Swine Flu Response 1976 and 2009: What have we learned? At least one doctor gets it right in congress
Posted Apr 28 2009 12:00am
“We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost.”
Stirring words delivered by the newly sworn President Obama in his inaugural address.
The focus of science on commerce and industry has too often been with little if any regard for public benefit and safety. This has been exemplified the past decade by arthritic drugs like Vioxx and diabetic drugs like Avandia that each resulted in increased deaths from heart disease.
Countless injuries, extra hospitalizations and even deaths have resulted from blood supplies not properly screened by the American Red Cross. This in spite of numerous and repeated warnings just to follow established and agreed upon safety procedures continually ignored throughout this past decade under the Republican Bush administration the same as during the decade before under the Democratic Clinton administration.
These are but a few of many instances of science with more emphasis on commercial benefit to industry rather than for public benefit.
Call to arms
The new president has called for public comment in matters regarding health care.
“This year is a golden opportunity as this summer is the 50th anniversary of National Institute of Health researchers discovering a key that I have proven by application,” wrote this columnist to the White House regarding diabetes that is undergoing explosive growth in this nation the past decade. This was part of my response to the call of President Obama for health reform input and with regard to his words to “wield technology’s wonders to raise health care quality and lower its cost”.
“This is easily documentable medically and scientifically in days for some, in weeks for many, and in three months for others,” wrote this columnist in part about my own “health reform work through four decades … at the grass roots level.”
“You could call me a community organizer,” my correspondence noted.
Savings to “the American people more than $100 billion on health care annually” based upon recent government figures were noted to be “likely much more – for less than $25 per month for each American.”
More detail was included in this response to the presidential call to arms.
“This is the single, most important health discovery made to date though very few know very much about it and most of what those few know about it is wrong,” was noted in conclusion about this government sponsored finding at the National Institutes of Health 50 years ago with extensive documentation building up this past half-century.
It has been more than two months without response.
Devil in the details?
A closer scrutiny to the inaugural words by President Obama may be in order.
It could be questioned just how much “technology’s wonders” have been used “to raise health care’s quality”.
It is without question that the wielding of “technology’s wonders” with regard to health care has not been known to “lower its cost”.
The health care (or rather sick care) industry makes much of the high cost of research. What you don’t hear is how much of that cost is covered by government funding and extensive subsidies i.e. taxpayer dollars from the public. Yet the public’s “reward” is to get fleeced by the ravenous wolves of the sick care industry.
The 10 pharmaceutical companies on the Fortune 500 had greater combined profits than all the other 490 companies combined as disclosed by Dr. Marcia Angell from Harvard University (alma mater of President Obama). Dr. Angell was also formerly editor of the New England Journal of Medicine that is recognized as one of the premier medical journals in the world.
Much has been made of the greed of the banking industry by President Obama. Their greed is but a vapor in the wind when compared to that of the sick care industry – which is never addressed though rationales (excuses/lies) are abundant.
Profits increase more than twice the rate of inflation year after year – often far in excess of twice the rate of inflation.
The health care industry is one of the only ones that as a whole has been noted to uniquely remain profitable in the current and far-reaching economic downturn. Several multi-billion dollar acquisitions have been made in the industry. Profits are being maintained at least in part due to industry greed as evidenced by the tens of thousands of lower level layoffs by these companies who have profit margins that continue to excel.
The question must be asked: Is President Obama being conned or is he in on the con?
The solution offered by the president is health insurance for all. The primary criticism of this is that will hurt doctors. One group this will not hurt at all is the medical drug and device providers. Such solution would guarantee more sales of drugs and devices to more people than ever before guaranteeing their already-more-profitable-than-any-other industry to have even greater profits than ever before.
President Obama hails from the state that is headquarters to the American Medical Association which has evidenced more concern for relieving pocketbooks of the public than offering relief to the pocketbooks of the public.
The primary interest in nutrition by the AMA has been in preventing nutritional care from impacting medical interests.
His fellow U.S. Senator from Illinois when the President filled a Senate seat was Dick Durbin (one of the highest ranking U.S. Senators). It seems that Sen. Durbin never met a nutritional supplement that he didn’t hate.
The state of New Jersey overwhelmingly supported Obama in his ascent to the presidency. That is also the nation’s headquarters for national headquarters of pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers.
Is President Obama being conned or is he in on the con?
Last month the president called for consideration of a food safety agency noting that food laws have not been revamped in more than a century. The problem is not that the laws have not been updated but rather that they have for the most part not been enforced for the better part of the last century.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that bleached, refined white flour was a violation of the Pure Food & Drug Act almost 100 years ago. Yet, this “food” item makes up 20 per cent of the average American diet according to recent federal government figures.
More than 90 per cent of the essential mineral nutrients chromium, selenium and silicon are removed in the production of this illegal substance commonly consumed by Americans. The whole grains from which this “food” stuff derives would otherwise constitute the primary source of these three elements. The lack of these three elements is also intricately linked to blood sugar metabolism, heart health, cancer and birth defects, just to name a few that include the biggest killers of Americans.
The presidential announcement for a separate food safety agency was made at the same time as his selection of Dr. Margaret Hamburg to head up the FDA and Dr. Joshua Sharfstein as her chief deputy.
The president was lauded for going outside the agency. Yet, the revolving door between the agency and the industries it oversees (allegedly) has been well documented for decades. So the praised assessment is a most inaccurate one.
Dr. Hamburg was lauded for her work on the government advisory board that resulted in the Department of Homeland Security, specifically that she “helped lay the groundwork for the government’s bioterrorism and flu pandemic preparations”.
This resulted primarily in stockpiling the drug Tamiflu.
Less than three weeks before the nomination of Hamburg a news headline noted the folly and failure of this foundation for flu pandemic preparations.
Experts were noted urging governments “to diversify their stockpiles of drugs and called for more new medicines to fight what could be the world’s next flu pandemic”.
Notably absent from this news story was Tamiflu – by name. The news noted “oseltamivir has proven to be largely useless”. Not once noted with the multiple references to ‘oseltamivir’ is the fact that is the chemical name for the brand named Tamiflu.
“We have been extremely foolish on our policies of stockpiling drugs,” said virologist Robert Webster of St. Jude Children’s Hospital at a medical conference in Hong Kong at which he also noted resistance to this flu drug as high as 98 per cent worldwide.
Do you suppose a refund will be forthcoming to the government (read ‘taxpayers’) for this faulty product?
Should Hamburg have known? This columnist knew and wrote of it at that time, and has chronicled the subsequent unraveling of Tamiflu and this terrible truth about it – a truth still too little noted let alone noticed.
Another noted as praising the decision of Hamburg was Gail Cassell who was a fellow advisory board member for establishing DHS. He was (and is) an Eli Lilly & Co. vice president. Their advisory board service resulted in a provision exempting Eli Lilly from liability for damages caused by their Thimerosol mercury ingredient.
Public outcry against this was so great that this provision was later removed.
Do you have warm fuzzies about this alleged “outsider” heading up oversight of drug companies?
The chief deputy nomination of Dr. Sharfstein is that of a pediatrician (another Harvard grad) who has served as a senior policy aide to Rep. Henry Waxman – who lobbied on behalf of Sharfstein for this position.
Rep. Waxman is the new chairman of the House Committee with oversight on health including the FDA.
Waxman is also the House equivalent of Sen. Durbin with regard to never having met a nutritional supplement that he didn’t hate – except his actions against nutritional supplements exceed those of his senatorial counterpart and he is actually in charge of the committee that would oversee such matters.
How are your warm fuzzies doing?
Again, is President Obama being conned or is he in on the con?
There has been criticism of the new president for having a weak history when it comes to accomplishments.
It looks like his weakness is history.
A 19th century statesman of renown noted that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
President Obama should check out the boo namesake of the Wiley Act of 1906 AKA the Pure Food & Drug Act that Obama seeks to supplant by replacement rather than to support by providing too long ignored enforcement. Dr. Wiley is also referred to as ‘Father of the FDA’ by the FDA though they desecrate his memory every time they open their doors. Wiley also wrote extensively against the FDA for not doing their job – the more things change the more they stay the same.
Next the new president should do some serious study into the life and unparalleled (and unsurpassed) scientific achievements of Dr. Antoine Béchamp. The anniversary just passed during these first 100 days in office for the new president of the passing of Béchamp, the all time greatest of all scientists almost 100 years ago.
These histories under the new president’s belt would enable stirring actions to his stirring words, “We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost.”
Christopher C. Barr writes Naturally Speaking from Arkansas: The Natural State … naturally! You may write him at P. O. Box 1147, Pocahontas, Arkansas 72455 or by e-mail at servantofYHVH@hotmail.com .