Was the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now- Thomas Jefferson
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Drug War UnConstitutional
by Paul Hager
Following is a transcript of the speech I gave at the ICLU Conference. I am appending the companion notes to the end. Text between brackets  is description or commentary and not part of the actual transcript
I'd like to draw your attention to companion notes that I put together for this talk. They're located on the tables out back there, and I think that those of you who are doing CLE have them in your manuals.
Well, I'm going to attempt to descend into the murky depths of political philosophy and Constitutional analysis. At the outset, I do have a caveat: the arguments I am going to be presenting have never been endorsed by Congress or the courts and I hope that during the question and answer session we can get into this in a little bit more detail.
The thesis that I want to advance today is that the drug war and the laws that prohibit the private consumption of certain drugs are un-Constitutional. Prohibition laws, themselves, violate every tenet of limited government that is embodied in our Constitution.
To begin, let me pose a question: why was it necessary to amend the Constitution in order to prohibit the drug alcohol? And, while you are cogitating on that: how is it possible to prohibit other drugs without going through the formal amendment process? Well, I think, in order to answer these questions, it's necessary to take a look at what the Constitution is supposed to be.
At the recent confirmation hearings of Judge Clarence Thomas (uh, Clarence Thomas, by the way, -- he and I have at least two things in common: we're both ex marijuana users [chuckles from the audience], and we're both married to attorneys) -- in any case, there was a lot of discussion at the hearings about natural law and natural rights. Just about all of the participants seemed to agree that our system recognizes the existence of "inalienable" natural rights and that government exists to "secure" those rights for its citizens.
It's just as well that they agreed on that -- the architects of our system of government, in fact, had that principle in mind, and they viewed the Constitution as being a blueprint for a limited government in which those powers that were to be made available to the federal government would be listed. If a power is not listed in the Constitution, it is not supposed to be available to the Federal government. Two hundred odd years ago, when the Bill of Rights -- which we're here to celebrate -- was being debated, there were those who opposed the Bill of Rights on the grounds that, uh, they're completely unnecessary. It's redundant -- the rights already exist and therefore they don't have a place in the Constitution. In fact, they made the argument that a Bill of Rights is dangerous because at some future point in time, people would get the idea that if a right wasn't to be found in the Constitution -- like privacy -- it did not exist. Perhaps the best articulation I've ever seen of this principle is to be found in _The Federalist Papers_. [I hold up a paperback of _The Federalist Papers_.] Alexander Hamilton writing in Federalist number 84 -- and I'll just read some of this out to you. He says:
"... bills of rights, in the sense and in the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed constitution, but would even be dangerous."
And then his argument is:
"For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why for instance, should it be said, that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed? I will not contend that such a provision would confer a regulating power; but it is evident that it would furnish, to men disposed to usurp, a plausible pretence for claiming that power. They might urge with a semblance of reason, that the constitution ought not to be charged with the absurdity of providing against the abuse of an authority, which was not given, and that the provision against restraining the liberty of the press afforded a clear implication, that a power to prescribe proper regulations concerning it, was intended to be vested in the national government. This", he concluded, "may serve as a specimen of the numerous handles which would be given to the doctrine of constructive powers, by the indulgence of an injudicious zeal for bills of rights."
Good writer, Mr. Hamilton. [I gestured with the book and put it aside.] Well, anyway, as we know, Hamilton's view did not prevail and 10 of the 12 Amendments that were proposed as a Bill of Rights were ratified in December of 1791.
In order to mollify critics and meet the arguments of people like Hamilton, language was added to the Bill of Rights to address this idea of limited government and natural rights.
I just happen to have a copy of the Constitution here -- don't leave home without it [I hold up my pocket copy of the Constitution]-- and I'll read the language that bears on this.
"The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
That's the 9th Amendment, this lays out that whole idea of rights existing apart from the Constitution.
And then we have:
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
That's the 10th Amendment and that has to do with delegation of powers and the idea of limited government.
Well, let's go back to those questions. I think the answer to the first question is fairly straightforward -- this idea of alcohol prohibition. We were talking about a new power that was being acquired -- surrendered by the people and the states - and so the 18th Amendment was passed to give that power to the Federal government.
In the case of our second question -- prohibiting other drugs -- I would argue that we are talking about new powers being granted to the Federal government that have never been surrendered by the people and the states. Ergo, the drug war, prohibition laws, the DEA, the whole ball of wax, are all unconstitutional. I think what we have here is a prime example of the illegal acquisition of powers by a central government through a process of slow accretion. And this was exactly the sort of thing Hamilton was warning against back in 1787.
If it is the case the federal government can't get involved in the prohibition business, what about the state governments? Uh, I think one answer to this is to look at the right of privacy which is protected by the 9th Amendment and extended to the states by the 14th. The right has been invoked to protect privacy in such areas as family planning -- birth control -- and, at least so far, the right of privacy seems to be protecting a woman's choice whether or not to have an abortion. Furthermore, this same right should apply in matters involving an individual's decision to consume, privately, a recreational drug in his or her home.
One argument that might militate against this idea of a right of privacy taking precedence might be -- uh, well, what if the people who use drugs are infringing on the rights of other people. For example, users of cocaine and opiates. Is there a compelling state interest -- is there some kind of balancing test that we can apply that gives the state the right to intervene?
I'd like to pose a hypothetical here that we can use for the purposes of analysis. Let's posit the existence of a drug that is 100% addicting and potentiates violence in its users 100% of the time. I think we'd have a very clear case of there being a compelling state interest to get itself involved in prohibiting this drug on the grounds that the state is protecting the rights of the non-users. Well, suppose we begin reducing those percentages. Let's suppose that we're talking about a drug that is 15% addictive and potentiates violence in some lesser percentage of its users. We have an empirical answer for that:
I've just described alcohol. And, just for another for instance, let's suppose that we have a drug that is 90% addictive but doesn't seem to correlate with violence at all. Again, empirically we have an answer: I've just described cigarettes.
I would argue that pharmacological and population data can be adduced to compare alcohol and tobacco with other drugs like opiates and cocaine derivatives. And, if we do this, we find that alcohol is, in fact, more addictive than many forms of opiates and many forms of cocaine although less addictive than crack cocaine.
Furthermore, smoked tobacco is generally recognized as being the most addictive drug around. That other area, having to do with violence and anti-social behavior, once again we find that the drug that is the greatest potentiator of violent behavior is alcohol. And if we look at the other drugs like opiates and cocaine, we find that most of the violence that is associated with these drugs is associated with the black market/organized crime component of the drug trade and is not a pharmacological feature of the drug itself.
Well, I'm the political coordinator of the Hoosier Cannabis Re-legalization Coalition, and I haven't said a word about marijuana yet and I probably should -- uh -- marijuana, which is the Nation's number one illegal drug, which is estimated to have been used by over 60 million people, is recognized as being relatively non-addictive. For a point of comparison, if we look at the common drug caffeine -- which I was dosing myself with earlier today -- caffeine, which is in coffee and soft drinks, is generally recognized as being more addictive than marijuana.
Furthermore, no scientific evidence has ever been brought forth that would support the idea that marijuana leads to violent, anti-social behavior. Thus, by no stretch of the imagination is there a rational or scientific justification for marijuana prohibition and, perforce, there is no marijuana prohibition law that passes Constitutional muster. Moreover, using alcohol and tobacco as our metrics, even heroin and crack prohibition cannot be justified.
At this point, it's probably time to boldly go where no Constitutional interpreter has gone before and so I'm going to move into more speculative areas. The 1st Amendment, which protects religion and speech, I think also by extension protects thought and belief. Well, what is the seat of religion, thought and belief? [A pregnant pause.]
The brain, right? [Tapping my cranium.]
In fact, speech and belief are manifestations of the internal state of a person's brain. Science is beginning to inform us as to how chemicals and neurotransmitters, indeed the physical "wiring" of our brain defines who we are and how we think.
Unless we get involved in metaphysics I think we have to recognize that there is physical basis for belief.
Where I'm heading with this is that, if it is the case that your physical brain state determines whether you are a Methodist, an agnostic, or a Nazi then clearly the state of your brain is protected in some sense.
The question I'd like to put to you is: if it is the case that the 1st Amendment allows a person to alter his or her cognitive system by reading "Mein Kampf" -- which might well alter it permanently, you might become a Nazi for the rest of your life -- then how is it possible for the government to step in and say that a person may not temporarily alter his or her cognitive system for two or three hours by smoking a marijuana joint? [Scattered applause.] Also, another way of looking at this same thing is, what is the rationale for saying that programming your brain across the visual or aural pathways is OK but programming your brain _chemically_ across the blood-brain barrier is not?
And finally -- uh, and I think that this is the most frightening prospect in this whole thing -- consider this: if a state government can come up to you and can say, you may not pass delta-9-THC -- the principal intoxicant in marijuana - you cannot pass that across your blood-brain barrier, what is to prevent a state from saying at some point in the future, you _must_ pass drug X -- let's call it soma like in _Brave New World_ -- you must pass soma across your blood-brain barrier?
I guess what I'm arguing is that the government has intruded into your biochemical and physiological brain and in principle, once the government can do this, then in principle the government can control any part of your body.
I think I've just about wrapped up the general comments I wanted to make. One thing I might suggest: we might also talk about some specific areas where government has been in violation of Constitutional rights all at the behest of this drug war.
---------------------companion notes to talk-------------------
The Drug War and the Constitution
by Paul Hager
By focusing on the Constitutional dimension of drug prohibition, I've attempted to approach the issue from a different perspective. In claiming that the drug war and drug prohibition violate the U.S. Constitution and fundamental principles of civil liberty I am aware that there is a dearth of present day case law to support my arguments. Instead, I have relied on the writings of Hamilton, Madison, and Jay in The Federalist Papers and, to a lesser extent, selected writings of Thomas Jefferson that appear in Jefferson: Writings (Merrill D. Peterson wrote the notes and selected text, ISBN 0-940450-16-X).
I assert that current prohibitionist policy entails a grant of power to government that was never contemplated and was, in fact, explicitly rejected by the framers of the Constitution.
The Harrison Act of 1914 was the first major step by the Federal government in the direction of drug prohibition. The 18th Amendment and the enabling legislation of the Volsted Act were to come later, in 1919 and 1920 respectively. An excellent analysis of the case law interpreting the Harrison Act is to be found in Arnold S. Trebach's book, The Heroin Solution (Yale University Press, 1982, ISBN 0-300-02773-7), chapter 6. For a short overview of drug prohibition "cycles" in U.S. History, and the place of the Harrison Act in them, see "Opium, Cocaine, and Marijuana in American History", by David F. Musto, Scientific American, July 1991, volume 265, number 1.
An excellent source on the "heroin problem" and possible solutions is The Hardest Drug: Heroin and Public Policy , by John Kaplan (University of Chicago Press, 1983, ISBN 0-226-42427-8). Professor Kaplan devotes the first two chapters of the book to exploding the myths about heroin's addictiveness and dangers that have been used to justify its prohibition. Kaplan also argues that the Harrison Act was in large part responsible for the development of many of the social problems that we now associate with heroin use and considers the Act to have been a mistake. Unaccountably (given the foundation he lays), Kaplan shies away from legalization strategies completely and offers heroin maintenance programs with possible coercive treatment as his alternative to the present approach. Arnold Trebach, on the other hand, argues in his book that doctors should be allowed to prescribe heroin to addicts as needed and to include heroin in their pharmacopoeia. Trebach's legal analysis of the Harrison Act (mentioned above) is used to buttress his argument in favor of a liberal interpretion of the Act. Interestingly, Kaplan, who considers the Act to have been a mistake, favors a much more restrictive solution than does Trebach who considers the Harrison Act to have been an appropriate piece of social engineering.
On the subject of marijuana, John Kaplan is also the author of a book entitled Marijuana -- the New Prohibition (1970). Kaplan argued convincingly for marijuana decriminalization in this book. Arnold Trebach is currently the head of the Drug Policy Foundation, an organization that seeks alternatives to the drug war. The organization generally favors full legalization of marijuana but embraces a variety of opinion regarding changes in the legal status of other drugs.
The issue of "addictiveness" of drugs is complicated. The term itself has fallen into disfavor among the scientific establishment and "drug dependence" is generally preferred. I will stick with the more common term for simplicity. It turns out that the picture of addiction that is a favorite with police departments and drug czars is far from accurate.
In "The Tragedy of Needless Pain", (by Ronald Melzack, February 1990, Scientific American), scientific evidence is presented that morphine used for pain relief is not addictive. Trebach notes statistics that gave a rate of 500,000 heroin addicts and 3,500,000 "chippers" or non-addicted occasional users in the late 1970's which would mean a 12.5% addiction rate. Laboratory studies show a higher rate but these studies use medical grade, pure heroin.
In Health Consequences of Smoking: Nicotine Addiction (Surgeon General's Report, 1988), a comparison is made of the relative addictiveness of smoked tobacco and several other drugs (the 15% figure for alcohol comes from this source). The Surgeon General's Report observes that of service men who became addicted to heroin in Vietnam, aproximatedly 90% were able to avoid readdiction upon return to the U.S. The report also mentions the frequency of "chipping" in heroin use but notes that nonaddicted cigarette users are exceedingly rare. The addiction rate of 90% for cigarette smokers also derives from the Surgeon General's Report.
A more complete comparison of addictive potentional is to be found in the magazine, In Health, in an article entitled "Hooked, not Hooked" by Deborah Franklin (Nov/Dec 1990). Franklin cites addiction experts' rankings of various legal and illegal drugs as follows (p. 41):
2) "Ice" (smoked methamphetamine)
4) Crystal Meth (injected methamphetamine)
5) Valium (diazepam)
6-8) Seconal (secobarbital)
9-10) Crank (snorted methamphetamine)
15) Ecstasy (MDMA)
16-18) Psilocybin Mushrooms
(The rankings as they appear in the magazine are in the form of a bar graph -- I've converted them to a rank ordering. Note also that, although amphetamine is broken down according to the method of administration, other drugs with multiple modes of administration are not. I.V. injection will, for a number of reasons, be more addicting than oral ingestion. Concentration is also an important factor as well. Although the "potency" of heroin is considered to be 3 to 4 times that of morphine, heroin is actually diacetylmorphine -- morphine reacted with acetic anhydride. In the body, heroin breaks down to morphine in order to produce its effect. Apparently, the "potency" of heroin is the result of the ease with which heroin crosses the blood-brain barrier before it breaks down to morphine.)
The Drug Policy Letter, Vol II, number 2, Mar/Apr 1990 (a newsletter published by the Drug Policy Foundation) uses a back- of-the-envelope calculation to expose the myth that "crack is the most addictive drug known to man." It is often said that if one uses crack just once, a person is addicted. According to the NIDA-sponsored National Household Survey, 2.5 million people have tried crack, and 480,000 used it in the month prior to the survey. Even if one assumed that anyone who used the drug in the past month was an addict, that would still give an addiction rate of only 19%. Using this same method for alcohol would give a 62% rate and, for powdered cocaine a 13% addiction rate. Though this is not the sort of analysis that should be used to gauge addiction rates, it does give the lie to the "one puff and you're hooked" claim.
A number of the sources cited above present evidence that violent criminal activity associated with heroin and cocaine use is actually the result of the high cost of the drugs coupled with the low socio-economic status of inner-city addicts. In other words, violent crime is not a pharmacological feature of the drug itself but a reflection of black market economics. The same Drug Policy Letter cited above also reports on research done by Goldstein, Brownstein, Ryan, and Bellucci on the drug component of violence in New York City. They found that only a very small proportion of drug-related murders were a function of the drug itself and most of those were caused by alcohol. Heroin and other opiates, in particular, are well known to not provoke aggressive or violent behavior in people under the influence.
Two monographs by Professor Bruce L. Benson and Professor David W. Rasmussen of the Policy Sciences Program of Florida State University in Tallahassee give another view of drug use and violent crime from the perspective of incarceration rates in Florida. Benson and Rasmussen find that the overwhelming number of people who have been arrested for a drug offense have no arrest history for a violent or property crime. (See "Drug Offenders in Florida", July 1990, and "Drug Crime and Florida's Criminal Justice Problem", December 1990.) This is not the result one would expect if the drug-violent crime connection were as intertwined as apologists for the drug war would have us believe.
Notes on Additional Materials
Along with these notes, I'm including two additional items. The first is "Marijuana Myths", a collection of some typical anti-marijuana and D.A.R.E. Program falsehoods and their refutation. Each of the numbered refutation sections has an associated reference section which will allow readers to check my sources. The second item is Report #126 of the ABA Law Student Division which recommended that the ABA reverse its 18 year position favoring marijuana decriminalization. Report #126 offers no references of any kind, scientific or otherwise. This is understandable because most of its assertions are without scientific foundation. If this represents the sort of evidence that is considered acceptable for a major policy reversal of the ABA, I believe it reflects badly on the level of scholarship practiced by the national organization.
One item that appears in #126 deserves a comment. Much is made of the increased potency of marijuana. In the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, Vol. 20(1), Jan-Mar 1988, Tod Mikuriya, M.D. and Michael Aldrich, Ph.D. address this matter in "Cannabis 1988 Old Drug, New Dangers The Potency Question." In a careful piece of research, Mikuriya and Aldrich demonstrate that a review of independent, contemporary assays of imported marijuana from the early 70's show it was every bit as potent as modern domestic sensimilla varieties. (Anyone who has personal experience with Thai Sticks, Panama Red, and Oaxacan in the period from the late 60's to early 70's can attest to the potency of the imports.) They also reveal that improper DEA and police evidence handling techniques (e.g., no refrigeration of seized marijuana) led to an underestimate of street potency in the 1970s because samples degraded rather quickly in evidence warehouses.
Besides the country's illicit experience with marijuana, Mikurya and Aldrich point to the extremely potent forms of cannabis (i.e., marijuana) tonics that were in common use in the United States prior to marijuana prohibition in the 1930's. Such tonics were frequently given to children with no reported ill effects. Eli-Lilly and Parke, Davis, & Co. entered into a "joint" venture to produce a potent strain of domestic cannabis sativa for their cannabis pharmaceuticals which they called cannabis americana (note: a picture of the 1929 Parke-Davis catalogue for "Cannabis U.S.P." can be found on page 113 of Dr. Andrew Weil's book, Chocolate to Morphine: Understanding Mind-Active Drugs, written with Winifred Rosen, 1983, ISBN 0-395 -33108-0). Parke-Davis claimed uniform effectiveness for their cannabis extract at a 10 milligram dose level (the effective dose of pure delta-9-THC, the main cannabinoid, is between 25 and 50 micrograms per kilogram). For those who appreciate irony, take note that Parke-Davis, which used to make a profit from selling legal cannabis, now makes money from marketing drug testing kits which primarily detect marijuana use.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Alcohol Intoxicant Market Protectionism
excerpted from The Anti-drugwar czar
U.S. drug prohibition statutes consitute a RICO racketeering for market protection for alcohol
Its all about criminal mercantilism: market protection for alcohol as an intoxicant, and for pharamecuticles and Virginia Bright Leaf Tobacco.
But my intent here is not to focus on "medical" marijuana -- I want to focus on the real reason the vast majority of people smoke pot: for recreational intoxication. It is a subtle but essential point to state that the CSA has nothing to do with recreational intoxicants. Indeed, the specification in the Scheduling criteria that a substance has to be evaluated in terms of its medical efficacy is its Achilles' Heel. Why should a substance intended for recreational intoxication be assessed for medical utility? If I want to get high, I honestly don't care whether or not my intoxicant can double as a "medicine" of some sort.
Worse yet, given the absolute inadequacy of the CSA to address recreational intoxication, if we need to buy allergy pills or cold medicine we now have to show photo ID, and have our purchases of such items recorded and restricted. Never mind that the drug in question (pseudoephedrine) was already approved through the various "Schedules" and was proven a "safe and effective" non threatening medicine" that made it all the way to over-the-counter sales (in 1976!).
Never mind that 99.4 percent of Americans are not past year meth users. The intentions behind the CSA were to ensure that intoxicants other than alcohol would never be "legal" to manufacture, use or sell in the United States. Period
Monday, June 21, 2010
Poison Control Laws
Prior to the 'great' 20th century drug war, jurisdictions regulated certain drugs via requiring 'poison' labeling, with prescription requirments limited to such ultra potent ultra concentrated susbtances as morphine sulfate and cocaine hydrochloride.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Ed Rosenthal with Dana Beal on 'Medical Terrorists'
June 7, 2010
Ed decries 'Medical Terrorist' criminal drug war against Canmabis.
At left, Dana Beal, out on bail and facing a criminal unconstitutional prosecution by officials within Nebraska concerned not with justice but rather maintaining the criminal unconstitutional 'drug war'.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
WHO-Conflict of Interest Scandal
WHO scandal exposed: Advisors received kickbacks from H1N1 vaccine manufacturers
|Saturday, June 05, 2010|
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com
Several key advisors who urged WHO to declare a pandemic received direct financial compensation from the very same vaccine manufacturers who received a windfall of profits from the pandemic announcement. During all this, WHO refused to disclose any conflicts of interests between its top advisors and the drug companies who would financially benefit from its decisions.
All the kickbacks, in other words, were swept under the table and kept silent, and WHO somehow didn't think it was important to let the world know that it was receiving policy advice from individuals who stood to make millions of dollars when a pandemic was declared.
WHO credibility destroyedThe report was authored by Deborah Cohen (BMJ features editor), and Philip Carter, a journalist who works for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London. In their report, Cohen states, "...our investigation has revealed damaging issues. If these are not addressed, H1N1 may yet claim its biggest victim -- the credibility of the WHO and the trust in the global public health system."
In response to the report, WHO secretary-general Dr Margaret Chan defended the secrecy, saying that WHO intentionally kept the financial ties a secret in order to "...protect the integrity and independence of the members while doing this critical work... [and] also to ensure transparency."
Dr Chan apparently does not understand the meaning of the word "transparency." Then again, WHO has always twisted reality in order to serve its corporate masters, the pharmaceutical giants who profit from disease. To say that they are keeping the financial ties a secret in order to "protect the integrity" of the members is like saying we're all serving alcohol at tonight's AA meeting in order to keep everybody off the bottle.
It just flat out makes no sense.
But since when did making sense have anything to do with WHO's decision process anyway?
Even Fiona Godlee, editor of the BMJ, had harsh words for the WHO, saying, "...its credibility has been badly damaged. WHO must act now to restore its credibility."
Yet more criticism for WHOThe BMJ isn't the only medical publication criticizing WHO for its poor handling of conflicts of interest. Another report from the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly also criticized WHO, saying: "Parliamentary Assembly is alarmed about the way in which the H1N1 influenza pandemic has been handled, not only by the World Health Organization (WHO), but also by the competent health authorities at the level of the European Union and at national level." It went on to explain that WHO's actions led to "a waste of large sums of public money, and also unjustified scares and fears about health risks faced by the European public at large."
The funny thing is, NaturalNews and other natural health advocates told you all the same thing a year ago, and we didn't have to spend millions of dollars on a study to arrive at this conclusion. It was obvious to anyone who knows just how corrupt the sick-care industry really is. They'll do practically anything to make more money, including bribing WHO scientific advisors and paying them kickbacks once the vaccine sales surge.
The vaccine industry and all its drug pushers are, of course, criticizing this investigative report. They say WHO "had no choice" but to declare a pandemic and recommend vaccines, since vaccines are the only treatment option for influenza. That's a lie, of course: Vitamin D has been scientifically proven to be five times more effective than vaccines at preventing influenza infections, but WHO never recommended vitamin D to anyone.
The entire focus was on pushing more high-profit vaccines, not recommending the things that would actually help people the most. And now we know why: The more vulnerable people were to the pandemic, the more would be killed by H1N1, thereby "proving" the importance of vaccination programs.
People were kept ignorant of natural remedies, in other words, to make sure more people died and a more urgent call for mass vaccination programs could be carried out. (A few lives never gets in the way of Big Pharma profits, does it?)
How the scam really workedHere's a summary of how the WHO vaccine scam worked:
Step 1) Exaggerate the risk: WHO hypes up the pandemic risk by declaring a phase 6 pandemic even when the mortality rate of the virus was so low that it could be halted with simple vitamin D supplements.
Step 2) Urge countries to stockpile: WHO urged nations around the world to stockpile H1N1 vaccines, calling it a "public health emergency."
Step 3) Collect the cash: Countries spend billions of dollars buying and stockpiling H1N1 vaccines while Big Pharma pockets the cash.
Step 4) Get your kickbacks: WHO advisors, meanwhile, collected their kickbacks from the vaccine manufacturers. Those kickbacks were intentionally kept secret.
Step 5) Keep people afraid: In order to keep demand for the vaccines as high as possible, WHO continued to flame the fears by warning that H1N1 was extremely dangerous and everybody should continue to get vaccinated. (The CDC echoed the same message in the USA.)
This is how WHO pulled off one of the greatest vaccine pandemic scams in the last century, and it worked like gangbusters. WHO advisors walked away with loads of cash, the drug companies stockpiled huge profits, and the taxpayers of nations around the world were left saddled with useless vaccines rotting on the shelves that will soon have to be destroyed (at additional taxpayer cost, no doubt) or dumped down the drain (where they will contaminate the waterways).
Meanwhile, nobody dared tell the public the truth about vitamin D, thereby ensuring that the next pandemic will give them another opportunity to repeat the exact same scam (for yet more profit).
The criminality of the vaccine industryThe bottom line is all this is a frightening picture of just how pathetic the vaccine industry has become and how corrupt the WHO and the CDC really are. What took place here is called corruption and bribery, folks. Kickbacks were paid, lies were told and governments were swindled out of billions of dollars. These are felony crimes being committed by our global health leaders.
The real question is: Why do governments continue to allow public health organizations to be so easily corrupted by the vaccine industry? And who will stand up to this profit conspiracy that exploits members of the public as if they were profit-generating guinea pigs?
The next time you hear the WHO say anything, just remember: Their advisors are on the take from the drug companies, and just about anything you're likely to hear from the World Health Organization originates with a profit motive rather than a commitment to public health.
Oh, and by the way... for the record, there has never been a single scientific study ever published showing that H1N1 vaccines worked. Not only was the H1N1 pandemic a fraud to begin with, but the medicine they claimed treated it was also based on fraud. And now we know the rest of the story of why it was all done: Kickbacks from Big Pharma, paid to advisors who told WHO to declare a pandemic.
Sources for this story include:
Reports accuse WHO of exaggerating H1N1 threat, possible ties to drug makers
Friday, June 4, 2010; 3:52 PM
European criticism of the World Health Organization's handling of the H1N1 pandemic intensified Friday with the release of two reports that accused the agency of exaggerating the threat posed by the virus and failing to disclose possible influence by the pharmaceutical industry on its recommendations for how countries should respond.
The WHO's response caused widespread, unnecessary fear and prompted countries around the world to waste millions of dollars, according to one report. At the same time, the Geneva-based arm of the United Nations relied on advice from experts with ties to drug makers in developing the guidelines it used to encourage countries to stockpile millions of doses of antiviral medications, according to the second report.
The reports outlined the drumbeat of criticism that has arisen, primarily in Europe, of how the world's leading health organization responded to the first influenza pandemic in more than four decades.
"For WHO, its credibility has been badly damaged," wrote Fiona Godlee, the editor of the BMJ, a prominent British medical journal, that published one of the reports. "WHO must act now to restore its credibility."
A spokesman for the WHO, along with several independent experts, however, strongly disputed the reports, saying they misrepresented the seriousness of the pandemic and the WHO's response, which was carefully formulated and necessary given the potential threat.
"The idea that we declared a pandemic when there wasn't a pandemic is both historically inaccurate and downright irresponsible," said WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl in a telephone interview. "There is no doubt that this was a pandemic. To insinuate that this was not a pandemic is very disrespectful to the people who died from it."
The first report, released in Paris, came from the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which launched an investigation in response to allegations that the WHO's response to the pandemic was influenced by drug companies that make antiviral drugs and vaccines.
"The parliamentary assembly is alarmed about the way in which the H1N1 influenza pandemic has been handled, not only by the World Health Organization (WHO), but also by the competent health authorities at the level of the European Union and at national level," the 18-page draft report states.
"It is particularly troubled by some of the consequences of decisions taken and advice given leading to distortion of priorities of public health services across Europe, waste of large sums of public money, and also unjustified scares and fears about health risks faced by the European public at large," according to the report.
The second report, a joint investigation by the BMJ and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which is based in London, criticized 2004 guidelines the WHO developed based in part on the advice of three experts who received consulting fees from the two leading manufacturers of antiviral drugs used against the virus, Roche and GlaxoSmithKline.
"We are left wondering whether major public health organizations are able to effectively manage the conflicts of interest that are inherent in medical science," the report states.
Hartl dismissed those charges.
"WHO would say categorically that it believes that it has not been subject to undue conflict-of-interest. We know that some experts that come to our committees have contact with industry. It would be surprising if they didn't because the best experts are sought by all organizations," Hartl said. "We feel that the guidelines produced were certainly not subject to undue influence."
Several other experts also defended the agency.
"Twenty-twenty hindsight can always second guess the decisions of public health officials," said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the Trust for America's Health, a private nonprofit group. "But this kind of condemnation of public health officials who made the most prudent decisions based on available knowledge could well backfire in future emergencies: I fear that public health officials will draw the lesson that they should wait for greater scientific certainty before responding in the future -- and we could pay for that overcaution with many lives lost."
In response to the criticism, the WHO has launched two investigations, including one by an independent panel of experts led by Harvey Fineberg, who heads the Institute of Medicine at the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.
"These reports raise questions about potential, inappropriate influences on WHO decision-making in the assessment and response to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and, more generally, question practices employed by WHO to guard against conflict of interest among its expert advisers," Fineberg said in an e-mail. "These topics are among those that will be fully considered by our review committee."
World Health Organization Scientists Linked to Swine Flu Vaccine Makers
Investigation Raises Questions About WHO's Handling of H1N1 Pandemic
The report by Deborah Cohen, features editor of BMJ, and Philip Carter, a journalist with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London, acknowledged that flu experts do "need to work with industry to develop the best possible drugs for illnesses," but said that allowing industry experts to have a role in the formulation of public health policy was a slippery slope.
And worse, Cohen and Carter said, was the failure of WHO officials to disclose the conflicts of interest or even identify the members of its advisory committee.
In a statement, WHO's secretary-general Margaret Chan, MD, MPH, said the purpose of keeping the committee members anonymous "is to protect the integrity and independence of the members while doing this critical work — but also to ensure transparency by publicly providing the names of the members as well as information about any interest declared by them at the appropriate time."
And in the U.S. a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services defended WHO's handling of the pandemic.
"The WHO handled the outbreak in a very measured and appropriate manner," he said. "Their decisions were driven by the existing and evolving conditions at the time and what the best scientific information was telling us. It's very easy to look back through a 20-20 lens and essentially be an armchair quarterback."
Addressing the possibility of industry-influence on WHO's decisions, the spokesman said, "The WHO based its decisions on strong public health considerations and I don't think there was any indication from our perspective that their decisions were influenced by industry in any way."
The H1N1 pandemic, which will mark its one-year anniversary on June 11, "could, of course, have been far worse," Cohen and Carter wrote. "Planning for the worst while hoping for the best remains a sensible approach. But our investigation has revealed damaging issues. If these are not addressed, H1N1 may yet claim its biggest victim — the credibility of the WHO and the trust in the global public health system."
And the medical journal wasn't the only entity going on record with a critical assessment of WHO. A report from the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly published on the same day the BMJ report was released called into question WHO's handling of the H1N1 pandemic.
An official Council of Europe inquiry led by Paul Flynn , a British member of parliament, concluded that the "Parliamentary Assembly is alarmed about the way in which the H1N1 influenza pandemic has been handled, not only by the World Health Organization (WHO), but also by the competent health authorities at the level of the European Union and at national level."
Flynn's team stopped short of saying that WHO had bungled the pandemic, but did conclude that some of WHO's actions led to the "waste of large sums of public money, and also unjustified scares and fears about health risks faced by the European public at large."
Infectious disease specialists contacted by ABC News/MedPage Today agreed that the lack of disclosure was troubling, but there was little criticism of the WHO's decision declare the worldwide H1N1 outbreak a pandemic, nor were there many knocks about WHO's handling of the pandemic.
"I do find these investigations troubling, when the only way WHO could be exonerated is if there had been tens of millions dead," said John Barry, a distinguished scholar at Tulane Universityand author of The Great Influenza. "And then we'd have investigations about how ineffective they were."
"While I agree WHO should have disclosed any relationship between advisors and industry," he continued, "based on what WHO actually did, I find it absurd to accuse them of having been influenced by the drug industry. Antivirals, though hardly a magic bullet, are the only drug option. And a recommendation to stockpile them was the only option."
Bartlett said he was not an authority on influenza, but added, "The colleagues I know who do this work often/usually have these connections, but that is usually good for better pharma and good for better WHO advice."
Addressing concerns that the pandemic was declared to profit pharmaceutical companies, Barry said that "if anything WHO was slow to make that call. And if you know anything about the history of the influenza virus, again it had no option. 1918 saw a very mild spring wave, quite comparable to what we experienced in 2009. It turned virulent months later."
"This is a classic case of 20-20 hindsight, with some witch hunting thrown in," Barry said.
Dr. John Treanor, a vaccine expert at the University of RochesterMedical Center, in Rochester, N.Y., agreed that WHO's preparations were justified.
"I think even the authors [of the BMJ report] would have to agree that there really was no choice here but to prepare for a pandemic," he said. "If there had been a severe pandemic and there had been no preparations, the outcome (and the outcry) would have been far worse."
World Health Organization and H1N1 Flu Although some of the WHO's advisors received compensation from manufacturers of the same antivirals and vaccines recommended for use during the H1N1 pandemic, Treanor noted that there are few options available for combating influenza.
"You can tweak the plans — how much antivirals, what kinds, where is the vaccine coming from, who should be vaccinated first, should you close schools, etc. — but the basic elements are going to be the same," he said. "So I don't see the argument here as whether WHO made the right recommendation at the time, regardless of who was advising them — they clearly did."
Arthur Reingold, MD, head of the division of epidemiology at the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health and head of the California Emerging Infections Program, said, "WHO would have received identical advice [regarding] the need to stockpile antiviral drugs and speed the development of vaccines from any competent expert in the field without industry ties."
But not all researchers were willing to give WHO a free pass on its handling of H1N1. Henry Miller, MD, a biotechnology expert at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, said WHO made a number of mistakes, and its declaration of a pandemic was one of them.
That said, Miller added, "the stockpiling of anti-flu medicines and the production of vaccine weren't among [WHO's mistakes]."
Cohen and Carter detailed WHO's pandemic influenza preparation starting in 1999, when a preparedness plan was drafted by six researchers in collaboration with the European Scientific Working Group on Influenza (ESWI). Over the next decade, according to their investigation, WHO failed to disclose industry ties among researchers advising the organization.
The document drafted in 1999 did not include information on conflicts of interest. Cohen and Carter pointed out that ESWI is funded entirely by Roche, which makes Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and that two of the authors of the document had participated in Roche-sponsored events in the previous year. Both were also involved in a randomized controlled trial of Tamiflu supported by the company.
In 2002, WHO called together flu experts to craft guidelines for the use of vaccines and antivirals during an influenza pandemic. The panel included representatives of Roche and Aventis Pasteur (now Sanofi-Pasteur), which makes flu vaccine, and three experts who had been named in marketing material for Tamiflu.
The resulting report, which advised stockpiling antivirals, was published in 2004, and the main author, Frederick Hayden, MD, of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, confirmed that Roche was paying him for lectures and consulting when the report was produced and published.
Several additions to the report did not include information about conflicts of interest, according to Cohen and Carter.
"WHO has failed to provide any details about whether such conflicts were declared by the relevant experts and what, if anything, was done about them," they wrote.
Compounding this lack of transparency is the fact that the 16 members of the emergency committee that has been advising WHO during the H1N1 pandemic have remained anonymous, at least officially. The chair is known to be John MacKenzie of Curtin University in Perth, Australia.
The BMJ investigation turned up another three members, including Arnold Monto, M.D., of the University of Michigan School of Public Health; John Wood, Ph.D., of the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control in the U.K.; and Masato Tashiro, M.D., Ph.D., director of the WHO collaborating center for surveillance and research on influenza in Tokyo.
Wood and Tashiro said they have no conflicts of interest, but Monto has received speaker's fees from GlaxoSmithKline, maker of another antiviral, Relenza (zanamivir).
According to the University of Rochester's Treanor, the important issue to consider is not whether WHO made the right decisions about the H1N1 pandemic — because he believes they made the right recommendations at the time — but "the much more tricky and generic question about how to appropriately separate the interests of the pharmaceutical industry from the interests of public health, while at the same time being able to take advantage of existing expertise on the issues, the bulk of which resides in individuals with some kind of ties to industry."
"In our current system of healthcare," Treanor said, "the responsibility for demonstrating that these interventions are safe and effective lies with the manufacturer. Hence, individuals with the greatest experience and insight into these interventions will almost always either be employees of industry or individuals paid by industry to conduct studies."
However, according to Philip Alcabes, associate professor of epidemiology at City University of New York Hunter College, investigations should go far beyond the question of whether potential links to drug companies went unpublicized.
"Even when nobody is directly in the pay of a corporation, policy decisions are too-often made by members of the Big Public Health party," said Alcabes. "H1N1 flu was a great example." When evaluating advice from a panel of experts, Treanor said it's important to consider the fact that researcher's will always view the products they do work on in a positive light, even if they weren't paid by industry.
"After all," Treanor said, "it's much more fun to be involved in the development of an effective product than one that doesn't work."
Finally, Dr. Donald A. Henderson, who served for three years as Director of the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness in the Bush administration and who is perhaps best known for his role in leading the effort to eradicate smallpox, brings the perspective of long experience to analysis of WHO's handling of H1N1.
Henderson, who is now a professor of medicine and public health at the University of Pittsburgh, agreed that too much antivirals were stockpiled and too many vaccines produced, and when that happens the body politic demands "someone or some organization must be blamed -- in this case, WHO has been named, and its policy of using experts who may not have disclosed possible relationships with relevant pharmaceutical companies. However, WHO is not an authoritarian and all-knowledgeable body as witness the fact that a number of different countries (e.g. USA, U.K., Sweden, Canada and a number of others) convened their own expert committees and reached different conclusions as to how much vaccine and antiviral products they would buy and policies for their use.
"So, why is WHO singled out? Each national body and expert group is more comfortable ascribing mistakes in strategy or policy to someone else. WHO is a handy whipping post. I would characterize this focus on WHO as a 'cheap shot.'"