For decades, Jack Noble has been an inspiration for anyone in my and I’m sure other circles, who is concerned about the way medicine is going and the influence of pharma. He’s a straight-talking Bostonian, now living in Texas, who can’t easily be pigeon-holed – I read everything by him because it’s not going to be predictable and often creatively opens issues up.
Ghosts We Have Known and Loved
We’ve only had one misunderstanding that I remember but when Jack emailed me last week I worried we might be about to have another. He may have included me among others as last week’s Silencing Safety is about a new form of ghostwriting and Jack’s idea was to use A.I. to tackle ghostwriting.
On the surface, it’s a good idea – demonstrate patterns across articles that indicate the articles were written by someone other than the authors. While we know this is the case, demonstrating it has its own impact. It’s difficult to turn down Jack or a good idea.
I emailed Jack about an event that cut across his good idea. I was recently interviewed for a podcast by a well credentialed pharma-skeptic outfit. The invite was to talk about pharma marketing – for which ghostwriting is a central element.
But when I brought this up, the response surprised me – the interviewer was surprised I didn’t know this had been sorted out ages ago. For lots of people, including medical writers and journals, the problem had been the invisibility of the medical writers (whom I call ghosts). As a result, the ghosts were not getting the credit they deserve.
Over a decade ago, journals like NEJM began to acknowledge the writers in small print at the end of articles. So we know that Sheena Hunt wrote the Pfizer Covid and RSV Vaccine Trial articles. Problem solved – or apparently solved for lots of journals, medical writers, medics and others who take their lead from NEJM, consolidating NEJM’s position as the N Eng J of Misinformation.
Medical writers are much better writers than medics and think in more detail about the ethics of what they are doing for pharma than medics do. But they don’t get to see the study data or have any hand in the coding of adverse events. Articles are essentially written for them before they put finger to keyboard – as Study 329 makes clear.
The writers help economize on truth – the spin to overcome data as Sally Laden put it. It cannot be anything other – they are on contract to get articles done. If they don’t deliver on time and on message, they won’t get further jobs. Does their name at the end of the article alert readers to this? In the Covid vaccine trials, the lead authors Polack and Thomas never saw the data. Still Polack could almost certainly see that Sheena’s representation of what happened was not accurate – if he wanted to see.
But the problem is now solved. Using A.I. across Pfizer vaccine articles will likely show a lot of commonalities traceable to Sheena. The commonalities in pieces by BMJJ medical writers will likely conceal the identities of the true authors of BMJ articles – like Peter Selley, Leemon McHenry or Jon Jureidini for some time to come. See Not the BMJ.
Jack to his credit wasn’t too surprised to hear of the latest developments.
Any residual Sheena problem is due to be solved soon, as Albert Bourla’s Moonshot reveals. The plan is to have A.I. write the papers within hours of a study finishing. Maybe Sheena can get a job with BMJJ.
Which brings us to Albert and Ken.
Ken Paxton, the Texan Attorney General, a man with a chequered reputation, has filed a petition accusing Pfizer of Deceptive Marketing of Vaccines and Drugs. It may surprise some readers. There is scant mention of the injuries suffered by tens of thousands, no mention of the corruption reported by Brook Jackson at the Texan Ventavia site, nor of what many have viewed as FDA’s failure to protect the public health.
Albert and Pfizer are Ken’s target. He itemizes repeated 95% efficacy claims for their vaccine – claims Albert makes in person, claims the New York Times and other media repeat based on statements from Pfizer and Albert rather than by reference to scientific articles, along with efforts to intimidate former FDA senior honchos like Brent Giroir.
This petition looks like it was written by ex FDA senior honchos, who know the ropes and don’t make the mistake that most people make figuring FDA are there to protect the public health and get dismayed at what they see happening and going unchecked.
I have a recent article covering some of the illusions many good folk concerned about getting health right cannot get their heads around. The central point is Pharma run Randomized Controlled Assays, Rabbits, to get a licence to call a drug an antidepressant or a laxative. RCAs, Rabbits, can look like Randomized Controlled Trials, Ducks, which are done by clinicians to inform clinical care. Industry have a problem if a Rabbit turns out negative – so they don’t. Doctors welcome a negative Duck – they now know what not to do.
Industry submit Rabbits to FDA and EMA. The only role FDA or EMA have is to ensure companies don’t make false claims – such as saying their product is a vaccine and has been proven to save your life and get you to heaven.
Pfizer sorted the potentially illegal vaccine claim, or had it sorted for them, by changing the dictionary definition of a vaccine.
Ages ago, companies solved their problem in claiming our product can save your life and ensure you end up in heaven – by ghostwriting articles. If the data submitted for licensing does not support a claim their drug saves lives – and very few drugs do – they will be sued if their adverts claim the product saves lives. Unless – they ghostwrite an article for me which slips in a saving lives meme and alongside a Paxlovid Saves Lives claim they have a footnote to the Healy article. FDA don’t regulate medical academics.
These ghostwritten NEJM apparently scientific articles are essentially adverts – despite most doctors, like Andrew Affleck in Lonesone Heroines, thinking of them as Evidence Based Medicine. But both the Federal Trade Commission and FDA who are supposed to regulate adverts have turned a blind eye to this. They act like these are genuine scientific articles. Even when they know the articles are false – see Has HealthCare Gone Mad FDA or FTC don’t prosecute the non-author authors of these adverts.
But with the Covid Vaccine, it was Albert and other Pfizer honchos speaking in their Pfizer roles making the claims, rather than speaking through a Healy puppet, and this opens the door to Paxton’s petition. Unless they can claim they were speaking about another company’s vaccine – BioNTech’s – or their lawyers can claim they were speaking in a strictly individual capacity, they might have a problem.
Paxton repeatedly contrasts Pfizer’s 95% efficacy claim, based on a relative risk metric, and an absolute risk figure of less than 1% drawn from the same data. This and other Pfizer claims sit beside FDA statements that it is wrong to stress relative risk claims in the absence of presenting absolute risk data also and a series of other FDA statements about the vaccine that run counter to Pfizer’s claims.
Have Pfizer made a slip of Greek Tragedy proportions? A simple twist of fate?
The petition is an easy read once you orient yourself to what is going on. And it has cartoons like this one, which leads to Klein versus Wolf.
Naomi vs Naomi
Probably to my shame, I have read nothing by Naomi Klein or Wolf. But for over a year, every time I access the Guardian, NK tops the list of 100 books you have to read and lately her Doppelganger book and critique of the Wellness industry seem permanent fixtures in the G online. I haven’t read any of these articles.
A long time ago I stopped reading the G. I skim its headlines instead because like the NYT and BBC, for over a decade it has stopped reporting on or going near the harms of treatment – drugs or vaccines. When it comes to medicines, the formerly ‘liberal’ media fit into a now dominant ethos of rolling back informed consent – see Lonesome Heroines. Right wing media, like The Daily Mail, are now more interesting.
I was vaguely aware NW was linked to The Daily Clout that at least in producing a tool called Abstractor has been invaluable for anyone trying to scour the court mandated release of Pfizer vaccine documents. A vague sense that she had messed somethings up left me surprised at her linkage to something solidly scientific like Abstractor. The Daily Clout is not perfect – there are defaults into sensationalism a la Steve Kirsch – and conspiracies.
A few days ago, I became aware that NK’s Doppelganger is all about NW – at least this is my take from reading NK’s Journey into the Unnerving World of NW.
It looks like total war between Naomis with no sign of a middle ground. Both were once viewed as Liberals, which means socialists in the US. Both have transitioned and it is their transition as much as their war that is a symbol of our times.
There is a real sense in which progressives who seemed to be on what was once the Left, a bunch of people concerned about freedom of expression, and bodily autonomy, have switched to the Right when it comes to vaccines at least. This is not a total surprise in that for most of the 19th century the Liberals and free marketeers were the progressive party. It is only since the Great War that the Left grabbed this mantle’ leaving Max Weber saying this can only end badly.
NW’s transition to finding expression freer on the Right than on the Left is a marker for this switch.
Where Free Markets and Technological Innovation were the hallmark of Liberal parties (the later Right Wing) for two centuries, Health filled this role for the Left. It was great to have technologies but these polluted and the impact of this on Health was something ordinary people could be mobilized around. The pharmaceutical industry love Governments, especially on the Left, for this reason and have excelled at getting government bureaucracies – see The Deep Neoliberal State or The Politics of Care posts – to sell their products for them. They have succeeded in spectacular fashion with the Covid and now RSV vaccines.
The old Left have lost the plot. Bernie Sanders appears to criticize the pharmaceutical industry, but its only about drug prices. Nothing more. This is a win-win for industry – it can only result in all of us consuming more drugs.
NK’s transition symbolizes this – I may be wrong but she doesn’t seem to see the Disaster Capitalism in action. I know too little about NK to say for sure, but many in this camp fail to see what Yanis Varoufakis has taken to calling Technofeudalism – something that applies to both health and non-health enterprises.
In less than a decade, the divide between the new Right and New Left has become as deep as the one that once existed between Catholics and Protestants, perhaps still exists between Sunni and Shia, or the ones all too obvious in several current war-zones.
One surprising feature is both sides inability to see their numerous commonalities – See MedicoChemical and PetroChemical Twins.
The place where the overlap is most apparent is with pesticides where companies engage in exactly the same ghostwriting and sequestration of study data as happens in health.
But given that this difficulty extends to Greta Thunberg and her entire generation, who are consuming more of these drugs than any comparable generation in human history, as well as to the Pope (more about the Pope for Xmas), who appears to endorse their environmental appeals and medicine intake, it’s no surprise the Naomis aren’t looking for a middle ground.
Implying some constancy on a middle ground watching people transition in front me sounds arrogant. My credentials for vaguely thinking this might be the case lie in three decades of books, starting with The Antidepressant Era which have argued that acting with the best of intentions we have made things worse. We have cocked-up rather than conspired.
Science is about making judgement calls and achieving a consensus between people. The relationship we have with a doctor should be an archetype of this. The conspiracies on either side have a great problem in leaving us free to make our own judgement calls in intimate matters of the greatest importance to us.
The net result is that medicines are now the leading cause of disability in the Western world, and likely the leading cause of death. Life expectancies are falling. Fertility rates are falling.
My focus is on the people behind these figures. The Forgotten Woman, or her children, who have been injured by treatment. She parallels The Forgotten Working Man. The system denies her injuries could be happening. Faced with obvious injuries, I have a problem when told these aren’t happening or are a figment of the person’s or my imagination.
Science can only win when questions like those the injuries of Forgotten Women pose are addressed. They aren’t being addressed. If not addressed, they at least need to be asked. They can’t be asked. When even questioning why we can’t question is branded conspiratorial, health falls silent.
A silent healthcare seems to be what Pfizer would brand as Science Has Won.
Real science lies in engaging with injured people – see Cause and Effect. Those we injure are the stones the builders of our New World Order reject. If we want a world we can live in, they need instead to become the cornerstone.