Rest in Dissent

January, 19, 2019 | 26 Comments


  1. Another powerful post!
    This seems to paint such a true picture of the present state of affairs in the UK – Brexit, of course, being at the centre of matters and, it would seem, in the forefront of all of our minds. Why do such matters – be it Brexit, the NHS or any of the other burning matters presently on the UK plate – have to ALWAYS bring out the very worst behaviour in humans? We seem to revel on conflict, often fired up by the media, but seem reluctant to find ways of improving situations.
    The latest ‘bulletin of fear’ concerns the feared lack of certain medications here; certain painkillers, epilepsy drugs and antidepressants being on the list. In their reports, which usually start with the fact that prescribed meds. COULD become more difficult and costly to prescribe, they lead on to a message that this MAY have something to do with Brexit. Next, they show that this type of situation OFTEN occurs and now showing a slight increase. They end by telling people not to go for their prescriptions sooner than necessary to avoid stockpiling! Never in my life have I seen a surer way of creating panic among those whose lives depend on their drugs and I fear that doctors will be busier than ever with their prescription pads!
    To return to the Brexit saga – whether we are leavers or remainers – the present situation is hopeless. On the one side we have a person who stands for what she sees as the RIGHT path trying to persuade all others that her way IS the right way by refusing to consider much of what others around her have to say. On the other side, we have such a variety of considerations that could come into the mix that the whole thing sounds more like a recipe for forgetting the whole idea rather than a ‘workable deal’.
    Where it will end will, possibly, become clearer next week. Mind you, we’ve been saying that for the last two years without things becoming any clearer! Such a mess has never been seen (thankfully) by any of us before.
    Where do we, the public, stand in all this? We are as divided as the politicians as far as I can see. We all – and that includes the politicians – think that it’s easier to blame someone else for all that goes on rather than properly discuss the points of view being put across by others. Joe public remainers blame the leavers and vice versa; in parliament the right blames the left and vice versa; political parties are split within their own groups and ALL will blame the EU for DARING not to let the UK leave on ITS OWN TERMS! How ridiculous!
    We could compare this whole scenario to many other situations that often crop up here. The only point that I can see as a common thread is the fact that ‘power'(financial or otherwise) for any individual or group seems to be the main aim, by fair means or foul, and to be fought for by all means without a care for the suffering of the others.
    If only we could change humanity to become ‘strong’ with humility and to ‘succeed’ by seeing the lives of others made better – to ‘listen’ rather than reject outright. This would be possible if we accepted that every story has two sides and that accepting the one side does not necessarily mean that you are rejecting every single thing that the other side has to say. It’s called CO-OPERATION – an ingredient missing in many areas of our lives today!

    • Below, I mention the Gilets Jaunes who are also demanding Frexit. Reality of course is that Europe is becoming more and more chaotic as the EU institutions become more egregious and oppressive (I write as a former Remainer) notably with its official declaration last year that vaccines are safe (apparently all products for all time – Gessler’s hat has nothing on it) and the copyright reform initiative, which is set to abolish reproducing links or even quoting text on the web. No one understands all this stuff in the UK but it is on the radar of this popular French movement. No doubt the institutions are shaking themselves apart anyway. Men, dressed in a little brief authority – but perhaps good order will not be the result.

  2. I recall attending an Amnesty International talk in the mid-70s by Havel’s friend (Sir) Tom Stoppard on the subject of forced psychiatric medication for political prisoners in the Soviet Union – Stoppard was quick to say that while there were issues about medication and incarceration in Western psychiatric hospital it was a different issue (which perhaps it was) but likely he did not foresee how forty years on the extent to which pharma has become the political system – not perhaps that his wife at that period Miriam would go on to become married to Sir Christopher Hogg, founding chairman of GSK. Vera Sharav writes:

    “Reuters’ previous CEO, Sir Christopher Hogg, was Chairman of GSK in 2004, while also a non-executive director of Merck.[172] His wife, Dr. Miriam Stoppard, is The Daily Mirror’s health adviser in residence. Her promotional articles go under such titles as: “Parents Must Put Their Faith In MMR,” in which she reassured parents: “The triple vaccine can’t overload your baby’s immune system, which we know is capable of dealing with 10,000 jabs.”

    “On her own corporate website she states unabashedly: “The name Miriam Stoppard stands for accessible, practical, caring, authoritative, credible, and reassuring advice. In other words, “the thinking has been done for you!””

    But also even now libertarian organsations Amnesty and Liberty seem oblivious of the issue. In the last decade when I tried to engage at a reception the ear of the Director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, concerning the persecution of psychologist Lisa Blakemore- Brown she just rolled her eyeballs with contempt.

    Nor, in 2018, did I receive a welcome when I tried to raise some of these issues on Open Democracy which under the patronage of George Soros traces its origins to Havel’s Charter 77. We are having difficulty getting used to the idea that health liberty is part of liberty – it is somehow supposed to be separate but actually it is rapidly becoming the most fundamental vehicle of political oppression, particularly in so-called Western Democracies. Soon you will not be able to move an inch without getting all your shots.

    Maybe the Gilets Jaunes in France are just beginning to cotton on. Clause 8 of their charter calls for banning of “lobbies and other networks of influence …bring an end to accumulating offices”. Clause 16 guaranteeing freedom from interference in “teaching, education, health, the family”. Clause 19 to weaken the influence of pharmaceutical laboratories (presumably companies).

  3. – where the hell is the outrage?

    Frankly I don’t think I would dare to write a novel with a plot so completely outrageous. Surely someone, somewhere, would be punished for this behaviour. Surely the paper would be retracted. Surely a co-author of such a study would not be in line for a prestigious position. Surely the public would rise up in outrage.
    In truth, it seems, nothing is going to happen at all. I must dig out 1984 and read it again, just to depress myself even further.

    Malcolm Kendrick, Scottish Doctor

    We are told incessantly that Doctors’ Burnout is increasing
    They are stressed, have mental problems and are suicidal

    GSK is not about selling anything as crass as a product, but ensuring that the Seroxat brand name is imprinted deeper into a consumers’ brain. It’s selling a philosophy.

    Time for the little guy to take back control …

  4. “It doesn’t do us any good not to grasp the crisis that we face.  We have to see reality for what it is and then we have to resist.  You can’t use the word hope if you don’t resist.  The very act of resistance, or rebellion, at that moment makes you a free human being.  If we are going to resist successfully we are going to have to do so believing, as Berrigan says, that the good draws to it the good, even if empirically everything around us gets worse.”
    – Chris Hedges

  5. David”s message is very poignant – the same day it was published with his pointing out ‘that we rarely stand together for long’ – the funeral of the Mayor of Gadansk who was killed by a man with fanatically different views to his was taking place in Poland. We probably won’t get to know the reasons why he took such a violent action and of course the man is being described as mentally ill,but when people aren’t listened to by cliques in power they will often turn to rage as is happening all over the globe. It is the innocent and vulnerable who suffer most from power games , when one lot moves on another takes their place.

    And it is the innocent who are suffering as far as lack of health services are concerned – The same day the chair of the college of GP’s was all over the media expressing ‘shock and surprise’ at the difference between parts of England regarding access to GPs. What is shocking and surprising is that Helen Stokes Lambard made such a claim . Surely she and the college have been aware of the situation for years not just incredibly as a result of a recent BBC survey. When people hear such disingenuous statements it just brings the ‘leaders’ into more disrepute.
    HSL grew up in Swansea so must know how dire the situation is in Wales ,but there was no mention of Wales in the survey.

    The public needs spokespeople who don’t just dish out carefully engineered soundbites. HSL according to Wikipedia opened a private HPV vaccine clinic in 2008. It’s not been possible to check that as there is no reference to it on a google search and she never refers to it in speeches or on line on her twitterings or in interviews.
    However private clinic or not some years late HSL is a virulent campaigner against those who question vaccinations.

    ‘Anti vaxxers are spreading false claims as people die of measles – as a GP I know how vital it is to regulate online misinformation and reasure patients’. (re Guardian on line )

    She would possibly not be too pleased to see that her Wipedia entry has a link to much negative information on the vaccines she is is promoting and has provided privately ,apparently.

    The shortage of GPs is forcing them to accept different ways of working but collaboration still means to those who have reached ‘the top’ that they ‘lead’ – Allied proffessionals are not allied to GPs but are professionals in their own right – yet HSL and others describe them as being valuable and even ‘utilised’ as support for medics. That is not a collaborative model it still relies on hierachies who hold on to control.

    Hopefully overtime as more non medics start taking equal roles even the only role in desperate areas without GPs
    the hierachies will be dissolved and GPs will no longer be or even want to be the ‘leaders ‘ They do after all bear the brunt of dissatisfaction and are caught in a catch 22 which only a few will resist , citizens globally are being gaslighted even if not entirely successfully as vaccines are widely mistrusted and resisted, as blanket policies heavily promoted by medics and their partners in crime..that engenders mistrust of medics already shaky in many communities.
    Nobody needs the silly rituals, the gongs ,awards, titles three year stints on a committee to help people in need , to treat them with decency as they would want for themselves. They shouldn’t be needed to ‘open doors’ to other groups in in control as HSL claims chairs of this and that do Chuck all the silly rituals, gongs awards and work truly collaboratively

  6. The New York Times calls for an aggressive campaign against anti-vaxxers.

    My comment (please comment if you can):

    My comment in the New York Times

    John Stone | London, UK
    This article is an ideological folly, and it is also deceptive – it is deceptive because vaccine critics are already and have always been completely outgunned in the mainstream media. If the NYT are paranoid enough to claim otherwise there is surely something else going on.

    Secondly, what is currently at issue is both freedom of choice and freedom of speech, and this is a dangerous combination. It is coming that we may not either criticise these liability free products or the lobby that produces them. Nor may we refuse the products. And this is entirely unreasonable – they are being placed on a pedestal, yet there are hundreds of things that can go wrong both singly and in combination (with the certainty that all or anything will be denied in advance as in this editorial). Furthermore, the industry has hundred of more products in the pipeline, which in turn can and will (be) mandated for our children. The industry needs this debate kicked into oblivion because it cannot stand scrutiny.

    There is nothing in the history of either medicine or the pharmaceutical industry which suggests that this is a safe or wise way to proceed, nor is it as if all doctors or medical scientists are in agreement about it.

    To want ward off serious disease is an honourable thing but that does not mean that everything done in its name is safe or beyond criticism, and if we get into a state where we think this we have a problem.

    John Stone, UK Editor, Age of Autism

      • Susanne

        Comments were closed at around 3pm on the day of publication – they had obviously arranged to have the comments packed (there were more than 900 in the brief time) but they obviously anticipated a big push back – also they gave privileged exposure to the comments they particularly liked. But the editorial is now reported in BMJ (only one day later)

        and I am waiting rather pessimistically to see whether they will publish my further letter there.

  7. Yes, thank you David Healy for shedding light on a very dark side of civilization.

    But also a big thank you to the commenters who shares their views, and assures me that I’m not alone to think we are going down the wrong path.

    I wish I could be a ‘Jan Palach’ for us who have suffered Seroxat/Paxil, but chances are I will be an unknown victim, like so many others.

    It is so utterly unfair that we don’t stand a chance, despite the manufacturers play such a rotten game. We do not have the benefit of doubt on our side, when all reason says it should be.


  8. I can’t read the whole article as open access to the bmj means pay for some of them. Just by the way noticed there is ref to 2 responses but only yours published John. We simply don’t know how many responses are not published in general so the bmj is not a reliable publication for judging opinion either of medics or of the public. But
    There is a huge advert on a link to ‘sense in science’ – ‘Researchers – Involve the Public’ (!) Did they pay fo it or is that another arm of thebmj….

    Fiona Godlee editor in chief of thebmj is involved in the royal society’s ‘Science in Society Programme ‘ which has published a report –

    ‘Science in the Public Interest’ communicating the results of new scientific research to the public’ as part of the Science in Society Programme.
    with the aim of conveying ‘ultimately timely and appropriate communication about research to the public (is)as key to maintaining public confidence’.

    It’s worth reading the whole publication not just the summary which will need lots of strong coffee and out of earshot of young children.

  9. re article in the bmj by the bmj’s New York reporter which was seemingly coordinated with an article in the New York Times.

    The second response to the article John flagged up (see above) is on thebmj responses column –
    re ‘ Measles Two U.S . outbreaks are Blamed on Low Vaccine Rates.’

    The article and the responses had rapidly fallen down the list by yesterday and no new responses have been put up by today so it’s no longer high profile. but surprisingly perhaps thebmj has allowed a stinging criticism to be published from a private internist in U.S. Shrewd move ?
    Maybe it is less risky to publish if practicing privately but the information she has put up should give a warning message to both prescribers and the public about who can be trusted.

    Meryl Nass , Internist in private practice Main, USA has given facts and figures- it is not just ‘a different perspective’ and has exposed that the articles in both thebmj and the N.Y Times are blatantly co-ordinated propaganda.

    With reference to the report above ‘Science in the Community’- I would not like to be a Jewish person living in New York and some other areas in USA as they are being targeted heavily as the most risky carriers of the measles virus. Hopefully some of their community will read Meryl Nass’s response in thebmj and take appropriate action (appropriate being a favourite weasel word by compilers of that report referring to the level of information they deem fit to give ‘the community’)

    • Susanne

      It also rages in the Haredi community in N. London (Hackney particularly) and in Israel. A group of Haredi rabbis in Israel (under pressure from the authorities) went so far as to announce that not vaccinating with MMR was equivalent to murder – the world has gone mad.


    Re: The hidden power of corporations
    McKee et al [1] should take note of the definition of “corporation” offered in Ambrose Bierce’s ‘Devil’s Dictionary’ (1906) [2]:

    “CORPORATION, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.”

    More than ninety years later JK Galbraith wrote [3]:

    “Money, we once agreed, gave the owner, the capitalist, the controlling power in the enterprise. So it still does in small businesses. But in all large firms the decisive power now lies with a bureaucracy that controls, but does not own, the requisite capital. This bureaucracy is what the business schools teach their students to navigate, and it is where their graduates go. But bureaucratic motivation and power are outside the central subject of economics. We have corporate management, but we do not study its internal dynamics or explain why certain behaviors are rewarded with money and power. These omissions are another manifestation of fraud.”

    But still we do not learn. Readers might like to view the list of the CDC Foundation corporate partners (motto: “Together our impact is greater”) which includes the Coca-Cola Company but also virtually every other major corporation, and every major pharmaceutical company [4]. At least Coca Cola was not supposed to improve your health.

    [1] Mckee et al, ‘The hidden power of corporations’, BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 09 January 2019)

    [2] Ambrose Bierce, ‘The Devil’s Dictionary’ 1906 ‘C’,

    [3] John Kenneth Galbraith, ‘Free Market Fraud’, 2006 (published originally 1999),



    Treating people with herd contempt

    Re: Vaccination: “fake news” on social media may be harming UK uptake, report warns Gareth Iacobucci. 364:doi 10.1136/bmj.l365

    There are a range of astonishing assumptions here, both in the report [1] and Gareth Iacobucci’s report of the report [2]:

    “A separate survey of 2000 UK adults found that a fear of side
    effects was the most common reason for choosing not to
    vaccinate, across a range of vaccines including MMR, HPV,
    and flu”

    “But it also found a fairly low understanding of the key concepts of vaccination, as over a quarter of UK adults surveyed (28%;
    560) incorrectly believed that you can have too many vaccinations.”

    It is understandable that MSD should be concerned about the less than optimal favourable coverage of its products on social media, but we might ask since when did vaccines not have side effects? (You can even read about some of them in the product inserts if you ever get to read them, and they can be both common and serious.) It may be one of the “key concepts of vaccination” that you cannot have too many vaccines (irrespective of which or how they have been tested), but where is the scientific validation? If people are not supposed to ask questions of the profession in such extraordinary circumstances, when are they?

    It is evident that retaining any critical faculties at all could be interpreted in the current atmosphere as a “thought-crime”. In my experience given the almost hysterical public health hype that surrounds vaccines that what people generally exchange on social media accounts is genuine information from public documents, package inserts, scientific studies etc.: it is generally serious, well informed and responsible – if by this stage often angry. Citizens – many highly educated, even some of them doctors – are being treated with contempt by our governments and public health systems.

    The pamphlet confuses public relations with science. Naturally it cites the Cochrane Review of HPV vaccines (p.18) but not the criticisms which have for instance appeared in both BMJ and BMJ EBM [3,4] or the furore in Cochrane [5]. In our Brave New World ordinary citizens are not to be trusted – they are not apparently even going to be permitted to publicly talk about or question product safety.

    [1] Royal Society for Public Health. ‘Moving the needle: promoting vaccination uptake across the life course’ Dec 2018,….

    [2] Gareth Iacobucci, ‘Vaccination: “fake news” on social media may be harming UK uptake, report warns’,
    BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 23 January 2019)

    [3] Jørgensen L, Gøtzsche PC, Jefferson T.’The Cochrane HPV vaccine review was incomplete and ignored important evidence of bias’, BMJ Evid Based Med. 2018 Oct;23(5):165-168. doi: 10.1136/bmjebm-2018-111012. Epub 2018 Jul 27

    [4] Lars Jørgensen, Peter Doshi, Peter Gøtzsche, Tom Jefferson, ‘Challenges of independent assessment of potential harms of HPV vaccines’, BMJ 2018; 362 doi: (Published 24 September 2018)

    [5] Nigel Hawkes, ‘Cochrane director’s expulsion results in four board members resigning’, BMJ 2018; 362 doi: (Published 17 September 2018)

    Competing interests: I have a Facebook account. I made two submissions (published) to the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee inquiry into Fake News.

  12. 88 page letter on the absence of safety testing and monitoring in paediatric vaccines, notably the complete absence of tests against placebo, from Del Bigtree as president of ICAN to the FDA (Alex M. Azar II, Secretary of Health & Human Services
    Tammy R. Beckham, Acting Director, National Vaccine Program Office)

    with earlier correspondence:

  13. A Quest for Identity …

    EU Medicines Agency

    Today, EMA staff lowered the 28 EU flags and symbolically said goodbye to their London offices. Guido Rasi expressed his thanks to the UK for its contribution to the work of the Agency and for having been a gracious host of EMA since 1995.

    GlaxoSmithKline Chairman Philip Hampton bows out as company preps for split-up

    Hampton, who had been chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, joined GSK in 2015 at a turbulent time. His appointment was announced right after China slapped the company with a $490 million fine in a high-profile bribery case. GSK operations in at least 10 countries—including Poland, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon—also faced corruption allegations.

    Besides the scandals

    Restive investors demanded change at the top, either an early exit for then-Chairman Christopher Gent or the scalp of then-CEO Andrew Witty. Some wanted both.

    CEO of MHRA set to leave agency in wake of Brexit …

    Ian Hudson’s decision means the agency faces the prospect of changing leaders while dealing with the fallout from Brexit. The CEO of the U.K. drug regulator is set to leave the agency in 10 months.

    UK news

    The riddle of the drug regulators

    Sarah Boseley, health editor
    Sat 13 Mar 2004 08.34 GMT

    “This would look like a case of the MHRA taking what the company said. It’s only when they get pushed beyond a certain point that they begin to systematically check things out.”

    Matthew Herper, formerly of Forbes, joined Stat in January, 2019, and Ed Silverman, Stat News, Charts GlaxoSmithKline …

    “That will still be a very sizable pharma and vaccines company, but it’s going to have to also reform its own new identity again,” she said.

    And that’s what Walmsley’s plan for the drug giant comes down to, when you cut through the deal-making and the management speak. (Her mantra for what she is trying to do: “IPT^C,” short for “innovation, performance, and trust to the power of culture.”)

    spent his tenure trying to undo the damage to Glaxo’s reputation. The company worked with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a vaccine against malaria and changed the way it marketed drugs so that salespeople’s compensation was less linked to product sales and Glaxo didn’t pay large sums to physicians as speaking fees. (There was still a scandal involving bribery in China.)

    “We’re a little bit like an old married couple. .. ..


    View comments …

    BBC does not want the truth out about why antidepressants are being used far too much

    ‘we heard a very confident GP referring to depression as a “chronic condition” while stating that antidepressants in many instances are “life-saving.” And we heard the President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists alluding to the ‘fact’ that antidepressants are not over- but under-prescribed. Such unsupported claims simply made my head spin, but I shall not test your patience by rehearsing the rebuttals here — I trust you have these already at hand.’

    ‘but the cracks are starting to show… what next, I wonder?

    “in advance for this question…

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