Big Pharma and the medical profession are taking a lot of ‘heat' for the opioid epidemic, and rightfully so! Opioids were unashamedly marketed to doctors who, trustingly, wrote prescription after prescription for them only to find those drugs land where they should not have: on the addiction market!
Probably nothing makes a drug ‘work' better than effective propaganda and advertising. In 2016, Big Pharma collectively spent $5.2 BILLION on advertising drugs so healthcare consumers, in many instances, could ask and/or even recommend a certain drug prescription from their doctor, i.e., “prescription du jour“!
Creative ads lead and inspire consumers to think they are being informed correctly, ethically and factually about the pharmaceuticals that often are overhyped. However, that is not the case all the time. Below are some examples of “Fraudulent Marketing” as cited in the Harvard Law & Policy Review:
D. Fraudulent Marketing
Finally, to boost profits, pharmaceutical companies have often engaged in false or misleading marketing. Over the past twenty-five years, the industry has paid $35.7 billion to settle claims of illegal marketing, including making false or misleading claims or failing to disclose known risks.150 In 2012, for example, GlaxoSmithKline paid three billion dollars to settle civil claims and criminal charges that it downplayed the risk of the antidepressant paroxetine (Paxil) in adolescents, promoted the antidepressant bupropion (Wellbutrin) for unapproved uses, and hid data showing the increased risk of heart attacks from the diabetes drug rosiglitazone (Avandia).151 Although the then-largest healthcare fraud settlement in U.S. history,152 the total penalty was “only a portion of the drug maker's profits from the drugs involved.”153 Almost every major pharmaceutical company has been caught in similar marketing scandals.154 However, the industry remains highly profitable,155 supporting criticism that monetary penalties generally represent ‘a quite small percentage of . . . global revenue and often a manageable percentage of the revenue received from the product under scrutiny.'156
How many prescription drug consumers are aware of the above?
Another aspect we need to factor into this growing problem is a listing of ten misleading drug ads in 2010:
For more detailed information regarding the above “Ten Misleading Drug Ads,” please see the Forbes article.
Why are Big Pharma companies permitted to continue in their misleading and propagandizing ways? Do the mega-fines that feds slap against pharmaceutical makers make it all profitable for some federal agencies?
Nevertheless, we have to compliment makers of drugs for male impotency when they advertise on TV that a gentleman had better get to a doctor or hospital if an erection lasts more than four hours! That's really candid stuff to put out over the airwaves, but no such candidness about the adverse effects from vaccines, especially those given to infants, toddlers and teens (especially the HPV vaccine!) ever appears on TV. WHY?
Let's take a look at an ad for flu vaccines.
Back in February of 2017, Fox News Health published “Flu vaccine is only moderately protective this year, CDC says.” Rather interestingly, the article reported,
The CDC data, drawn from five surveillance sites across the country, suggest that the H3N2 component of the 2016-17 flu vaccine offered about 43 percent protection against medically attended influenza. [….]
Last week [February 2017] Canadian researchers reported they are seeing about 42 percent protection from the H3N2 component of the vaccine north of the border. And European scientists reported vaccine effectiveness of 38 percent for H3N2 on Thursday.
The above protection or [in]effectiveness rates raise the question whether the CDC also has been misleading public health authorities, the media and the general public about flu vaccines in past years, since more and more information is surfacing how flu vaccines don't provide effective protection from influenza.
According to the CDC, “In general, the flu vaccine works best among healthy adults and children older than 2 years of age.” What?! Doesn't that sound like an oxymoron? To get best flu vaccine protection, adults should be healthy (?). Well what's the use of getting the vaccine, if it works best among healthy adults and children over 2 years of age? Isn't the flu vaccine supposed to protect everyone [according to their propaganda] from getting sick-regardless of their state of health? Don't they read their own (mis)information?
But here's the “meat and potatoes” of what I'm getting to in this article: Lacking information or providing false information that either impacts Informed Consent or deceives healthcare consumers.
The Ten Misleading Drug Ads above specifically were cited for misleading reasons, which apply to all pharmaceuticals except one specific class, i.e., vaccines!
Let's parse those misleading drug ads specific reasons as they as could-and should be-applied or juxtaposed against vaccine propaganda and ads:
- Downplayed side effects: Juxtapose the side effects as listed in vaccine package inserts which are not given nor told to intended vaccinees or their parents/guardians;
- Prominently list risk information: Juxtapose the risk information as stated in vaccine package inserts which are not given nor told to intended vaccinees or their parents/guardians;
- Failed to include side effects: Juxtapose the same as in the above two examples;
- Didn't do enough to highlight drug's risks: Juxtapose that the CDC states vaccines are safe, effective and save lives;
- Exaggerated its effectiveness: Juxtapose the classic vaccine example and “poster child” for vaccine fraud-the HPV vaccine as proven by the CDC's VAERS reporting system adverse statistics as cited on the SaneVax website;
- False information regarding positive response: Juxtapose that with what was ‘pulled off' in the first Gardasil vaccine trials, i.e., not tested against a true benign adjuvant;
- Not prominently discussing the numerous side effects: Juxtapose physicians not informing healthcare consumers of the numerous side effects on vaccine package inserts, plus MDs pontificating mandatory vaccinations as ‘safe';
- Certain claims are not supported by studies: Juxtapose classic examples (1) the MMR vaccine when the Verstraeten study (1999-2000) and (2) the DeStefano-Thompson (black boys less than 3 years of age) studies found the MMR vaccine DID cause Autism. Additionally, (3) the Mumps efficacy of the MMR was fudged for close to ten years, as two Merck employee whistleblowers claim. There is a federal lawsuit against Merck regarding those scientific vaccine shenanigans in advertising, medical ethics and FDA licensure approval applications.
Why “truth in advertising” laws don't apply to Big Pharma, and/or federal health agencies, needs to be spotlighted, not only because of the opioid debacle, but the sad state of affairs with vaccine ‘science'.
Bringing class action or RICO lawsuits against Big Pharma regarding false advertising just may be the way to go to clean up vaccines and the Big Pharma-CDC/FDA connection, in my opinion.
RICO is a United States federal law that provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization. [Wikipedia]
Don't pharmaceutical companies seemingly fit that description of “ongoing criminal organization” regarding false advertising, especially when they have to pay humongous fines time after time?
This Wikipedia entry lists the largest fines paid by pharmaceutical companies: $3 Billion; $2.3 Billion; $2.2 Billion; to a measly $345 Million paid in 2004. Don't forget, inflation affects fines too!
Public Citizen's “Twenty-Five Years of Pharmaceutical Industry Criminal and Civil Penalties: 1991 Through 2015” ought to make everyone demand Congress do something to put Big Pharma in its place, plus rescind the “get out of jail free” card it gave them with The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) of 1986 (42 U.S.C. §§ 300aa-1 to 300aa-34).