In 2022, we learned that Dr. Anthony Fauci would be stepping down from his positions as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Chief of the NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation, and Chief Medical Advisor to President Joe Biden. A collective five decades (nearly six) of civil service to the U.S. government culminated in his time guiding the public through the Covid-19 pandemic. He graced the cover of InStyle, he threw a truly unprecedented ceremonial first pitch on opening day of the 2020 MLB season, and he inspired all Americans to “trust the science” with his headline-making rhetoric.
“Stick with the science, stick with the evidence, stick with the public health issues and stay out of politics,” Fauci advised young scientists in an interview with Government Executive.
Alas, instead of being held accountable for lies that did (and continue to do) irreversible harm to American citizens and the nation as a whole, Dr. Fauci is quietly exiting stage left while all of us in the audience wonder why American freedoms were traded away for botched medical advice. That wishy-washy advice granted him history’s highest recorded government pension (over $350,000 per year, a number that even presidents don’t make) upon his retirement…and that’s on top of the $12.6 million net worth he accumulated during the pandemic.
No matter how many times people parroted the phrase “trust the science” while perhaps calling you a science-denier or conspiracy theorist, the supposedly science-backed healthcare industry isn’t incorruptible. In fact, it’s easily contaminated by the wills and whims of industry leaders who continue to turn a profit on your problems.
Big Pharma Will Do What It Takes To Find Their Optimal Results
Here’s how I imagine the pharmaceutical company’s thought process to go: I want to create a product. I have the money to make it happen. I want the public to trust the product. The public trusts research. I’ll lean on an appeal to credibility by putting my money into research that would favor the production of my product.
But have you ever taken a peek into some of the healthcare industry’s major landmark studies? These studies signaled enough integrity to the FDA for widespread authorization, but things get a bit fishy when you take a look at who actually funded them.
The UK Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) fundamentally changed how type 2 diabetes was treated. After 20 years of trials, researchers concluded that therapies like insulin, sulfonylurea, or metformin improved blood glucose levels and controlled blood pressure. But wait! Why is it then that Novo-Nordisk (who makes insulin), Pfizer (who makes sulfonylurea under the name glipizide), and Bristol-Myers Squibb (who makes metformin) were the primary sources of funding for the UKPDS?
Newer research – which, coincidentally, has no external funding from Big Pharma – has revealed that personalized lifestyle changes can reverse the effects of type 2 diabetes. Getting more physical activity, eating a higher-quality, more nutritious diet, drinking less alcohol, sleeping better, and smoking less are all known to curb type 2 diabetes. But Big Pharma can’t package up lifestyle changes and sell them.
Personalized lifestyle changes can reverse the effects of type 2 diabetes, but Big Pharma can’t package and sell that.
Ah, and then there’s the beloved food pyramid. We all learned it in school and felt fully vindicated seeing that big bunch of starchy carbs filling up the bottom portion of the pyramid, knowing it was all well and good to double up on servings of our favorite cereals or carb-heavy processed after-school snacks.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services touted their food pyramid as the standard for Americans to know what to eat. Hence why we ended up learning it in school alongside other key tenets of our education curricula like math, reading, or writing. Though some of the information changed over the years, every food pyramid has taught us that we should get most of our calories from carbs (starchy grains, then vegetables and fruits) before we load up on protein and fats from dairy and meat products, nuts, and legumes.
But wait, who did you say created that food pyramid? Right, the USDA, who was looking out for the farmers who understandably wanted to boost sales and production of their carb products. The USDA actually withdrew their food pyramid in 1991 after they were accused of letting food lobbyists act out of self-interest instead of in the best interest of the general public’s health, since diet-related health complications started popping up right around the same time ultra-processed high-carb diets were made mainstream. So while the meat and dairy industries were shunned, Americans ate their way toward nutritional deficiencies and chronic diseases.
But Wait…There’s Always More!
Medical malpractice isn’t uncommon, especially when Big Pharma has their hands in clinical trial results. Data can be manipulated to mask adverse reactions or oversell on benefits, and certain clinical trials have been so poorly designed that people end up hurt later on. Some examples are more shocking than others.
AstraZeneca wanted to prove that their antipsychotic medicine Seroquel would properly treat schizophrenia. Problem is, it appeared that the data was manipulated to make that medication seem superior to others on the market. In reality, it was falsely marketed as a treatment for a variety of illnesses which led to the death of one 26-year-old man who committed suicide by using a box cutter to attempt decapitation. Surprise, surprise, the doctors involved in the trials were found to have received hundreds of thousands of dollars from AstraZeneca, and the pharmaceutical giant itself had to pay $520 million in fines for illegal marketing.
GlaxoSmithKline was bringing its type 2 diabetes medication, Avandia, to market and chose to publicize positive clinical trial results about just how effective it was. Only problem was, there was hidden data that the public didn’t have access to, which warned against Avandia, citing heart attack risks. Eventually, GlaxoSmithKline agreed to plead guilty and pony up $3 billion after they were caught in criminal and civil suits for fraudulent allegations and a failure to report critical safety data!
Merck sought to compete with painkillers that caused stomach disturbances, so it began its own study on its drug Vioxx to show its effectiveness and boost sales. The pharmaceutical company raked in billions of dollars before Vioxx was withdrawn from the market because it actually causes stroke and heart attacks.
Let’s not forget how the FDA plays a big role in these scandals either. They allowed silicone breast implants in the early 2000s after leading the clinical trials for Allergan’s textured silicone implants, which would later be recalled for cancer risk and breast implant illness. They also approved Essure permanent birth control (yes, sterilization), and then clinical trial participants blew the whistle on manufacturers Conceptus (later bought by Bayer) for falsifying data and blatantly omitting certain side effects. After 1 million Essure devices were implanted, women began sharing their terrifying accounts of extreme adverse effects from chronic pelvic pain, heavy bleeding, fatigue, fevers, and more. Well, at least the Essure device was discontinued, right? Total shame that Bayer’s $2.5 million marketing campaign had to go to waste, huh.
Big Pharma-Backed Studies Get Favorable Outcomes
A systematic review of 30 studies was done in the early 2000s to see if drug research funded by the pharmaceutical industry was given more favorable outcomes than those which had other means of funding. What do you know, they concluded: “systematic bias favours products which are made by the company funding the research.”
Let me make one thing abundantly clear: Just because a group, organization, or corporation funds a particular study, it doesn’t mean that the data should be dismissed as purposeful propaganda. That said, calling out a study because of its funding is valid. People always joke about how easy it is to buy a politician, but they don’t want to admit just how easy it could be to buy the scientists.
People always joke about how easy it is to buy a politician, but they don’t want to admit just how easy it could be to buy the scientists.
Yes, some major studies have biases, but that doesn’t mean that the conclusions they’ve come to should be outright dismissed. Instead, you should remain skeptical of their results and seek out more evidence. Pharmaceutical companies understandably have an incentive to produce positive research results that enable their products to be made, but then those same products still have to make it over a bunch of regulatory hurdles.
Be Your Own Best Patient Advocate and Don’t Blindly Trust the Science
There’s only so much that you can personally do to tame the beast, but there are certainly ways you can protect yourself from medical malpractice at the hands of Big Pharma. Firstly, you need to research any drug or device before it goes into your body. Staying properly informed through your own personal research and through multiple opinions from medical professionals can help you piece together the full story about a particular treatment.
Lucky for you, you’ve got the entire internet at your fingertips! Type into your search engine any drug or device with keywords like “research,” “clinical trials,” or “funding,” and you can read up on any risks or sketchy-looking sponsorships. Don’t forget to look up the drug or device followed by the keyword “lawsuits,” because if enough people have already sought legal action against a pharmaceutical company over dangerous practices or misleading information, you might want to consider steering clear of that “cure.”
Patient advocates might catch flack for this one (post-Covid), but you should genuinely consider just how long a drug, device, or treatment has been on the market before you use it. Public Citizen’s Health Research Group has a 7-year rule that suggests that you should avoid using a new drug for at least seven years after it’s initially approved unless it represents a true, firm breakthrough in science. They recommend this because that 7-year period is typically a sufficient amount of time for researchers to gather new data about how safe or effective the drug or device is and ultimately decide if its benefits outweigh its risks.
So why am I calling out Dr. Fauci after airing a bunch of grievances over medical devices, pills, and potions he hasn’t had anything to do with? Well, I’m urging you to be skeptical about what “science” is reported to you as 100% certifiable facts. Sure, there might be a lot of evidence suggesting one perspective, but in science, proof doesn’t exist, nothing is certain, and everything is a theory.
These are basic tenets of the scientific method which have been thrown out with the bathwater after the healthcare industry watched as the world descended into hysterics during lockdowns. Over 12.7 billion shots later, many billions of dollars in profits later, and while most Americans are concerned over a potential recession, Pfizer stockholders are likely happy with their long-term investments, and Dr. Fauci is sitting pretty on his piles of riches built up from a global scam.
After all this time, though, people are still begging the question: When will things ever return back to normal? All we’re told is to keep getting boosted, keep quiet about any adverse reactions, and keep trusting the science.
Readers make our world go round. Make your voice heard in the official Evie reader survey.