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The Bitterest Pill - the unhealthy dominance of the pharmaceuticalindustry

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    The Bitterest Pill

           the unhealthy dominance of the pharmaceutical industry

                                                             another great story from



“Science and research must be studied in the context of all the interested parties involved. The questions centre on determining the relative weight of the various allies in the ‘fact-creating’ process - e.g. funding bodies, businesses, departments of state, professions and other scientists. In analysing scientific debates, one should always ask what social, institutional and political interests lie behind often apparently ‘neutral’ and ‘technical’ knowledge claims.” 1


…a benchmark surely for those wishing to research conventional science and medicine. Personally speaking, I soon learnt that all drug companies are interested in three things only: perpetuating their own ‘fact-creating’ process on the cause and cure of disease: perpetuating those ‘Epidemic! Must Medicate! Must Vaccinate!’ headlines, which in turn, perpetuate pharmaceutical profits as we obediently line up to receive the latest ‘preventative’ or ‘cure’.

What these corporations never tell us though is that good health is dependent upon sound nutrition, sound environment, minimal toxic medical intervention and common sense.

So what is the relative weight of the interested parties involved in conventional health today?

Taking UK multi-national Glaxo SmithKline as an example, GSK sells myriad drugs for myriad conditions, ranging from cancer, diabetes and arthritis through to nicotine and alcohol cravings and various respiratory disorders. Whilst GSK states that its global mission is to improve the quality of human life, externally, its board members hold senior positions with corporations that do not have mankind’s best interests at heart, including directorships of alcohol, tobacco and chemical-pollutant conglomerates and various companies promoting high sugar and fat diets.

GSK chairman Richard Sykes is a director of Rio Tinto, a mining company with an appalling human rights record, continually exposing its workers to toxic fumes, lead, arsenic and radioactive materials, leading to cancers and other serious illness. 2

Deputy chairman Roger Hurn, along with fellow directors Ian Prosser and John Young hold key positions at chief pollutants ICI, BP-Amoco and Chevron respectively.

GSK director Donald McHenry resides on the board at Coca-Cola which is currently facing a lawsuit over allegedly triggering type-2 diabetes and GSK colleague Paul Allaire holds a senior position at ‘artery sludge’ food giant Sara Lee – which features in Multi-national Monitor’s worst 10 corporations of 2001.

This unflattering accolade was secured thanks to a Sara Lee management team that wilfully ignored listeria contamination at its Michigan meat-processing plant and allowed the continued production of thousands of poisonous hot dogs, culminating in at least twenty one deaths and one hundred serious injuries. At the hearing, an expert defence team in the shape of Michigan law firm Jenner and Block (would you believe!) brought new meaning to the terms ‘misdemeanour’ and ‘technicality’ and  successfully averted all felony charges against Sara Lee, thus ensuring the continuation of its lucrative hot dog contract with the US Dept of Defence.  And for this multiple loss of life, Sara Lee was fined only $200,000. 3

Recently retired from the GSK board is Derek Bonham, a director at Imperial Tobacco. GSK made over £470M in 2001 from various ‘stop smoking’ aids including Zyban now featuring on the BBC News website as being implicated in 6,975 adverse reactions and 57 UK user deaths. 4

GSK board member Christopher Hogg is a director at alcohol giant Allied Domecq, while the already-mentioned Ian Prosser is chairman of Bass Breweries. What part will these two gents play in the promotion of Zofran, GSK’s wonder drug to beat alcoholism? 5

GSK is also blessed with the expertise of arms dealer Dr Jean Pierre Garnier, who sits on the board of Black Hawk helicopter manufacturer United Technologies. 6

And oh yes, former executive director at GSK, Jeremy Strachan, has recently been appointed Secretary of the British Medical Association. 7


A bleak insight indeed into the cosy, anti-health, manufacturers’ end of the drug industry. But what about supply end? Who funds the medical colleges for instance?

In almost all instances, the major medical universities are funded directly from pharmaceutical coffers This understandably brings a certain pressure upon the syllabus: ie., much tutoring on profitable pharmaceutical solutions to illness and disease, little tutoring on the unprofitable relationship between nutrition and good health and even less on disease prevention and its true cure. After all, how would share-holders respond to any downturn in drug sales?

Having  spent many years working in the British Foreign Office, thriller writer John Le Carre knows the mechanics of big business. His most recent book The Constant Gardener, focuses on the corrupt nature of the pharmaceutical industry. In an interview on the subject, Le Carre stated recently:

“Big Pharma is engaged in the deliberate seduction of the medical profession, country by country, worldwide. It is spending a fortune on influencing, hiring and purchasing academic judgment to a point where, in a few years’ time, if Big Pharma continues unchecked on its present happy path, unbought medical opinion will be hard to find.” 8

Doctors are now regularly offered ‘thirty pieces of silver’ bonuses to encourage patients into trials of newer, more ‘sparkly’ drugs. Says Ismail Shalaby, chief executive of US-based Nema Medical Research Inc., “There are physicians who can now net about $500,000 to $1 million a year doing clinical research. That’s not bad.” 9 Such is the power the big boys wield over the regulatory bodies that any qualified opinion that questions a particular ‘medicine’ on its jiggery-pokery route to the public dispensary is immediately rubbished, silenced, fired or distorted by all means necessary.

Dr Michael Elashoff, a former drug evaluator at the FDA, (accent on the word former) made the mistake of questioning the efficacy GSK’s £multi-million flu drug Relenza. After painstakingly observing no difference between the groups monitored, Elashoff concluded that Relenza was “A complete failure.” Very soon after, it was suggested that it would probably be better if he left the division.  Most definitely, at the regulatory sharp end, the decision is no longer “Do we approve this drug?” Rather, it is “How?” Despite the warnings from Elashoff and others, Relenza continues to be sold and has since been linked to numerous bronchio-spasm deaths in the US, leading to a world-wide warning letter being issued by GSK advising certain groups against inhaling the powder. 10

With the over-arching marketing framework so brazenly corrupt, what about the actual science taking place within these establishments? Just how neutral are those neutral knowledge claims? Take this from the UK Independent:

FALSE SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH ‘ENDANGERING THE PUBLIC’. Doctors are fabricating research results to win grants and advance their careers but the medical establishment is failing to protect the public from the menace of these scientific frauds, a committee of medical editors said yesterday. Eighty cases of fraudulent research have been detected in the past four years, and 30 have been investigated in the past year. In some cases, institutions have covered up wrongdoing to protect reputations…” 11

Aside from the twisting of science itself, the everyday language of the medical press release can also be very misleading. In Opening Pandora's Box, science critics Gilbert and Mulkay draw attention to the abundance of double-meaning phraseology found in many 'scientific sounding' advertisements, articles and journals.  Some well-worn academic phrases that say one thing but mean another are translated as follows: : It appears that - I think: Correct within an order of magnitude – Wrong: It is generally believed - A couple of other guys think so too: It has long been known that -  I haven’t bothered to look up the references: 12

Speaking of which, how true is the statement, “It has long been known that vaccination is effective and safe.”? With MMR, DPT, meningitis, smallpox, rabies, tetanus and the flu ‘shot’ all billed as such, what should we make of the UK Prime Minister’s refusal to say whether his baby son has received the infamous MMR triple jab?  Blair’s reticence in this matter displays a strangely unsupportive role over a vaccine that spearheads his own government’s child immunisation programme.

Perhaps privately, the Blairs have looked up  the references on MMR - the vaccine that has long been known as effective and safe. If so, they will have discovered that MMR is actually a direct assault upon the child’s delicate immune system, the child being  injected with a toxic concoction of neomycin, hydrolized gelatine and sorbitol grown in a medium of chicken embryo and tissue cells harvested from an aborted human foetus’. 13 Now who in their right mind would wish that on anyone, let alone their own child?

And further influencing his decision no doubt, will be Blair's recollections of his own government’s nationally reported cover-up of 11 child deaths and 16,000 adverse reactions during the recent meningitis immunisation campaign. 14

If in this instance, the Blairs have not followed the party line on vaccination, then  they need not feel alone. Even a president has set a precedent over this issue! On a visit to the Middle East, former US president Bill Clinton refused the mandatory US army anthrax shot, the vaccine now believed to be at the root of the strange and debilitating illnesses rendering many Gulf War veterans virtually immobile.

And finally, whilst on the subject of US vaccination policy, Dr Mercola invites us to consider the link between the great rise in the number of autistic children in the US and a vaccination policy which currently oversees babies being given their first vaccine against Hepatitis B in the first two days of life and another two doses before they are 18 months old. These children also have five doses of diphtheria and tetanus, two doses of MMR, four of the Hib, one of chickenpox, four of the polio vaccine and now four doses of a vaccine to prevent ear infections before they go to school. 15

This is nothing short of pharmaceuticals gone mad.

If we care about our health, we need to stop and think and ask simple questions of a group of industies where corruption, self-serving double talk and double standards and widespread unecessary death and injury are endemic. And it really isn’t that difficult to navigate this terrain, once we sit down and actually start to think issues through to their logical conclusion. We must accept that for much of the time, we have been taught what to think about the conventional health industry, but not how. Reversing this trend will find us bowing a whole lot less at the altar of conventional medical science - the false god of our time, freeing us up to discover a whole range of non-toxic, non-invasive treatments that successfully prevent and heal the very diseases where conventional health fails miserably, including cancer, heart disease and arthritis.

A great place to start this journey of discovery is

Good health to you all in 2002!

Steven Ransom,

Research Director,

Credence Publications

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1. University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology (UMIST) research methodology    handout,  1994

2.  Rio Tinto: Associating with the wrong company

3. Corporations Behaving Badly: The Ten Worst Corporations of 2001 Russell Mokhiber and    Robert Weissman



6.  Solomon Hughes, In Health and in Sickness, The Ecologist, Oct, 2001

7.  BMA News Dec 6th, 2000

8.   The Nation, New York. Interview with John Le Carré, 9.4.2001

9.     Drug Trials Hide Conflicts for Doctors, New York Times, 16.01.2001

10.  Relenza linked to patient deaths in some cases says  maker

11.   Independent Newspapers, 13.12. 2000

12.   Gilbert & Mulkay Opening Pandora’s Box, Cambridge University Press 1984












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