasis mine):

A California governmental respondent related a historical analogy concerning Fosamax, Merck’s drug for prevention of osteoporotic fractures:

"They created this paranoia about fracture risk and applied it to a much bigger market. I think that they very successfully did the same thing with Gardasil. . . . They pumped up the level of fear among clinicians about the impact of HPV."

...One concern, expressed by several health officials and representatives of groups ofhealth experts, was that Merck’s strategy involved an end run around health departments. Although in some states, most notably New Hampshire, there was extensive communication between Merck and the state immunization program, in others, respondents complained that Merck took its message directly to the public or legislature without involving public health officials.

One group in particular that Merck targeted specifically, with their lobbying efforts, was Women In Government (WIG). Merck sen WIG representatives to vacation destinations. The research paper states (emphasis mine):

Merck mobilized legislators to introduce a school-entry mandate and other legislation relating to the HPV vaccine, primarily through Women in Government (WIG), a national, nonprofit group of female state legislators. WIG had identified cervical cancer as a priority issue as early as 2003. Merck contributed unrestricted educational grants to WIG, which, among other things, covered the expenses of dozens of legislators to attend conferences on cervical cancer at appealing destinationsconvened by WIG and attended by Merck representatives.

...The concern respondents expressed over financial entanglements between Merck and legislators was centrally a concern about transparency... Policymakers tended to be most disturbed by Merck’s nontransparent roles, such as giving financial contributions to WIG and other interest groups that were not publicly disclosed

Let's look more closely at PowerPoint presentation prepared for the Women in Government. The presentation was titled Healthcare and Vaccine Wars in the 21st Century, and was about improving state policy to achieve higher vaccination rates across the country.

Three key slides from the presentation explain that generating fear is an important part of increasing vaccination uptake. On slide 19 you will see it states that a positive "tipping point" in vaccine uptake will occur, when officials "create a compelling meta-narrative for action...like what?"  it asks. That question is followed by a slide that states, "HPV is a sexually transmitted cancer" and the following slide shows the dying limbs of a "39 year old single mom of three." Based on the state of her limbs in the image, it's likely that they required amputation (likely as a result of the illness meningitis).

The slides are clearly encouraging legislators to use scary storytelling with a master idea - that being that the stories need to generate as much fear as possible, to create a tipping point in favour of vaccines.

But what's really shocking is at the conclusion of the presentation, on slide 33, the presentation asks (emphasis mine):

If a private donor could be identifies [sic] who would provide each of you a $1,000,000 grant IF you developed legislation and policies that materially improved the health of your states and communities – could/would you do it?

The quotations around the word "grant" were in the presentation, they weren't my doing. That innuendo in that word choice, the question, "could/would you do it?" are indication that they are being offered a bribe, a $1,000,000 bribe. 

Pharmaceutical companies lobby elected political representatives, NOT to improve public health. Rather, their intent is to "maximize uptake" of their drugs and vaccines, to maximize their profits. Remember the situation with Vioxx, another Merck drug where early testing showed that that drug was likely triggering heart attacks and deaths. The HPV/lobbying research paper stated:

"Many respondents were aware that the business practices of pharmaceutical manufacturers were of great public concern at the time legislators took up the issue of school-entry mandates for Gardasil. The legislative debates came on the heels of the Vioxx and Celebrex controversies and several large pharmaceutical fraud settlements.

In the very first article written here on this website, I explained the teachings of Dr. Marcia Angell, a Harvard professor and former Editor-In-Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine. She has repeatedly stated that we cannot trust medial journals and the research published within, because they have been compromised by the pharmaceutical industry. In a lecture she gave titled, The Truth About the Drug Companies, she stated (emphasis mine):

Public esteem for the pharmaceutical industry, in the US, is only slightly higher than for the tobacco companies. Adding to the sinking reputation of the industry, is the fact that nearly every large drug company, has recently paid huge fines to settle charges of illegal activities. This year, Pfizer pleaded guilty, to charges of fraudulently marketing drugs, and was fined 2.3 billion...which included the largest criminal fine ever levied against any company. Pfizer's not unique. Most of the big drug companies have been charged with similar kinds of illegal practices. Moreover, several top selling drugs, such as Vioxx were promoted widely, after they were known to be unsafe, and in some cases, the manufacturers deliberately suppressed information about the risks.Now, what does the pharmaceutical industry say for itself? It presents itself very differently, as a public spirited, scientific enterprise.

On January 6, 2020, during a protest in Trenton, NJ, prominent lawyer Robert F Kennedy Jr, explained to the crowd how corrupt the pharmaceutical companies are, and how legislators are improperly influenced by them. He stated:

All four of the companies that make all 72 of the vaccines, that [the government] wants to mandate against our will...to our children, every one of those companies is a convicted felon. Not only are they a convicted felon, but they are repeat felons. They're not just repeat felons, they are serial felons. This is their business plan, its to commit felonies.

Those four companies since 2009, in 10 years, have paid $35 billion in penalties, in fines, in damages, for falsifying science, for defrauding regulators, for killing hundreds of thousands of Americans, with drugs that they marketed as safe, and that they were lying about.

Merck...with Vioxx which was its blockbuster drug, killed 500,000 Americans. This is a drug that Merck marketed as a headache pill, when they knew that it caused heart attacks. They knew that from their clinical data. They knew and they discussed it internally, that they were going to kill hundreds of thousands of Americans with this drug. But they said to themselves, it's okay because even if they sue us, we will still make more money by selling this drug. They made that calculation.

...And by the way, [vaccines are] the one medical product that they can never get caught because there are no lawsuits. They have compete immunity, no matter [what], even if they did get caught there would be no consequences, because the federal government - the congress rolling in pharmaceutical money - gave them immunity from liability...So there are no mass tort litigations, there are no class action lawsuits, there is no discovery, there is no depositions.

...[that] $35 billion that those four companies paid, in every case, the reason why they were criminally prosecuted is because a private plaintiff's attorney, representing an injured client, who was injured by that company's drug, conducted discovery, found incriminating documents that showed criminal behaviour, and took those documents and walked them down to the US Attorney's office, and said to the US Attorney, you ought to prosecute them for this. The only place that can never happen is for vaccines, because you can't sue them. So there will never be a lawsuit. So these companies have zero incentive to make their product safe.

Always remember that the primary driving force behind vaccine lobbying is to increase private gain, not public benefit. Industries lobby government officials, to ensure that those elected leaders then push forth legislation that is beneficial and profitable to the company and shareholders. If lobbying did not achieve that desired result, there simply would be no point in lobbying. In the last 20 years, pharmaceutical manufacturers have nearly quadrupled their lobbying expenditure, spending $49 million in 1998, compared to $171 million in 2017.

The HPV lobbying research stated (emphasis mine):

...it emerged strongly from our interviews that the terms of the debate were set very early on by Merck’s effective communication of its position favoring school-entry mandates. Information gathering from a broader range of sources, including public health experts, might have led to a different policy agenda.

In other words, Merck's goal was to maximize vaccine uptake and their profits, and to achieve that required a school-entry mandate. If public health officials had been the ones pursuing a strategy to improve HPV health outcomes, that strategy, likely would have looked much different compared to what was drafted and lobbied by Merck.

CONTINUE to the next article Ch9: Article 2

Article Sources

  • A listing of the various industries that lobby USA government, and the amount of money each industry spends to influence our politicians. All lobbying expenditure data presented on this website comes from the Senate Office of Public Records Here

  • The effect of lobbying on HPV vaccination school mandates Here

  • Dr. Gregory Polland Presentation to WIG - $1,000,000 bribe Here

  • Dr. Marcia Angell Lecture - The Truth About Drug Companies Here

  • Robert F Kennedy Jr says vaccine makers are serial felons. Protest in New Jersey Here

  • Vioxx killed 500,000 Americans Here

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