Update: Hydroxychloroquine and the Israeli Connection
Readers Note: I acknowledge that the following post is EXTREMELY long, even by my standards. You probably will want to read it in installments, and I recommend a laptop or tablet versus a phone to read. Many readers may decide it is TOO long for their interests and attention span, and each reader might suggest their own unique priority material within it, and suggestions for editing, as I often hear from my last book. However, it IS a very important topic that has been impacting our world, and an archetype of the similar issues we encounter in our complex world, and the nature of the players and strategies used by figures in society to inform our opinions, in (sometimes) issues of life or death. I would challenge the reader of such limited attention span and devotion to society’s issues and “being their brother’s keeper” (both attributes I recommend for all my fellow Christians) and ask them why such issues cause them to take such strong and passionate views on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere and in their interpersonal debates, and so forcefully express their views with such confidence, if they are not willing to devote a little bit of time to study and consider the data compiled at great expense of time by their brethren, in books, legitimate investigative journalism and serious fact-finding blogs like this one, to best round out their being fully informed and to ponder the implications, thus to justify their passionate engagement in the issues of the day.
What would you think if it was discovered that a rogue foreign nation, considered a pariah globally and wanted for decades of human rights violations and aggression against their neighbors in the UN, responsible for assassinations of world figures, false flag operations (including attacking U.S. troops) that risked world wars, colluding with other despotic regimes that threatened the world, having built a covert nuclear weapons program and stockpile with European secret assistance (while denying its existence to U.S. administrations), known to be the biggest spy on the U.S. (including within the Oval Office) and for selling our most valuable weapons system designs to the Chinese, and an overwhelmingly atheistic society with a long-time leader indicted in national courts of crimes, was actually involved behind the scenes in the curious sudden promotion of hydroxychloroquine since March, as possibly part of a means to achieve economic “warfare” to seduce U.S. top officials with secret dual-agenda purposes, including their avoidance of U.S. sanctions against the corrupt and dangerous practices of their top corporate source of operating capital within the global and American marketplace?
So – is it another intrigue by our enemy Cuba? North Korea?
Of course, it is the nation that best fits the description – Israel.
Before I proceed with this discussion, I should get out of the way, which becomes a requirement these days, that I am truly not anti-Semitic in any way. In my many years of writing, touching on the greatest of forbidden topics of critique among the Religious Right, the subject of Israel and Zionism ranks right up there with abortion, and even being above critiques of American divine destiny, its military-centric focus or the divine attributes of capitalism and unbridled free enterprise (I sometimes think that I should have labelled this masochistic exercise of blogging “The Third Rail,” instead of “The Two Spies Report”), even though we’re talking about a foreign, overly atheistic nation who is often caught acting secretly against our own nation, and risking our own troops and their well-being.
In fact, for the time being I still cling to the debatable doctrinal premise of premillennial dispensationalism, which concedes that God may still have a Last Days agenda in preserving a small remnant of those from the original Twelve Tribes of Israel, not of their inherent value (for even John the Baptist said God could raise up stones to be “sons of Abraham”), but merely to honor a promise He gave to a couple of His friends (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) to preserve their lineage and inheritance, even though any premillennial dispensationalist would have to admit that a literal reading of biblical apocalyptic literature would concede that an overwhelming proportion of those in Israel will die in the Last Days in unbelief, and possibly after coronating the Anti-Christ as Messiah in the new Temple they are trying to build today – a Temple many of my fellow evangelicals are excited to see built, and often helping financially where they can, to help get the Anti-Christ’s home of the “Abomination of Desolation” ready to go.
Although my Southern Baptist upbringing believed in the Second Return of Christ, it did not emphasize the detailed, church stage-length “prophecy charts” and obsessions of “pinning the tail on the Anti-Christ” until The Late Great Planet Earth book came out – the biggest selling non-fiction book of the 1970s, I am told – which my older brother picked up from a K-Mart in 1976, and which he and I read overnight in successive nights. Soon thereafter came cable TV and specialty prophecy shows on the Christian networks, like “The King is Coming” and Jack Van Impe, feeding the frenzy and obsession, and the Internet has only put it on steroids, with “prophecy boards” lighting up when Israel begins dropping bombs on neighboring villagers – often using “popcorn emojis” revealing their entertainment at the prospect of limbs of women and children flying around of the heathen “Amalekites” (using the term the Puritans used to describe the Indians they exterminated).
With the indoctrination of one into the “prophecy cult” (pertaining to a major part of the biblical record that I still regard as valid, important and part of the “blessed hope” of my Lord’s reign and our glorification and habitation with Him at the end of the age) comes an automatic, un-debated and critique-free adoption of the agenda of the secular, atheistic state of modern Israel, and its agenda and interests without question, including adopting its hatreds of its enemies, who often do not have to be enemies of ours, as Americans nor as Christians.
Just like the debasement of Religious Right Christians in their automatic, “no questions asked” undying and unflinching devotion to the Big Business, anti-poor and anti-immigrant stance of the Republican Party, their public unwavering support of secular Israel, in the face of atrocities and secret agendas exposed, similarly devastates the testimony of Christians to the overwhelming world populace that wants evil deeds by all parties to be held to account, and the world’s seeking of a Church that wants to preach the Gospel to people of all types (including the “Ninevites” that the Jew Jonah pre-despised), and that has the integrity to be loyal ultimately to the higher Kingdom of Heaven, and not some secular, foreign authority.
Not only do I not have any animosity to the Jewish community both globally and in the U.S. at large, readily acknowledging millennia of their persecution, pograms and discrimination, often by professing “Christians,” culminating in the ultimate evil of the “Holocaust,” a real event that killed real millions, but also the duty of Christians not only to acknowledge these things, but also to take real steps, both societally and in our own circles, to make sure they never happen again. Because of the propensity of the concept of the “wandering Jew” without a state during the age of the Diaspora to be consistently persecuted while residing as a minority wherever they exist, which appeared to be worsening with the “advanced” thinking of the Twentieth Century, I can sympathize with their goal of having a homeland where they will not be a minority and to preserve their human rights and prosperity – although, ironically, they have now built a land where they possess no State-acknowledged “Bill of Rights,” or even a written Constitution, as I understand it. Therefore, having conceded to them their desire to have a secure home that can provide for their protection (a right of security I think is due to Kurds, minority Iraqi Sunnis, and many other groups globally), as a Christian I still see no guidance at all by Christ, the Apostles or anywhere in the New Testament on how (or if) we are to “stand with Israel,” i.e. providing cover for their alleged human rights abuses and other misdeeds in the UN or elsewhere, providing them massive weapons systems of mass destruction (or just cash and business incentives), or using our governments God established for our own protection to serve the interests of foreign nation at a higher level than our own, or for Christians to cater to them even when they forbid our major Christian organizations that feed untold wealth into their coffers (as well as a cut for the ministries themselves) in the constant stream of “Holy Land Tours,” which are often conducted by Israel as veritable catered “Potemkin Villages” for political purposes of hasbara, I might add. As I document elsewhere in my writing, one thing these U.S. Christian ministries agree to do for the Israeli government in exchange for these lucrative tour approvals is to not “proselytize” Jewish residents – which is what I thought we “evangelicals” were supposed to be all about anyway. That is why you don’t see these Christian “leaders” preaching the Gospel at Western Wall – at least their Apostle predecessors were willing to be bold enough and devoted to Christ to do such previously, and take their beatings from the Jewish officials, as would happen today.
To be more precise, I do not have problems with the ideal of a kind, independent Israel that still obeys the “Golden Rule” with its neighbors and looks out for them as well, and really a major portion of Israelis agree with me – unfortunately, they comprise just under a majority of the Israeli public, which permits self-serving, corrupt men of minority support like Benjamin Netanyahu to worm his way into the Prime Minister slot in the multi-party, parliamentary workings behind closed doors; therefore, I am much more of an “anti-Likudist” than I am anti-Israeli, anti-Zionist or anti-Jewish by any measure, and I think the majority of Jews worldwide would agree with me in that position. Speaking of Jews who would agree with me in this humanitarian mindset – my fellow American evangelical Zionists, Hebraic Roots crowd and many ultra-Orthodox Jews here in the U.S. and in Israel would refer to such fellow Jews as “self-loathing Jews”; that image might be appropriate, which conjures up the publican in the Temple who smote his own chest and said, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner,” and was said by our Lord to “go home justified,” while the other crowd I have referred to comports with the Pharisee in the Temple, who prays that he is “glad he’s not like that sinner;” I just pragmatically say that those “self-loathing Jews” are “Jews with a conscience,” and God love’em. Furthermore, I could argue here how the story of Jonah shows what happens to Gentiles when they harbor Jews away from the trials their God sends their way to put them back on the right path to being a “light to the Gentiles,” the lesson God taught King Jehoshaphat of the perils of an overly-simplistic interpretation of how to “bless Israel” by means of military or economic assistance, or how Acts 3:26 gives the one biblical instruction on how to “bless Israel” that our Religious Right leaders largely reject, but I will save that for another day, but suffice it to say I love the Jewish people, the people of Israel and their right to peace and safety when they abide by the Golden Rule with their neighbors, and seek for them the greatest and only real blessing of all – their recognition of their “hour of visitation” and the acknowledgement of their Messiah, and deliverance from sin and to eternal life, even if most them of them do not believe in God or the afterlife.
Having gotten that out of the way, I want to say a few more things about some of the roots of the sudden and mysterious public relations push of the drug hydroxychloroquine, beyond that cited in my lengthy last post – its sudden and hard, elaborate promotion by figures not among the national or global leadership of experts on immunology, epidemiology or public health, but individuals of little national background, and relatively unknown underwriting (although their promotion and handling by a pro-Big Business national network of “astroturf” faux-grass roots organizations, including the Religious Right-affiliated Council on National Policy, was documented in the post), who gained sudden traction in the murky waters of Facebook and Youtube, and of course embraced without reservation by the conspiracy-obsessed Religious Right online community, leading to their promotion by alt-Right stalwart Breitbart. In my post and subsequent comments about Dr. Simone Gold, shown to be the ring leader and “headliner” of the movement (although her “Front Line Doctors” colleague and video co-star Dr. Stella Immanuel, and her widely publicized claims of women’s gynecological problems being due to “sleep sex” with demons, and the mind control terrors of the “Magic Eight Ball,” certainly garnered possibly most of the attention), I confess I had a good degree of reticence at the time about admitting her curious vocational biography of being a writer and researcher for Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, and her frequent obsession in her limited Facebook postings with the geopolitical interests of the State of Israel (even claiming in writing online that “Israel is the solution to the problems of the Middle East”), both being concerned that I would be black-listed as an anti-Semite for even observing and acknowledging it, and also conceding that it might only be an irrelevant “red herring.”
One thing I can say, commensurate in my decades of experience in investigating and writing about global and national issues that have some degree of relevance to the matter of Zionism and the interests of secular Israel, including my drafting of a lengthy volume (now planned to be two) in my Holy War Chronicles book series on the history of Judaism and its modern variants (including Israel and Zionism-based religion) and other manuscripts, is that hasbara (the rabbinic Judaism belief in the duty of Jews (including atheistic ones) to actively and aggressively promote the interests of secular Israel in whatever nations and spheres in which they reside, which has been adopted by Gentile Christian Zionists and Hebraic Roots and Messianic fringe movements) tends to produce supporters who are never “mild” Israel-defenders, rather embracing non-stop information warfare in bare-knuckles open combat in every forum of the public sphere (even in today’s “Wild West” propaganda wasteland of Palestinian/Arab/Islamic interests, white Christian European interests, etc.), who seem to “never sleep” and be driven by endless energy, that an aging “lone gun” researcher like myself cannot keep up with their output of their key figures in my own studies. Anyone who critiques their message, even if from one sympathetic to the plight of Jewry historically and worldwide like myself, will earn not a balanced, but rather a stern and threatening rebuke, which is notable if even driven by fears of rising anti-Semitism. Therefore, I have come to expect that those who show such devotion to their Zionism cause (not just Jewish human rights, but modern Israeli policy interests specifically) typically (but not always) usually are “all in” as it becomes the primary force behind their devotion and agendas, no matter how superficially marginal to the cause, and that effective voices on their behalf in some sphere of conflict will often find ample support from Tel Aviv or sympathetic underwriters from Wall Street, or similar communities of power. This activity may be legal, and an exercise of free speech and representing the interests of a legitimate community in the public debate, and I certainly defend their right to do so, but I wish they (and others) would at least be transparent and up front in the real core interest, agenda and underwriting they represent, which they should do willingly if their agenda is legitimate, honorable and just (and befitting the Golden Rule).
I would normally have left the material on hydroxychloroquine, a marginal issue to me and not one I feel called to pursue fanatically, and one I felt accidentally “drug in to” (excuse the pun) although it certainly has had its “moment in the sun” in stirring the public (and may not be done yet), and any debatable secondary agenda of Dr. Gold or a remote Israeli connection to the drug, alone and let it possibly fade into obscurity. However, recent data has come to light with some curious digging on my behalf, that suggests that there may be more that meets the eye (or the Hamza “eye,” in this case) in the association of at least some tangential nature of Israel or its key players and this hydroxychloroquine cultural phenomenon, which may be largely explained by some pragmatic, “Great City Babylon” economic manipulation, always anchored by a public relations “sorcery” core to serve a Mammon-focused agenda, as samples of such data I submit in the following for your consideration.
I should note that “doctor’s groups,” even those far bigger than the hundreds of physician signatories to the recent document insisting on the widespread implementation of hydroxychloroquine that was associated with “America’s Frontline Doctors,” have been used for a long time in swaying the public into adopting health and consumer choices with ludicrous health “enhancements” – of course, usually at the behest and generous financial renumeration of Wall Street big businesses, usually brokered by Madison Avenue. Probably the master of such use of ad hoc, recently-organized medical “authority councils” is the man commonly referred to as the “father of public relations,” Edward Bernays. In the 1920s he was asked by the Beech-Nut bacon and processed meat producer to increase public consumption of pork. Bernays found out that the public normally ate light breakfasts of coffee, orange juice and a roll. He was able to get his PR firm physician to write 5,000 fellow physicians to ask them if a “heavier” breakfast would be more healthy; in response, 4,500 physicians wrote back and agreed. Bernays was able to take those responses and massage them into a public “endorsement” of what he called the healthy “bacon and eggs breakfast” throughout the press, suddenly creating what became an American institution that many of us would have guessed went back naturally to far earlier days.
Of course, Bernays waded right into the Big Tobacco advertising mother lode in the late 1920s and 1930s, getting physicians to admit that cartons of a certain brand of cigarette he sent free to them (most of them were smokers) were easier on the throat, then to subsequently advertise them as physician endorsements of smoking and that brand in general. He was able to get women to begin smoking – at the request of a well-paying cigarette client, of course – even though they saw such as “unladylike” at the time, by making female smoking a political and cultural issue of “women’s liberation,” christening them “liberty torches” and organizing feminist parades in New York, and dispensing articles and “news” stories and press releases on the news wires using new public interest groups he set up. Thus, he made the smoking of a cigarette by a woman a political statement (actually to fill the coffers of a Big Business client), just as similarly others have sold the “political statement” of not wearing masks to protect their fellow citizens during a deadly epidemic, by redefining its meaning beyond the simple, common-sense life-preserving principles it entails. By the 1930s, 1940s and early 1950s, the heyday of American public smoking and high-dollar advertising on TV and print (which would continue until around 1970 when it was banned, and a time I remember well, as they transitioned to NASCAR and other sports advertising), medical research and physician opinions began to get wise to the dangers of smoking, but ad hoc Big Tobacco-sponsored “research groups” continued to produce “medical research” from “doctors” that clouded the association of smoking with cancer, or outright disputed it, even after the seminal 1964 study providing widespread, confirming proof by the esteemed medical establishment, in international peer-reviewed repeated trials – the same establishment that smokers ignored or distrusted for decades, just as they have over the hydroxychloroquine issue today. It’s no wonder that Bernays wrote, in the beginning of his definitive 1928 book Propaganda about what he learned from his days doing wartime black propaganda and its peacetime applications on Madison Avenue, and the psychoanalysis discoveries from his cousin Sigmund Freud, that
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country….We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of…In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”
I should first begin by saying that I don’t know if Dr. Gold has any direct connection to the working of the Israeli players I will now recount in this narrative, and it may be a mere coincidence that she is vehemently strong in her promotion of the State of Israel as well as being the central figure in the hydroxychloroquine soap opera, although her connections did spur my pursuit of seeking deeper connections between Israel and these mysterious public relations operations (although I documented previously that Republican forces in America saw the chemical as a means (whether it worked or not) to justify the reckless re-opening of the economy, without restrictions or precautions, in time for the 2020 election to temporarily raise economic conditions before the ravages of the inevitable COVID flash back could raise its head). However, Dr. Gold may have already paid a price herself for the aggressive and “in your face” public relations “Doolittle Raid” represented by the embarrassingly little-thought-out video promoted nationally by the cobbled together “America’s Front Line Doctors,” and its anticipated fallout. On July 31, Real Clear Politics and others reported that “She told FNC‘s [Fox News Channel] Tucker Carlson on Thursday that since appearing in the photo op, she has been fired from her job. ‘It seems like five minutes ago I was considered a hero,’ she said. ‘My own website was taken down and it has been interesting since.’ ‘A lot of people are saying negative things about me,’ she said.”
There is a group who came to the defense (sort of) of Dr. Gold and her “persecution” – the prestigious-sounding Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which was founded in 1944, but whose nature requires some explanation, because it shows the roots, generations ago, of an exploitation of an institution we have have often held in esteem and trust even above our clergy – the medical community – and its co-opting for Great City Babylon Big Business financial causes that history shows would have set back the public health – a threat that COVID and hydroxychloroquine has provided ample modern opportunity to demonstrate and perpetuate.
A 1944 article in Time Magazine announced that “Last week saw a portent in U.S. medicine — a new medical organization which claimed members in 48 states. Its name: the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Its aim: defeat of any Government group medicine,” getting its start when it “decided to combat the Wagner-Murray-Dingell bill (now in Congressional committees), which proposes Government medical insurance for most U.S. citizens.” Imagine the horror – all Americans having access to health care, to prevent expensive diseases and emergency room visits, and not be wiped out permanently by the expense of catastrophic, life threatening illnesses (even for those burdensome poor and elderly people!) – and the impact of providing such mercy and basic dignity to not ruin a common person due to unavoidable health misfortune, would have on the excess profits of the financial wealth class. Someone must put a stop to this travesty!
Twenty-one years later, The New York Times was reporting that “The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons urged its 16,500 members today not to cooperate in the Federal Government’s Medicare program,” which was being established that year by the Johnson administration. How many of our Christian seniors these days, particularly since many of them are of a low and/or fixed income variety, would like to take this benefit away, in accordance with the agenda of the Wall Street/Big Business’wealth class political power brokers that lead their conservative political movement, to be consistent with their anti-government, anti-socialism “principles”?
In 1966 The New York Times reportedly stated that some of the leaders of the Association were members of the ultra-right conspiratorialist John Birch Society, which itself was early in its 1960s “golden age” at the time; in fact, the web page for Paul W. Leithart, M.D., on the John Birch website that is dedicated to him, notes his membership in the John Birch group by 1960 (two years after its founding) as a “chapter leader,” and adds that Dr. Leithart has been a “past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.”
The John Birch Society themselves have had a long legacy, in addition to asserting the real hidden Communist affiliations of Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren, Martin Luther King, Jr. and (World War II and Cold War hero) Supreme Commander General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower, of making similar allegations of a vast medical establishment community conspiracy globally on their own, such as concerning water fluoridation, the promotion of of laetrile (of what John Birch spokesman G. Edward Griffin labeled “Vitamin B17”) as the real universal cure of cancer that our doctors did not want you to have to get well. Of course, now they champion the position of a new conspiracy of vaccinations in the era of COVID-19, with collusion of diabolical henchmen like (universally well-respected in the global immunology community) Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Bill Gates (who’s spent his fortune trying to eradicate preventable diseases in Africa), with allegations of the proposed use of cellphone trackers of contacts by virus carriers, so people can find out if they’ve been exposed to someone later found out to be COVID positive. Former Congressman Ron Paul (a man I used to deeply respect, and in some ways still do) explained that the government should not have any say in how you conduct your business, including exposing unwitting others to your virus without their knowledge. He states, “It really boils down to this whole concept of who’s responsible for protecting against risk and obviously in a free society the individual is,” to which the Birch article adds, “Dr. Paul is exactly correct. In a free society, it’s up to individuals – not the government – to protect against risk. This is exactly why we shouldn’t wait for Fauci, Gates, Big Tech, large tax-exempt foundations, or the government to co-opt the narrative of the purported benefits of Americans giving of up our rights by submitting to a national health ID or coronavirus tracking through their cellular devices…Should these proposals be implemented, they also may give rise to mass forced vaccinations.”
Of course, even a small child could understand that your rights to do as you please makes sense, as long as it impacts only you, but not when your recklessness and disregard for others endangers other people you encounter without their knowledge of such risk, just like the use of masks in public is to acknowledge the rights of others not to be infected by you, no matter how macho, reckless and empty-headed you are, which sadly Religious Right Christians appear to be a majority of those of such selfish and uncaring attitudes focused their own rights, while being a dangerous bully towards others. Furthermore, cellphone tracking of COVID spreaders and contact tracing has quickly stopped an otherwise unrelenting spread of the disease in several advanced Asian countries like South Korea, saving countless lives and suffering by quickly quarantining outbreaks and even permitting a swift reopening of the economy, unlike the shameful and incompetent leadership in America that was warned, yet ignored the threat, resisting the acquisition of masks, test kits and shut downs until a nation with 4.5 percent of the world population had almost 25 percent of its COVID cases and deaths, even after watching the spread in China and Europe.
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) originally established their pedigree with their own in-house medical journal, originally known as the Medical Sentinel, and in 2003 changed in name to the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. While all other medical journals tend to be boring affairs for the general public, focusing on data and concepts only conversant among medical experts, focusing on peer-reviewed sets of double-blind data trials held by numerous institutes, and on isolating true causation versus spurious noise or mere correlation, the journal of the AAPS can be viewed as focusing more on the promotion of a conservative-libertarian political agenda, back-filled with general medical discussions to give it a vague medical community sanction, and using an apparently ever-present minority community of estranged, rogue medical officials to give respectability to the most ludicrous positions and using language and rhetorical techniques that most learned individuals would find disturbingly out of place in a science-based academic journal.
To give a few examples, in one instance a 1999 paper in the Medical Sentinel “journal” by “Curtis W. Caine, MD” (and member of the Editorial Board) entitled, “Conspiracy – Part III,” warned of “unConstitutional (and thus illegal) activities in medicine and all other facets of our lives that have trampled on and outlawed our God-endowed freedom and liberty,” and that “Much of the absurd nonsense passed as liberal arts curriculum in institutions of both lower education and higher learning, blindly accepted as enlightened intellectualism (in apposition to old fogey, common, everyday horse sense) by a populace that has been deceived and brainwashed into believing the hoax that there are no moral values, right and wrong, absolute truth, marriage fidelity, oaths, sanctity of human life (abortion, euthanasia), Scripture (progressive revelation), ethics, integrity, etc. All things are relative, we are told, and must be reinterpreted ‘scientifically’.” Dr. Caine adds that
Likewise, that there is a Triune Creator/Sovereign of the universe ‘that rules in the affairs of men’ gets in the way of the proponents of the humanist religion. So He must be labeled a myth that must be expunged. God is a hoax, the line goes. He was concocted to frighten the simple, simplistic, ignorant, superstitious masses with mores – ethics, ideals, morality, principles, and standards… Humanists employ the slight of hand linguist trick of substituting the religion of evolutionary humanism for the creation religion of Jehovah by tagging the latter ‘religion, forbidden by the First Amendment’ and the former ‘scientific fact’…Variations on this theme are the basic politically correct (at present – but changeable at whim) philosophy and program and policy of HHS, the Supreme Court, the educational ‘system,’ National Geographic, the ‘welfare’ system, the ‘health’ system, the mainstream media, much too much of some ‘organized’ religions, ‘organized’ medicine — all of which are, therefore, particeps criminis in this obvious, self-evident inconsistent insanity…For in the dichotomy there are only two alternatives: man will voluntarily accept to be ruled by his Creator, or he will be involuntarily ruled by the all powerful State…History has again repeated itself. Good people, ‘it’s Boston harbor tea time again!’
Now – when’s the last time you read something like that in a scientific academic medical journal?
In the Winter 2007 edition of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, “Henry H. Bauer, Ph.D” argues that “doctors, scientists, and others who question whether human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) have been called the moral equivalent of Holocaust deniers; their employers have
been urged to dismiss them… Evidently those who make these attacks are absolutely convinced that HIV causes AIDS. That raises the question of how much certainty is ever attainable in science…, both official reports and the peer-reviewed literature afford substantive grounds for doubting that HIV is the necessary and sufficient cause of AIDS and that anti-retroviral treatment is unambiguously beneficial.” As an example, he notes that President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa convened a group comprising both HIV/AIDS believers and HIV/AIDS skeptics, but that “the media coverage gave short shrift to the doubters’ views by comparison to the believers’ Durban Declaration with its 5,000 signatures, which asserted: ‘The evidence that AIDS is caused by HIV-1 or HIV-2 is clear-cut, exhaustive and unambiguous, meeting the highest standards of science…. It is unfortunate that a few vocal people deny the evidence. This position will cost countless lives‘.” He notes how the press treats fellow HIV denialists like Kary Mullis, whom he notes Harper’s as stating that “he has a wide range of odd beliefs. He does not believe in global warming, but does believe he might have been abducted by aliens and is partial to astrology.” The paper offers almost no data to bolster any alternative theories.
Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, in their book Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues From Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming, write that the Journal of Physicians and Surgeons, and their sponsor the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, have played a key role in the community of climate change deniers, and the Association had filed suit on behalf of Rush Limbaugh when his medical records were seized as part of his prosecution on drug charges, and noted that their journal articles which questioned the link between HIV and AIDs featured the commentary of Michael Fumento, a journalist who defended pesticides while accepting money from Monsanto, while other writers there stated the ban on DDT cost millions of lives.
Another of their 2007 Journal articles by scientists from their in-house Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, concludes with the following findings:
“There are no experimental data to support the hypothesis that increases in human hydrocarbon use or in atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are causing or can be expected to cause unfavorable changes in global temperatures, weather, or landscape. There is no reason to limit human production of CO, CH , and other minor greenhouse gases as has been proposed. We also need not worry about environmental calamities even if the current natural warming trend continues…Warmer weather extends growing seasons and generally improves the habitability of colder regions. As coal, oil, and natural gas are used to feed and lift from poverty vast numbers of people across the globe, more CO will be released into the atmosphere. This will help to maintain and improve the health, longevity, prosperity, and productivity of all people. The United States and other countries need to produce more energy, not less. The most practical, economical, and environmentally sound methods available are hydrocarbon and nuclear technologies. Human use of coal, oil, and natural gas has not harmfully warmed the Earth, and the extrapolation of current trends shows that it will not do so in the foreseeable future. The CO produced does, however, accelerate the growth rates of plants and also permits plants to grow in drier regions…Human activities are producing part of the rise in CO in the atmosphere. Mankind is moving the carbon in coal, oil, and natural gas from below ground to the atmosphere, where it is available for conversion into living things. We are living in an increasingly lush environment of plants and animals as a result of this CO increase.Our children will therefore enjoy an Earth with far more plant and animal life than that with which we now are blessed.”
They have remained consistent over the decades as to their political orientation. In 2013 they released a press release entitled, “Research Fails to Support Gun Control Agenda, According to Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons,” and began with the statement, “Organized medicine, especially the AMA and the American College of Physicians (ACP), is joining with the Obama Administration in calling for more gun control measures, but there is no “evidence-based” support for this, states Jane M. Orient, M.D., in the fall 2013 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.” They stated their opposition to universal background checks (favored by the overwhelming majority of Americans, including Republicans).
In 2007, National Public Radio published an article of the recent hiring of former business news anchor (and recent strong Trump supporter) Lou Dobbs and his new provocative views, such as a Sixty Minutes report on his earlier 2005 show from Christine Romans that suggested that there had been a huge recent increase in leprosy cases in the U.S. due to illegal immigration. They write:
“Romans’ story linked a rise in communicable diseases to illegal immigration. Romans then cited her source’s account of a rise from 900 cases of leprosy to 7,000 cases ‘in the past three years.’ Stahl said those figures reflected several decades of cases — not several years. And indeed, NPR found that federal health authorities cite a total of 6,500 recorded cases. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, new cases have been declining in the United States since 1988. In addition, NPR found problems with CNN’s source. The late Dr. Madeleine Cosman was a firebrand advocate against illegal immigration, a favorite of talk radio, who identified herself as a ‘medical lawyer.’ Her doctorate, from Columbia University, was in medieval literature, a field in which she was a frequent writer and lecturer. After her retirement as a professor, she earned a law degree from Cardozo Law School in New York, though her daughter was quoted after her death in 2006 by the San Diego Union-Tribune saying she never practiced law. But she wrote on many issues, and she told Romans she was frequently a consultant to doctors on legal medical issues. Despite Cosman’s background in academia, the article in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons that was cited by CNN’s Romans had footnotes that did not readily support allegations linking a recent rise in leprosy rates to illegal immigrants. (The journal itself is not considered a leading publication, as it’s put out by an advocacy group that opposes most government involvement in medical care.)“
After being confronted with this information, Dobbs still stood by the story.
In a 2005 article in Time Magazine, which focused on the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) cracking down on physicians thought to over-prescribe opioid and other strong medications, they write that
“The pain wars escalated last April when Virginia internist Dr. William Hurwitz was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison after 16 former patients testified against him and a jury found that the death of another patient was caused by an overdose. Hurwitz’s assets were seized, and now he is appealing his conviction with the help of the pain foundation and the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons…Prosecutors said Hurwitz prescribed ‘obscene’ amounts of medicine to patients he knew were addicted to cocaine and other drugs.”
Time Magazine also published a 2005 article in which the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) against physician board peer reviews of practices – meant to confirm quality control and the safety of patients from rogue doctors, and to maintain the integrity of the medical community itself. They write that “Physicians fear being sued by patients, a well-known fact, but many also worry about being targeted by fellow doctors through the process of peer review. Allegations of poor care or other serious complaints against a doctor go to a panel, consisting mainly of physicians, that decides in secret whether the accused has done wrong. That system is too open to manipulation and needs reform, says the 4,000-member American Association of Physicians and Surgeons.”
In 2009 the great investigative journalism institution and magazine Mother Jones published a brief article about the AAPS organization entitled, “The Tea Party’s Favorite Doctors.” They write:
“As tea partiers have become the leading opposition to health care reform, AAPS has lent credibility to their criticism of the emerging health care legislation. Before the big 9/12 rally in Washington, AAPS cosponsored a protest on Capitol Hill with the Tea Party Patriots that AAPS says attracted 1,000 physicians. The organization’s president, Mark Kellen, appeared with Georgia representatives Tom Price and Phil Gingrey—GOP members of the congressional doctors’ caucus—to slam the bill. AAPS docs hopped Tea Party Express buses to protest the American Medical Association’s annual meeting in Houston (the AMA endorsed the House bill)…When Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann called for tea partiers to come to the Capitol on November 5 to ‘kill the bill,’ AAPS doctors organized a national ‘tele-town hall’ to prep attendees. On Fox News and talk radio, AAPS docs often appear to offer an expert medical opinion against reform.”
“Some of its former leaders were John Birchers, and its political philosophy comes straight out of Ayn Rand. Its general counsel is Andrew Schlafly, son of the legendary conservative activist Phyllis. The AAPS statement of principles declares that it is ‘evil’ and ‘immoral’ for physicians to participate in Medicare and Medicaid…Its website features claims that tobacco taxes harm public health and electronic medical records are a form of ‘data control’ like that employed by the East German secret police. An article on the AAPS website speculated that Barack Obama may have won the presidency by hypnotizing voters, especially cohorts known to be susceptible to ‘neurolinguistic programming’—that is, according to the writer, young people, educated people, and possibly Jews.“
“For decades the AAPS has opposed any attempt—real or imagined—to expand the government’s role in health care. Its last big moment in the spotlight came in 1993, when it sued Hillary Clinton to stop ‘socialized medicine’…The organization requires members to sign a “declaration of independence” agreeing to stop participating with any third-party payers—meaning not only government programs like Medicare, but private insurers, too. Basically AAPS doctors believe that medicine should be a cash-and-carry business. This free-market fundamentalism has made the AAPS a natural ally for big corporations. Documents released as a result of the tobacco litigation the 1990s and early 2000s show that Philip Morris officials worked with AAPS executive director Jane Orient to help the company’s ‘junk science’ campaign that attacked indoor smoking bans. The tobacco company also relied on AAPS to generate ‘third party press releases’ in support of its agenda, according to documents in the tobacco archives. In this fall’s edition of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, an economist who has previously received funding from Philip Morris wrote an article arguing that a tobacco tax ‘leads to deterioration in public health’—because it leads people to switch to cigarettes with more nicotine so they can smoke fewer of them.”
In 2015 USA Today re-published a 2010 article from the Louisville Courier Journal that stated that
“Republican U.S. Senate nominee Rand Paul belongs to a conservative doctors’ group that, among other things, has expressed doubts about the connection between HIV and AIDS and suggested that President Barack Obama may have been elected because he was able to hypnotize voters. The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, based in Tucson, Ariz., advocates conservative and free-market solutions on health care and a variety of other political issues…Paul, a Bowling Green ophthalmologist, has touted his credentials as a doctor during this year’s Senate race against Attorney General Jack Conway, a Democrat. Speaking to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons’ annual conference last October in Nashville, Tenn., Paul said he has been a member of the group since at least 1990. ‘I use a lot of AAPS literature when I talk,’ he told the group…[AAPS chief Dr. Jane Orient] said the group has about 2,500 dues-paying members and a total membership of about 5,000. It counts among its members Paul’s father, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, and Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia, both Republicans. Its members are not required to be doctors. The AMA — which is often at odds with the AAPS — had a membership last year of 228,150…Dr. George Nichols, Kentucky’s former longtime medical examiner, said the association’s positions sound like a combination of ‘pseudoscience, public policy and mysticism’.”
“On its website, the association included an article in October 2008 titled, ‘Is Obama a Brilliant Orator … or a Hypnotist?’ It cites an unsigned paper suggesting that Obama used hypnotic techniques and speech patterns in his 2008 campaign. The paper bases its findings on the work of a controversial psychologist, Milton Erickson, who died 30 years ago and pioneered the also-controversial field of neuro-linguistic programming, which purports to use voice patterns to subliminally influence people’s decisions. The paper claims to examine Obama’s speeches ‘word by word, hand gesture by hand gesture, tone, pauses, body language, and proves his use of covert hypnosis intended only for licensed therapists on consenting patients.’ The paper goes on to say that Obama’s ‘mesmerized, cult-like, grade-school-crush-like worship by millions is not because “Obama is the greatest leader of a generation” who simply hasn’t accomplished anything, who magically “inspires” by giving speeches. Obama is committing perhaps the biggest fraud and deception in American history.’ The article notes that the Obama campaign logo ‘might just be the letter “O,” but it also resembles a crystal ball, a favorite of hypnotists.’ And it suggests that hypnosis is the reason some Jewish people backed him. ‘It is also interesting that many Jews are supporting a candidate who is endorsed by Hamas, Farrakhan, Khalidi and Iran,’ the article says.“
“The association included in its journal an article criticizing government efforts to encourage people to stop smoking as costly and ineffective and suggesting that the focus on the addictive nature of nicotine is wrong. ‘Repeating the message that nicotine is habit-forming convinces some smokers that their habit is not their fault and that they would be silly to attempt to quit on their own,’ wrote Michael L. Marlow, a professor at California Polytechnic State University. Marlow has received grants to study smoking bans from the Philip Morris Management Corp., the parent company of the cigarette manufacturer, according to a note in the journal that accompanies the article.”
“The association opposes peer-review boards, which review complaints against doctors and punish those who make mistakes. On the group’s website, Dr. Lawrence Huntoon, a former association president, calls peer review “‘an insidious and spreading evil which threatens to destroy not only the integrity of the medical profession but quality care for all patients’…Its website contains a link to a story titled ‘The War on Pain Sufferers’ on a libertarian website. The article says “people who suffer chronic pain are routinely under-treated because their doctors fear that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will accuse them of being drug pushers, destroy their practices, wipe them out financially, and throw them in jail for good measure’.”
“In its fall 2003 issue, the association’s journal published a report suggesting that the twin towers at the World Trade Center collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001, because the New York port authority, fearful of lawsuits and complying with new federal restrictions, stopped the use of flame-retardant asbestos midway through construction of the north tower. Asbestos, which had been used to fireproof buildings for generations before being effectively banned by the federal government, is a carcinogen that can lead to illnesses such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. ‘High concentrations of many useful substances cause, or at least facilitate, cancer,’ wrote Andrew Schlafly, the association’s general counsel. ‘Sunlight is an example. We do not prohibit items simply because they may be associated with cancer in high doses. Even useless substances like cigarettes are not banned from the market simply because they cause cancer.’ Schlafly also contends in the article that the use of asbestos might have prevented the tragedies involving the Challenger and Columbia space shuttles. Hans Gesund, a professor of structural engineering at the University of Kentucky…said other suitable insulating materials were used in the World Trade Center’s twin towers, which were destroyed when planes hijacked by terrorists flew into them.”
In 2015 The New York Times also reported on Sen. Paul’s association with the AAPS. They add that
“Back in 2009, when Rand Paul was pursuing his long-shot bid to win Kentucky’s Republican Senate primary, he spoke to a small physicians’ association that has publicized discredited medical theories…Mr. Paul, an ophthalmologist, was no stranger to the group, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. He boasted at its annual meeting that he had been a member for more than two decades and that he relied on its research, statistics and views about the role of government in medicine. ‘I am not a newcomer to AAPS,’ Mr. Paul said, referring to the group…Mr. Paul and the physicians’ association share a libertarian philosophy and deep skepticism about government involvement in medical care that often plays out in public health debates. ‘This is about channeling ideals of freedom, personal choice and liberty, even if you put the community in peril in the process,’ said Dr. Arthur L. Caplan, an expert in medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center. In an interview with Fox News in 2010, [Paul] lauded the organization’s tradition of fighting government intrusion into medicine, such as suing to stop the Clinton administration’s overhaul efforts in the 1990s and opposing the Affordable Care Act. He suggested that the association was expanding fast enough to rival the mainstream physicians’ group, the American Medical Association, which he said was out of step with doctors nationwide. ‘The A.M.A. has been struggling for years, and they do not represent doctors across the country,’ he said. ‘And AAPS has been growing dramatically as doctors who want to fight against big government join together under a different banner. The A.M.A. doesn’t represent me. I’ve never been a member.’ As recently as the summer of 2012, Mr. Paul was featured as a speaker at a teleconference town hall that the association hosted on the subject of Medicare reimbursement for doctors. The group has also provided the senator with modest contributions to his campaign, including $3,000 to his Senate candidacy in 2010…More than a decade ago, the group unsuccessfully urged the United States Supreme Court to release post-mortem photographs of a former Clinton administration official, Vincent Foster, arguing that they were needed to make certain that Mr. Foster, whose death was attributed to suicide, had not been murdered.”
Senator Paul’s involvement in rogue medical organizations that focused on economic financial advantages versus widely accepted standards of quality care did not begin with his involvement with the AAPS. During his early campaign activities, mainstream news reports were revealing Paul’s earlier role in setting up his own private competing ophthamological certifying boards to resist efforts of the accepted institutions to require ophthamologists to meet standards periodically in ten-year certifying tests to confirm the continuance of their skills and knowledge. Fox News published a report from the Associated Press that alleged the following:
“Rand Paul, who touts his career as a Kentucky eye doctor as part of his outsider credentials in his campaign for U.S. Senate, isn’t certified by his profession’s leading group. The libertarian-leaning Republican helped create a rival certification group more than a decade ago. He said the group has since recertified several hundred ophthalmologists, despite not being recognized the American Board of Medical Specialties – the governing group for two dozen medical specialty boards…Paul, who is continuing to practice in Bowling Green during the campaign, chafed Monday at questions about his certification. ‘It’s a personal assault on my ability to make a living,’ Paul told The Associated Press…’you vilify me and make it out to sound, “Oh, … there’s something wrong with him as a physician because he chose not to register“‘ with the American Board of Ophthalmology. Paul said he helped formed the rival group because the established organization exempted older ophthalmologists from re-certification…In the late 1990s, Paul was a driving force behind forming the National Board of Ophthalmology to protest the ABO’s exemption policy. Paul has been certified through the National Board of Ophthalmology since 2005. He is listed as the group’s president; his wife, Kelley, is listed as vice president; and his father-in-law is listed as secretary…Beth Ann Slembarski, administrator for the American Board of Ophthalmology, said less than 5 percent of the nation’s practicing ophthalmologists aren’t certified through her organization. Paul shrugged off his group’s lack of recognition by the American Board of Medical Specialties. ‘Do you think that they’re going to recognize a competitor?’ he said.”
In 2015 The Washington Post added,
“The board certified only 50 or 60 doctors, by Paul’s count, and was never accepted by the medical establishment. It failed partly because of resistance from the old guard — but also because Paul hurt his own cause with shortcuts and oversights that made his big effort seem small. The other officers of his board, for instance, weren’t ophthalmologists. They were his wife and father-in-law. His Web site was mainly a mission statement, and his mission statement had grammatical errors. And, after Paul missed a filing deadline in 2000, the state legally dissolved his board. Although Paul kept it operating, it remained unrecognized by the state until he officially revived it in 2005…Hilton Ashby, Paul’s father-in-law, was listed as the board’s secretary for much of its existence. Even he isn’t sure what he did. ‘I never did go to any meetings,’ Ashby said in a phone interview. ‘There was really nothing involved. It was more just a title than anything else, for me.’…Oddly, Paul also listed his address incorrectly in one filing with the state. In 2009, he signed the board’s annual report that said he, his wife and father-in-law resided at a house in Portsmouth, Ohio. But Paul lived in Bowling Green, as he does now. The occupant of the Ohio house at that time — a local pro wrestler and wrestling promoter named Dirk “Extreme” Cunningham — said in a phone interview that he’d never met Paul, and had no connection to the board…Most importantly, Paul never formally applied to have his board accepted by the American Board of Medical Specialties, the unofficial gatekeeper for new medical boards. Without its approval, Paul’s certification was close to useless. Many hospitals and insurance companies wouldn’t accept it as a valid credential.”
To be fair, Paul is not the only congressman affiliated with the AAPS organization. In February 2017, The Washington Post reported that Tom Price, who was being submitted as the Trump Administration’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, was a member of AAPS. They wrote,
“The Georgia Republican had already been a House member for a half-dozen years when he made the wisecrack at the 2011 annual meeting of a conservative, fringe medical group to which he belongs. Now that he appears on the cusp of Senate confirmation as the Trump administration’s secretary of health and human services, such remarks and his affiliations over a long career in medicine and politics shed light on the intensity of his beliefs — and show that he would lead a department whose mission and bureaucrats he has repeatedly deplored…The group, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), holds positions that are at wide variance with basics of federal health policy. It opposes Medicare, the government’s health insurance for older Americans…In 2009, Price received an award from a small conservative group called Doctors for Patient Freedom. The group was founded by a Florida neurosurgeon, David McKalip, who leads Florida’s chapter of the AAPS and is a past president of the Florida Neurosurgical Society. He gained brief notoriety that year after emailing to a tea party group an image depicting then-President Barack Obama in tribal dress with a bone through his nose…the AAPS had given [Price] its Shining Scalpel Award and praised him for “outstanding service to the American people and the profession of medicine by ‘cutting’ through the political rhetoric regarding ‘healthcare reform,’ and fighting for patient- and physician-centered healthcare legislation.”
The Corona-Virus/Hydroxychloroquine Deep State Conspiracy has been shown to be an ideal incident for the AAPS to enter the fray on the side of alleging that the entire global community of esteemed experts in immunology are part of an international cabal to destroy humanity, by means of discouraging the public from unnecessarily spreading a deadly pandemic disease by wearing a little cloth mask, staying away form large groups and exhibiting proper hygiene, as has been followed in all prior pandemics. By May 20, 2020, the aforementioned Dr. Simone Gold, the ring-leader of “America’s Frontline Doctors” along with her sidekick Dr. Stella Immanuel (the “Satanic ‘Magic 8-Ball’ as controller of our children” religious as well as medical expert), also formed another ad-hoc doctor’s organization called “A Doctor A Day” along with Newport Beach doctor Jeffrey Barke, intended to organize a petition of 600 doctors to implore President Trump to open the economy and remove any “stay at home” restrictions in the midst of the worst stages of the raging pandemic to date, and rather expose the public to carriers of the deadly virus to “protect their physical and mental health” (NOTE: today as I write this, I just saw my doctor to check on my statin drug dosage and get a mini-physical, give a blood sample and get a flu shot, as we all wore masks, and my health care (or mental health) was not impeded at all). Subsequently, in May 2020 it was reported that
“To collect signatures for the letter, Gold and Barke partnered with the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a group of doctors who…notably took part in legal challenges against the Affordable Care Act and advocated allowing doctors to use hydroxychloroquine on themselves and their patients…Gold, who is a member of the national board of directors of the Save Our Country Coalition – an assortment of conservative groups that aim to ‘bring about a rapid, safe and responsible reopening of American society’ – also said that she feared that his message about the misdeeds of closures is becoming politicized.“
On May 21 The Hill added that “Some of the doctors who signed onto the letter are aligned with a small right-wing medical organization called the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)…Gold said she does not belong to the group, but many of their members share her views about a fast reopening.”
By May, 24, 2020, the London-based Guardian newspaper gave additional details on what had become an international story as to the curious nature of President Trump’s infatuation with hydroxychloroquine, and his influences (more specifically, the AAPS) to embrace it and similar “rabbits out of a hat” in his search for quick solutions to deflect from critiques of his management of the crisis:
“The group [AAPS] was recently cited by Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, to explain the president’s stunning announcement that he is taking the drug hydroxychloroquine in an attempt to protect himself against Covid-19 despite a lack of evidence of its effectiveness. When asked what evidence guided the president’s decision-making, Trump said: “Are you ready? Here’s my evidence: I get a lot of positive calls about it”…Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of AAPS, told the Guardian she believed the drug ‘should be prescribed more often,’ and in a statement based on a flawed database claimed the drug offered ‘about 90% chance of helping Covid-19 patients’…She did not say how many doctors she knew were prescribing it, and declined to answer whether she herself was prescribing it. ‘I don’t want to have a target put on my back … which could result in somebody wanting to scrutinize my entire practice,’ Orient said…’They seem frequently to offer advice and opinions about medical practice that are not consistent with evidence-based medicine,’ said Dr Michael Carome, an expert on drug and medical device safety at Public Citizen, a public advocacy group. ‘They’re aligned with the Trump administration, that doesn’t believe in science, doesn’t believe in fact. They’re completely compatible with the Trump White House‘…Trump’s first health and human services secretary, Tom Price, was a member of AAPS. In a 2011 video unearthed by the Washington Post, Price called Orient a ‘kindred” spirit.’ He said: ‘It’s always wonderful to be in the same room with Jane Orient. Jane has been a hero of mine.’ Price later resigned after spending $1m in taxpayer funds on private jets.”
They also show a May 19 tweet by Trump campaign manager Parscale that retweeted a story about the AAPS forwarding a letter to Arizona Governor Ducey about hydroxychrloquine’s supposed “90 percent effectiveness” (counter to several large-sample clinical trials), with Parscale adding that “The press is going nuts over @realDonaldTrump taking hydroxychloroquine (prescribed by doctor). Of course, if he’s doing it, they must oppose it. But the Assoc. of American Physicians & Surgeons says otherwise.”
By June 22, 2020 the AAPS released the following press release on their website:
“Today the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons filed its motion for a preliminary injunction to compel release to the public of hydroxychloroquine by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), in AAPS v. HHS, No. 1:20-cv-00493-RJJ-SJB (W.D. Mich.). Nearly 100 million doses of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) were donated to these agencies, and yet they have not released virtually any of it to the public. Millions of Americans fear attending political gatherings, religious services, and even large family get-togethers without the availability of early treatment if they were to contract COVID-19…’Why does the government continue to withhold more than 60 million doses of HCQ from the public?‘ asks Jane Orient, M.D., the Executive Director of AAPS. ‘This potentially life-saving medication is wasting away in government warehouses while Americans are dying from COVID-19.’ Today AAPS files its motion for a preliminary injunction to compel the government to release HCQ from its stockpile to the public…AAPS agrees with President Trump’s adviser Peter Navarro, Ph.D., who decries the obstruction by officials within the FDA to making this medication available to the public. President Trump himself has successfully taken this medication as a preventative measure, so why can’t ordinary Americans? ‘A perfect storm of politics in this presidential election year, along with conflicts of interest at the Defendant federal agencies, has resulted in unjustified obstacles to access to HCQ’…AAPS writes in its brief being filed today in federal court. AAPS files with the court a chart showing how countries that encourage HCQ use, such as South Korea, India, Turkey, Russia, and Israel, have been far more successful in combatting COVID-19 than countries that have banned or discouraged early HCQ use, as the FDA has…’The interference with public access to hydroxychloroquine is disrupting our political processes,’ notes AAPS General Counsel Andrew Schlafly. “Perhaps that is what some want, in order to deter Americans from attending political conventions and even voting…‘”
When I saw the name of “Andrew Schlafly,” the general counsel of the AAPS, I knew that name rang a bell, in addition to being the son of what is undeniably the most effective conservative activist in American history (rivaled only by Ronald Reagan himself), Phyllis Schlafly. I had to go back and find a February 2017 blog post I had made about Andrew Schlafly, as the eccentric founder of “Conservapedia” and the “Conservative Bible.” I know this is a long excerpt of an older blog post of mine within and already very long blog post, but I think it illustrates the kind of crowd we are dealing with, with the AAPS, Dr. Gold and “America’s Frontline Doctors” and other hydroxchloroquine advocates, if any of us have any doubts:
This post topic came to mind the other day when I was reminded of a recent project I heard about that created a “Conservative Bible”…It was overseen by Andrew Schlafly, the originator of the Wikipedia variant “Conservapedia” (which only features data supporting conservative worldviews), and the son of conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly. As a “grand dame” of the conservative movement, she shook the political world in 1964 with her book A Choice Not an Echo, and is recognized by historians by almost singlehandedly defeating the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, after it had almost passed enough state legislations, by means of her aggressive organization and activism. Her organization “The Eagle Forum” was a bastion of conservative family and moral issues and their political and legal defense, and a prototype for later conservative “family” organizations. As a staunch religiously-conservative Roman Catholic and defender of traditional Christian family values and role models, she embraced Donald Trump as such a role model and his 2016 campaign (ironically her son was also eventually “outed” as a practicing homosexual). Her work also promoted the conservative values of unbridled capitalism (aka the Social Darwinist credo of “each man for himself”) and privatization to corporate control of the public interest. And true to these values of unregulated corporate behavior, Schlafly’s own beloved Eagle Forum organization was subject to some type of hostile takeover by members of her own board of directors, including her own daughter, shortly before her death in 2016. The cited online reference from its Missouri branch wrote that “Word has come of a rogue board meeting and an upcoming hostile takeover of Eagle Forum’s board and its assets. Phyllis Schlafly’s endorsement of Trump is a likely catalyst. But you can be sure the real objective is to control the Eagle Forum bank accounts and that the Gang of 6 will present a carefully crafted excuse for public consumption”. She told World Net Daily that the coup was real and that “this may be my Dobson moment (when the board of Focus on the Family similarly forced founder James Dobson out), was based upon her endorsement of Trump, and was led by her own daughter.”
Her son, Andrew Schlafly, is a “chip of the old block” who has forged his own conservative venues, such as his online resource “Conservapedia”, which is intended to be a Wikipedia-like information source with only conservative-approved information. A brilliant person himself with an engineering degree from Princeton and a doctorate from Harvard Law School, he founded Conservapedia in 2006 when he was alarmed to read a student assignment (as a homeschool teacher) using the now-accepted Common Era (C.E.) historical dating nomenclature, versus the Anno Domini (A.D.) earlier tradition. Schlafly objectively explains on the “About” page on his Conservapedia site that “Conservapedia is a clean and concise resource for those seeking the truth. We do not allow liberal bias to deceive and distort here. Founded initially in November 2006 as a way to educate advanced, college-bound homeschoolers, this resource has grown into a marvelous source of information for students, adults and teachers alike”. He adds that “We have received over 500 million page views!”, and notes that “A conservative approach to education is powerful and helpful in many ways. It equips students and adults to overcome inevitable obstacles, such as addiction and depression…There are few, if any, conservative schools…The truth shall set you free..No other encyclopedic resource on the internet is free of corruption by liberal untruths.”
To get a feel of the type of narrative and perspective provided on Conservapedia, a look at its front page on February 21, 2017 notes that its “popular articles” include those on “global warming”, “feminism”, “homeschooling”, “evolution”, “liberal claptrap”, “hollywood values”, “biblical scientific foreknowledge”, “Donald Trump”, “free market”, “George Patton”, “Globalism”, “Conservapedia proven right”, “Ex-homosexuals”, “Battle of Thermopylae”, “greatest conservative songs”, “counterexamples to relativity”, “liberal bias”, “liberal style”, “Chuck Norris”, “bias in Wikipedia”, “Mystery: Why do Non-Conservatives Exist?”, “Barack Hussein Obama” and “Professor Values”, to name a few. It also features a late-breaking “In the News” segment, with story titles such as “White House Signals Reversal in Transgender Bathroom Policy, overturning another Leftist policy by Obama”, “Trump was Right: Riots Break Out in Rinkeby, Sweden”, “Conservapedia Proven Right, Again”, “More fake news by the lamestream media”, and “Melania Trump Recites the Lord’s Prayer at Melbourne Rally – CROWD GOES WILD!”, and many other such reference citations for academics and researchers.
Regarding its rival Wikipedia, its Conservapedia page dedicated to it notes that “Most of Wikipedia’s articles can be edited publicly by both registered and anonymous editors, mostly consisting of teenagers and the unemployed. As such it tends to project a liberal – and, in some cases, even socialist, Communist, and Nazi-sympathizing-worldview, which is totally at odds with conservative reality and rationality” (emphasis added). It notes that Wikipedia founders Jimbo Wales and “atheist philosophy professor Larry Sanger” are both atheists, and that “its articles are a mixture of truths, half-truths and falsehoods,” quoting World Net Daily editor Joseph Farah as saying that Wikipedia “is not only a provider of inaccuracy and bias. It is wholesale purveyor of lies and slander unlike any other the world has ever seen.” It does fairly point out that “Wikipedia has millions of entries on trivia and mundane topics”, but smacks of that “systemic liberal bias that dominates Wikipedia”. They also perceptively point out that “the ‘hammer and sickle’ of the leftist ideology which murdered millions in the former Soviet Union – is featured prominently on the instruction page as well as the tags that mark each uploaded image.” They are also known at Conservapedia for taking a strong stand against what they perceive to be one of the greatest threats to political conservatism – Einstein’s general theory of relativity in physics. Their page on the “theory of relativity” begins by warning that “The theory of relativity is defended with religious-like zeal, such that no college faculty tenure, Ph.D degree, or Nobel Prize is ever awarded to anyone who dares criticize the theory,” and its article titles within this topic comprise those such as “Lack of Evidence for Relativity”, and “Experiments that Fail To Prove Relativity.” They note that “Despite censorship of dissent about relativity, evidence contrary to the theory is discussed outside of liberal universities.” They add that “some liberal politicians have extrapolated the theory of relativity to metaphorically justify their own political agendas…Applications of the theory of relativity to change morality have also been common.” The article is associated at its conclusion with other wiki topics, such as “Liberal pseudoscience”, which includes “Black holes”, dark matter” and “moral relativism”. On the dedicated Conservapedia page “Counterexamples to Relativity”, they begin by noting that “The theory of relativity is disproved by numerous counterexamples, but it promoted by liberals who like its encouragement of relativism and its tendency to pull people away from the Bible.” This leads the prominent scientific magazine New Scientist to state, “In the end there is no liberal conspiracy at work. Unfortunately, humanities scholars often confuse the issue by misusing the term ‘relativity’. The theory in no way encourages relativism, regardless of what Conservapedia may think.”
Conservapedia does provide some pages with useful definitions of popular political terms today we can use for this post. In their page on the topic “Liberal,” emblazoned with a picture of “Barack Hussein Obama” and stated to be the “least successful president in history,” states at the beginning that “A liberal is someone who craves an increase in government spending, power, and control, such as Obamacare. Liberals also support the censorship and denial of Christianity. Liberals who are a part of the secular left prefer the atheist religion over the Christian faith, as atheism has no objective morality to hinder their big government plans.” They add that “Liberals favor a welfare state where people receive endless entitlements without working,” and that “All liberals support, in knee-jerk fashion, the oppositive of conservative principles, while lacking an actual ideology or values of their own. Many of them cannot understand Christian language.” They are also known for (a) “Denial of science (especially creation science),” (b) “Hypocrisy,” (c) “The belief that terrorism is not a huge threat, and that the main reason for Muslim extremists’ hostility towards America is because of bad foreign policy,” (d) “Hedonism,” (e) “Rejection of Biblical standards,” (f) “Hatred,” (g) “Murder,” (h) “crying instead of accepting reality,” (i) “Cessation of teacher-led prayer in classrooms,” (h) “tyranny,” (i) “Treason,” (j) “pseudo-intellectualism”, (k) “genocide”, (l) “fascism”, (m) “Destroying conservative family values and replacing them with immoral Hollywood values”, (n) “High progressive taxes as a form of class warfare against wealthy business owners”, (o) “Sadism”, (p) “racism”, (q) “slander”, (r) “Obesity”, (s) “environmentalism”, (t) pedophilia”, (u) “mutilating corpses”, (v) “enforced homosexuality”, and many more unsavory attributes. They add that, “In practical usage, the term ‘liberal’ is more closely synonymous with ‘radical’, ‘immoral’, ‘anti-freedom’, ‘elitist’, or ‘bad’”. Their list of ‘Notable liberal ‘intellects’” includes “Barack Hussein Obama”, “Dracula”, “David Thorstad, a founding member of NAMBLA”, “Adolf Hitler”, “Karl Marx’, “Lee Harvey Oswald”, “Benito Mussolini”, “Margaret Thatcher” (for decriminalizing homosexuality), and “Osama Bin Laden”. Their list of “Liberal Organizations” included AARP, AFL-CIO and others.
It also has a page dedicated to “Conservatism”. On it, it notes that “A conservative is someone who rises above his personal self-interest and promotes moral and economic values beneficial to all. A conservative is willing to learn and advocate the insights of economics and the logic of the Bible for the benefit of everyone else. A conservative favors conserving value by not giving handouts to anyone who does not really need them”. Regarding their “goals and principles”, they note that conservatives seek or support “capitalism and free markets”, “classroom prayer”, “the concept of retribution for crimes, including the death penalty for heinous murders proven beyond reasonable doubt”, “family values, including traditional relationships and division of labor within the household” (emphasis added), “The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms”, “Economic allocative efficiency (as opposed to popular equity)”, “Private medical care and retirement plans”, “cancelling failed social support programs”, “enforcement of current laws regarding immigration”, “respect for our military – past and present”, “rejection of junk science such as evolution and global warming”, “a strong national defense”, “A dedication to the truth, and an ability to seek it”, and “ending entitlement programs”, amongst others.”
“The contribution Schlafly and Conservapedia is most known for is their origination of the “Conservative Bible” translation. The Conservapedia page on the “Conservative Bible Project” notes that its goal is to “render God’s word into modern English without archaic language and liberal translation distortions”. They add that the first draft of the Conservative New Testament was completed on April 23, 2010, and many of the Old Testament books are completed as well. It adds that “Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations”, and that “the third – and largest – source of translation error requires conservative principles to reduce and eliminate”. It notes that “As of 2009, there was no fully conservative translation of the Bible which satisfies the following ten guidelines”, including “Framework against Liberal Bias”, “Not Emasculated”, “Combat Harmful Addiction”, “Express Free Market Parables” (“explaining the numerous economic parables in their full free-market meaning”), “Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness”, and “Exclude Later-inserted Inauthentic Passages” (i.e., “excluding the interpolated passages that liberals commonly put their own spin on, such as the adulteress story”). It notes that the “benefits” of the new Conservative Bible include “benefiting from activity that no public school would ever allow; a Conservative Bible could become a text for public school courses”, “political issues can become a pathway to evangelizing liberals”, and “this project has a unifying effect on various Christian denominations, and serves as an important counterweight to liberal efforts to divide conservative candidates based on religion”. Some of the “Helpful Approaches” that are cited from the Conservative Bible include to “identify pro-liberal terms used in existing Bible translations, such as ‘government’, and suggest more accurate substitutes”, and “identify conservative terms that are omitted from existing translations”. They add that “Many consider the Conservative Bible project, as well as any other Bible translation projects, to be heretical and in opposition to Matthew 5:18, which was fulfilled in the King James Bible”. They use as examples of censored Bible passages in the Conservative Bible such as Luke 23:34, “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’” (adding that, “Is this a corruption of the original, perhaps promoted by liberals without regard to its authenticity?”, since “This quotation is a favorite of liberals”), as well as Luke 16:8, where they change the “shrewd” manager of Christ’s parable to “resourceful”. Among the “Advantages to a Conservative Bible” they list include “liberal bias – and lack of authenticity – becomes easier to recognize and address”, “supported by conservative principles, the project can be bolder in uprooting and excluding liberal distortions”, “the ensuing debate would flesh out – and stop – the infiltration of churches by liberals/atheists pretending to be Christian, much as a vote by legislators exposes the liberals”, “this would bring the Bible to a new audience of political types, for their benefit; Bible courses in college Politics Departments would be welcome”, and “this would debunk the pervasive and hurtful myth that Jesus would be a political liberal today”.
As example of the improvements provided by the Conservative Bible, in the Sermon on the Mount on Matthew 5 it says Jesus “began His Torah” instead of “He opened His mouth”, and states “Blessed are those who are not full of themselves” rather than “Blessed are the poor in spirit”. In 2009 Stephen Colbert interviewed Schlafly about his Conservative Bible on his “Colbert Report” show . There he states that Jesus’ parables were “free market parables”. Salon Magazine actually listed verses from the Conservative Bible, where the term “Pharisees” has been changed to “liberals”, so that Mark 3:6 reads, “The Liberals then fled from the scene to plot with Herod’s people against Jesus, and plan how they might destroy Him”, and in Mark 10:23-25. they change Christ’s words “for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” to “for an idle miser to enter into the kingdom of God”.
I think this excerpt from an earlier blog post of mine reveals how people like Mr. Schlafly fit with the AAPS, Drs. Gold and Immanuel, and the hydroxychloroquine and Trump crowds, and their allegations of widespread conspiracy and exorcism of inconvenient “fake news.”
As a bonus bit of material on Mother Schlafly herself, I have also noticed a mention of her in a 2006 biography of her that “Schlafly and other “moral conservatives” revolted at the 1960 Republican convention after Richard Nixon supported a civil rights plank (proposed by Nelson Rockefeller) demanding “aggressive action” against segregation and discrimination.” More importantly, I also bumped into an April 22, 2020 article in The Daily Beast writes that
Phyllis Schlafly was a secret member of the John Birch Society, the far-right group infamous for its support of segregation and its belief that a communist conspiracy had taken over the United States, according to documents newly obtained by researcher Ernie Lazar through FOIA requests…Throughout her life, Schlafly insisted she had never been part of the far-right group , as in a 1975 New York Times article that noted “Mrs. Schlafly’s opponents have hinted in the past that her campaign was financed by money from the John Birch Society. She denies it, as well as, denying having ever belonged to the ultraconservative organization.” Contradicting that claim was none other than the founder and chief of the Society, candy manufacturer Robert Welch, who referred to Schlafly as “a very loyal member of the Birch Society” in the February 1960 issue of the JBS Bulletin. But with Schlafly herself insisting otherwise, that could hardly be considered definitive.
In 1962, the JBS was the only group proposing that Barry Goldwater be the Republican candidate for president. That stance, and the group’s growing unpopularity with the public at large, led conservative opponents including American Enterprise Institute head William Baroody, philosopher Russel Kirk, and National Review editor William F. Buckley Jr., to meet in Palm Beach, Florida in January of 1964 to discuss the possibility of Goldwater running for president…In the next issue of National Review, Buckley wrote a 5,000-word attack on Welch, who had declared in 1958 that “my firm belief that Dwight Eisenhower is a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy is based on an accumulation of detailed evidence so extensive and so palpable that it seems to me to put this conviction beyond any reasonable doubt.” Welch added that the government of the United States was “under operational control of the Communist party.”
Hence, the dilemma facing Schlafly. As a major proponent of a Goldwater candidacy, and author of her own 1964 book favoring his run, A Choice, Not an Echo, Schlafly was now on the map as a principal figure who attacked the old GOP elite establishment and demanded that a true conservative and opponent of Communism become the party’s nominee and standard bearer. “Hundreds of thousands of copies were distributed in California before the crucial primary election and the national convention there,” The New York Times reported. In 2016, Schlafly — whose fight against the ERA is now the subject of a new FX on Hulu docudrama, Mrs. America, starring Cate Blanchett — penned her final book, The Conservative Case for Trump. In it, she argued that he represented the resurgence of the populist and nationalist movement she had always supported, as “on issue after issue Donald Trump has said what we’ve been told is the unsayable.”
Yet Schlafly denied to the end that she ever was a JBS member. I speculate that because it was because the group was so widely mocked and reviled — including in the Bob Dylan song Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues and The John Birch Society by the Chad Mitchell Trio, then featuring John Denver, both issued in 1962 — that she feared the association would have damaged first Goldwater and then her anti-ERA campaign. After that, perhaps it was too late for her to admit the deception now fully exposed by the new documents shared by Lazar. In the first of those, Schlafly wrote a letter on her personal stationary to Verne Kaub, head of the American Council of Christian Laymen in Madison, Wisconsin. She would be happy, she wrote on December 5, 1959, “to send you the list of persons who attended Bob Welch’s meeting.” She then added: “The John Birch Society is doing a (sic) wonderful work, and my husband and I both joined promptly after the Chicago meeting.” On August 19, 1964, Welch wrote a five-page letter addressed to Mrs. Tom Anderson, rather than by her own name Carolyn. The letter concerned books that the Society was pushing that would impugn Lyndon B. Johnson and praise Barry Goldwater. Welch was concerned that some JBS members had “made some brief rumblings” about their discontent that the Society was discouraging any “mass exploitation of Phyllis Schlafly’s A CHOICE NOT AN ECHO by The American Opinion Library in Nashville.” They took this course, he said, at “the request of Schlafly herself.” Despite some disagreement with her over one or two issues he did not specify, Welch wrote that her book was “excellent, and was going to be very helpful in the [Goldwater] campaign.”
Nevertheless, he noted that some top campaign officials were “extremely fearful” that the book’s influence could be harmed “if they could tie it in any way to the John Birch Society, and that any such development might actually damage rather than help the total Goldwater cause.” Next, Welch presented the bombshell. “Phyllis even resigned from the Society,” he wrote, “when she brought the book out, in order to avoid this possibility.” And with her “full knowledge and even appreciation,” Welch continued, “her book was never mentioned in the Bulletin of the Society nor even in American Opinion,” the Society’s magazine. Welch took care never to have her books shipped to them in bulk, or carried it in their wholesale department. Nonetheless, 300,000 books were distributed in California by the Society, ahead of the state’s primary and the party’s convention there that year. They were careful not to distribute them through Society bookstores “to any sufficient extent as to give the enemy a lever with which to raise the storm and smear that they would have liked to bring about.”
Today, the conspiratorial mindset of the JBS lives on in the MAGA movement cheered on by the Society itself, which is still limping along. In a December 2016 interview in American Opinion, new CEO Arthur R. Thompson said…the Society’s job now is to keep Trump honest, noting that most of his campaign issues “were issues that our Society pioneered…when no other organization would touch them.” Trump’s movement, he boasted, “was created by the members of the John Birch Society, directly or indirectly.”
You can now see how with AAPS’s Andrew Schlafly, the “nut doesn’t fall far from the tree” (with emphasis on nut), and the generations-old playbook of how the right-wing fringe and their more popular public figures have become adept at covering their tracks, including the figures and forces behind the COVID/hydroxychloroquine conspiracy political agenda.
By July 22, the AAPS reported on their own website that
“This week the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons submitted additional evidence to a federal court for why interference with hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) should end by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), in AAPS v. FDA…AAPS informed the court in its filing [that] “Countries with underdeveloped health care systems are using HCQ early and attaining far lower mortality than in the United States, where [HHS and the FDA] impede access to HCQ”…“Citizens of the Philippines, Poland, Israel, and Turkey all have greater access to HCQ than American citizens do,” observes AAPS General Counsel Andrew Schlafly. “In Venezuela, HCQ is available over the counter without a prescription…In its filing, the FDA insisted that the public has no right to access nearly 100 million doses of HCQ which were donated to the Strategic National Stockpile…”In some areas of Central America, officials are even going door to door to distribute HCQ,” Andrew Schlafly adds. AAPS filed this lawsuit to obtain legal redress in support of Trump, by ending the obstruction by the FDA of his policies that would save lives.”
So…we should emulate “countries with underdeveloped health care systems,” as well as Israel and Venezuela in their government policies and strategies? Why not mention Brazil? And who who donated the supposed “100 million doses of HCQ to the Strategic National Stockpile?
This “brief” (ahem) background information to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) was intended to assist you in putting into proper perspective the following online position of the AAPS on their website (from July 31) concerning Dr. Gold’s predicament (pertaining to her recent job loss, as mentioned earlier in this post), and to be fair, it actually does admit some real truths as to why a maverick doctor like Dr. Gold would be in jeopardy of her job with her very public, aggressive profile and dissident views, and the impact it has on her mainstream medical institution employer and their own standing within the medical community and public:
A doctor who is employed or has contracts with managed care is not really YOUR doctor, and constantly has to worry about what happened to Dr. Simone Gold, as reported by Tucker Carlson on July 30. After holding a press conference in Washington, D.C., she was fired from her job as an emergency physician. Previously, she had been reprimanded for prescribing hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for COVID-19…Under the First Amendment, the U.S. Congress cannot violate your right to assemble and speak, but this does not apply to private entities. Most doctors have signed a contract permitting their employer to terminate them without cause. They have virtually no rights. Dr. Stella Immanuel, who gave a powerful talk at the conference, is in private practice and works for her patients. But like all licensed professionals, she could lose her privilege to work if the medical licensure board disapproves of what she says or does. She has been making her COVID-19 patients well (dare we say “curing” them?) by prescribing HCQ. After the press conference had garnered more than 20 million views, the social media giants took it down, and the website was deplatformed. They found a new platform, and America’s Frontline Doctors are back. The press conference was also preserved.
AAPS is right in this regard. A private employer who pays you to represent them and their board policies and community standing (intended to tamp down eccentric individuals who deviate from established, widely agreed-upon policies and procedures, to protect the public and the reputation of the medical community) has a right to defend the interests of the collective of medical professionals in their organization, the hospital and the organization itself when doctors go “rogue.” She presumably had signed a contract with this institution, agreeing to honor these policies as long as she was paid by them and represented them. Furthermore, she was generously warned by her employer to stop her deviant and very public activities prior to her dismissal, which she publicly ignored. The honorable thing for her to have done, if she were so convinced of the immediate public peril of not using the drug, was to honor her legal and employer restrictions and resign first – with the deep pockets of the Tea Party (as shown in the last post) more than capable of making her a well-paid, Balaam-styled “gun for hire.” Similarly, “Magic 8-Ball” Dr. Immanuel could be in jeopardy of her licensure with her discredited positions and posture that she has made front and center in the public, on behalf of a partisan political organization; if a license board does not police people for her eccentric positions, particularly when they could endanger the public health in her community and nationwide during a deadly pandemic rife with misinformation to which the ignorant and gullible public is vulnerable to when hearing short-cut “good news” via “patent medicine,” than what good are they for in ensuring the public interest?
A position of the medical “establishment” at any time may be debatable, and procedures have been established in the past for dissenting minority views within their practices to be debated, vetted, and long-term studies reviewed and repeated by differing institutions to slowly and carefully move the consensus in a responsible way. But, when one “goes rogue” by appealing directly to partisan political entities with a vested stake in the position, and then directly to an ignorant public with accusations of “widespread conspiracy” and appeals for immediate political hamstringing of accepted medical guidance, what does this do to the long-term integrity of a medical community we have all come to rely upon, even while investigators perform their role in keeping them honest, exposing fraud and corruption, and informing the public debate in fully vetted fashion? Do we now place yet another institution previously held to the highest degree of integrity and credibility practicable by means of licensing, peer review vetting and internal debates now subject to the whims of whoever makes the most exciting and scandalous pitch to the unlearned (or who can yell the loudest using the deep pockets and PR tools of special interests), like The National Inquirer, and a “Wild West” of “anything goes,” in which everything is “fake news” and nothing can be relied upon except our primal hunches and urges of what we want to hear? Are we now entering an era where the “Doctor Frankensteins” who refuse to be constrained by a moral deliberative medical establishment decide to “go rogue” and fire up the electrical laboratories and create “new life” with medical and ethical short cuts, convinced of their crusade by their own internal perverted moral justifications, and the impact to society for the short cuts be damned?
Another report on July 30 noted that
Frontline doctors from across the US held a “White Coat Summit” on Monday in Washington DC to dispel the misinformation and myths surrounding the coronavirus. The doctors are very concerned with the disinformation campaign being played out in the far left American media today. From their website: “If Americans continue to let so-called experts and media personalities make their decisions, the great American experiment of a Constitutional Republic with Representative Democracy, will cease.” Dr. Simone Gold, a board certified emergency physician, spoke this week at the White Coat Summit. After over 18 million views of their conference on Monday Google, YouTube and Facebook removed their videos. On Thursday night Dr. Gold told Tucker Carlson that she was fired from her position after 20 years as an emergency room physician because she appeared at the White Coat Summit this week. Dr. Simone Gold also told Tucker Carlson she has hired respected Attorney Lin Wood to represent her.
Videos from the notorious White Coat Summit of July 27-28, 2020 by America’s Frontline Doctors can still be seen on their website, including Dr. Gold, talks on “Medical Cancel Culture,” “Fear,” “Hydroxychloroquine’s USA Clinical Experience” and “Doctor to Doctor” (featuring “Magic 8-Ball” Stella Immanuel), “Hoaxes in the Covid-19 era” and “Follow the Money.”
Well – the narrative so far was, of course, the mere preamble of the real story I see here. So, where did up to 100 million doses of hydroxychloroquine come from, for what agenda, what happened to them, as does it involve Dr. Gold at all, or even her strong promotion on Facebook of the nation state Israel?
I have no idea.
Just kidding! I wouldn’t have you read this long if I didn’t have any clues. To start our investigation, before we document those details let’s consider this first story by The Times of Israel, from April 2020, which considers the latest scientific data from both the U.S. and Israel regarding the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine for COVID mitigation:
A malaria drug widely touted by US President Donald Trump for treating the new coronavirus and stockpiled by Israel showed no benefit in a large analysis of its use in American veterans hospitals. There were more deaths among those given hydroxychloroquine versus standard care, researchers reported. The nationwide study was not a rigorous experiment. But with 368 patients, it’s the largest look so far at hydroxychloroquine with or without the antibiotic azithromycin for COVID-19…The study was posted on an online site for researchers and has not been reviewed by other scientists. Grants from the National Institutes of Health and the University of Virginia paid for the work. About 28 percent who were given hydroxychloroquine plus usual care died, versus 11% of those getting routine care alone. About 22% of those getting the drug plus azithromycin died too, but the difference between that group and usual care was not considered large enough to rule out other factors that could have affected survival. Hydroxychloroquine made no difference in the need for a breathing machine, either. Researchers did not track side effects, but noted a hint that hydroxychloroquine might have damaged other organs. The drug has long been known to have potentially serious side effects, including altering the heartbeat in a way that could lead to sudden death.
Israel has stockpiled both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine on the assumption that if trials find that it is beneficial in the treatment of COVID-19 this would spark a buying war for the drugs. Speaking to the financial daily Globes last week, Prof. Ronni Gamzu, a former director general of the Health Ministry who now heads the Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, said the hospital had used chloroquine, but had seen no evidence of its efficacy in treating COVID-19. Jacob Moran-Gilad, a member of the Health Ministry’s Epidemic Management Team, told The Times of Israel earlier this month that Israeli doctors are allowed to prescribe hydroxychloroquine to their patients, and some are doing so. But he stressed: “The fact there is a stockpile of the drug does not mean there is official endorsement or encouragement to liberally use this drug.” Moran-Gilad said that the Epidemic Management Team discussed whether to give hospitals any directions regarding hydroxychloroquine, and decided not to. “At the moment there is no official guidance or endorsement by the Health Ministry that it should be used for COVID-19,” he said. “We discussed this in the national management team and we decided not to give guidance as there is no data to support the use of this drug.”
Earlier this month, scientists in Brazil stopped part of a study testing chloroquine after heart rhythm problems developed in one-quarter of people given the higher of two doses being tested. On Tuesday, the NIH issued new treatment guidelines from a panel of experts, saying there was not enough evidence to recommend for or against chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19. But it also advised against using hydroxychloroquine with azithromycin because of the potential side effects. Many doctors have been leery of the drug. At the University of Wisconsin, Madison, “I think we’re all rather underwhelmed” at what’s been seen among the few patients there who’ve tried it, said Dr. Nasia Safdar, medical director of infection control and prevention.
This revelation of hydroxychloroquine’s inadequacy was announced on April 22, 2020. A month prior to that, the Israeli press made another announcement about Israeli’s largest company – a pharmaceutical company – going “all in” on hydroxychloroquine:
The global Israeli company Teva Pharmaceutical Industries is donating more than 6 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets to hospitals across the United States to meet the urgent demand for the medicine as an investigational target to treat COVID-19…“Immediately upon learning of the potential benefit of hydroxychloroquine, Teva began to assess supply and to urgently acquire additional ingredients to make more product while arranging for all of what we had to be distributed immediately,” said Brendan O’Grady, Teva Executive Vice President, North America Commercial. “We are committed to helping to supply as many tablets as possible as demand for this treatment accelerates at no cost.” O’Grady said that additional production of hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets is also being assessed and subsequently ramped up with materials that are being sent to Teva from its ingredient supplier. Teva will ship 6 million tablets through wholesalers to hospitals by March 31, and more than 10 million within a month. The company is also reviewing supply of both hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine globally to determine whether there are additional supply and access opportunities for patients. Teva is a global leader in generic and specialty medicines with a portfolio consisting of over 3,500 products in nearly every therapeutic area. Teva provides more than 10% of the US drug supply, providing American patients with approximately 1 out of 7 prescriptions they take.
Israel’s political lobbyists and advocates wasted no time politicizing the Israeli connection to the supplying of hydroxychloroquine. Three days later (March 25), the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University posted an article entitled, “The Coronoavirus Pandemic: Israel Is America’s Friend in Deed,” stating that
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: When President Donald Trump and other medical professionals touted the decades-old antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a possible means of fighting the coronavirus pandemic, the Israeli generic drug giant Teva (the most popular big pharma stock on Wall Street) immediately announced that it will provide 10 million doses of its hydroxychloroquine drug to US hospitals free of charge. Rep. Rashida Tlaib and her fellow American detractors of Israel who claim that Israel does nothing but take from the US owe Israel an apology.
“We are committed to helping to supply as many tablets as possible as demand for this treatment accelerates, at no cost,” Teva executive vice president Brendan O’Grady said. Teva is the world’s leading generic drug manufacturer, employing 43,000 employees around the globe. In 2018, Teva produced 120 billion tablets, with one in nine generic prescriptions in the US containing the company’s products…Many American detractors of Israel are giving a new airing to the myth that the Jewish state receives the lion’s share of US military aid. The suggestion conjures the demon of an all-powerful Israel lobby that has turned the US Congress into its pawn. Rashida Tlaib and Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, are at the forefront of those detractors. President Donald Trump, along with many others, view Rep. Tlaib and her compatriots within the Democratic Party as antisemites, a perception they bolster by repeating the slander about Israel’s aid relationship with the US. The reality is that the US’s alliance with Israel is based on two key factors: intelligence sharing and ideological unity, according to Michael Koplow, a Middle East analyst at the Israel Policy Forum. The Teva announcement is clear evidence of this ideological unity…Another Israeli drug cited as possibly helpful is remdesivir, an experimental antiviral from Gilead Sciences. Israel and the US coordinate scientific and cultural exchanges and have bilateral economic relations…The top five US imports from Israel are diamonds, pharmaceutical products, semiconductors, medicinal equipment, and telecommunications equipment…The politicians, pundits, and IR scholars who accuse Israel and the Israel lobby of extracting the lion’s share of US military aid from a gullible Congress are either themselves hopelessly gullible or know full well that they are spreading lies. Israel receives a small fraction of the real outlays of military assistance the US indirectly gives its allies and other countries. These experts, if they are in fact experts, should also know that 74% of military aid to Israel was spent on American arms, equipment, and services. Under the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding, that figure will be changed to 100%. The experts simply cite the wrong statistics.
However, by mid-June, Israeli authorities were frustrated that all the free hydroxychloroquine provided to U.S. states and hospitals had gone unused – possibly due to the findings of its ineffectual use for COVID in both the U.S., Israel and elsewhere. By June 15 the news wire the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that
The state of Florida has not distributed most of the 1 million doses of the drug hydroxychloroquine, often used as a drug of last resort to help patients with COVID-19, which were provided free from the Israeli drug maker Teva Pharmaceuticals. The drug arrived in Florida in two shipments in April in a deal that Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said was facilitated by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Politico reported. Only a handful of hospitals have requested access to the hydroxychloroquine stockpile, according to the report. About 20,000 doses of the drug have been distributed to the hospitals, and the state is sitting on the 980,000 others, while patients with lupus, who rely on hydroxychloroquine to stave off organ damage, pain and disability, are having trouble finding the drug and in some cases are being forced to pay triple or to substitute the more expansive brand-name version, Plaquenil, the Fort Myers News-Press reported Saturday. President Donald Trump has publicly called hydroxychloroquine a “game changer” in reducing the effects of the coronavirus and promoted it in his daily briefings and on Twitter. His recent medical report made public by the White House showed that the president had been taking the drug prophylactically. Trump had to get involved in order for Florida to receive the drug since Teva manufactures the drug in India, where officials did not allow shipment to leave the country. DeSantis asked Trump to speak to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who agreed to make the exception for the United States, DeSantis told a news conference in April, according to Politico.
So – Israel and President Trump facilitated Florida Gov. Rick DeSantis, himself a sycophant of Trump and one of his biggest supporters, including his repeated denials of a statewide COVID “problem” in Florida, while it was raging particularly in the southern part of the state, as he insisted keeping the Miami and other beaches open and crowded during the explosion in cases. He, Trump and evidently Israel all saw an opportunity to be had with a publicly-perceived hydroxychloroquine “miracle” that they could display. So – if these millions of doses were provided “free,” then what advantage existed for this for-profit, mega-pharmaceutical global corporation?
A little more can be known about the Israeli pharmaceutical company Teva from a page on their website, called, “Our History“:
Since Teva’s establishment in Jerusalem in 1901, our aim has been to help patients live longer, healthier lives… Today its shares are listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange. In 1976, Assia merged with fellow Israeli pharma companies Zori and Teva to form Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Israel’s largest healthcare company…A year later the company started to expand internationally…In 1987 Teva secured its foothold in the US market through a joint venture with W.R. Grace, which in turn acquired Lemmon in Sellersville, Pennsylvania…During this period of significant growth, the company assumed leadership of the US generics sector and made major acquisitions in North America, Europe and other key markets.
The original press release by Teva, offering an initial ten million doses of hydroxychloroquine to U.S. hospitals, appears to have been first released on March 20. Meanwhile, the White House website features a transcript of a March 19 press conference – the day before – by President Trump, suddenly announcing the mysterious “miracle pill” solution of hydroxychloroquine, which has been surprisingly made available to U.S. health care providers in large quantities. Are we not to believe that these actions were not coordinated behind closed doors beforehand, for their mutual ambitions?
President Trump stated at the press conference that the FDA had approved the drug for COVID treatment, although they evidently had only approved for academic clinical trials. Almost immediately, preemptive hoarding and prescriptions for currently-healthy subjects – even provided over the counter and by medical personnel such as dentists – was creating shortages for sufferers of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis patients who urgently relied upon the drug, while Trump noted in his press conference the justification for his hard push on the FDA to promote it as, “I feel good about it. That’s all it is. Just a feeling. You know, I’m a smart guy.”
By May 25, National Public Radio and other outlets were reporting that “The World Health Organization says it is temporarily halting its clinical trials that use hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients over published concerns that the drug may do more harm than good. The move comes after the medical journal The Lancet reported on Friday that patients getting hydroxychloroquine were dying at higher rates than other coronavirus patients.” They added that “The WHO has 3,500 patients from 17 countries enrolled in what it calls the Solidarity Trial. This is an effort overseen by the WHO to find new treatments for COVID-19. The patients in the trial have been randomly assigned to be treated with hydroxychloroquine, which is a common malaria drug, or three other experimental drugs for treating COVID-19 in various combinations. Only the hydroxychloroquine part of the trial is being put on hold,” and although the large subject study was not the “gold standard” randomized control trial, it drew from a pool of 96,000 patients, and they would continue to monitor a hydroxychloroquine trial still underway in the UK.
By May 27, CBS News reported that
France has banned the use of the controversial anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to treat people with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. The move follows the publication of initial findings from a large-scale study that found the drug offered no benefit to patients, and could in fact be harmful. The Lancet medical journal reported on May 22 that the observational study on nearly 100,000 patients from multiple countries found a higher mortality rate and an increased frequency of irregular heartbeats in patients who were given hydroxychloroquine. France’s health minister responded to the findings the next day by asking the French High Council for Public Health (HCSP) to review the situation, and it recommended halting the use of the drug. The findings also prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to announce Monday the temporary suspension of the malaria drug from a global trial looking at various potential COVID-19 treatments, pending a safety review. At least four people in France have died from complications linked to the side effects of hydroxychloroquine. An early study released in early April in the southern city of Nice found that 43 cases of heart trouble were linked to use of the drug…the French government decided at the end of March to allow the use of the drug in 16 clinical trials, and in the treatment of seriously ill, hospitalized patients. Those trials will now be halted. President Donald Trump has been a staunch defender of the drug and drew criticism from medical experts when he announced recently that he was taking it daily in a bid to prevent contracting COVID-19. Mr. Trump said on Monday that he’d stopped taking the medication. Italy and Belgium, which have also dealt with serious coronavirus outbreaks and had authorized use of hydroxychloroquine in severely ill patients under close hospital supervision, have both told doctors to suspend use of the drug, apart from in clinical trials, in the wake of the Lancet report.
However, it should be said that in early June The Lancet announced it would withdraw its influential study, because the contractor who provided the large data set would not provide it to third-party independent auditors, citing “privacy concerns.” This certainly raises a dark shadow over the impact of the study, although its public announcement and retraction does show that The Lancet itself is not part of some vast, global conspiracy to stymie hydroxychloroquine, other remedies, or the presidency of Trump, but rather subject to the normal review and verification process of the global medical community. To reassure the reader, by June 4 CBS News reported that
Results published Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine show that hydroxychloroquine was no better than placebo pills at preventing illness from the coronavirus. The drug did not seem to cause serious harm, though — about 40% on it had side effects, mostly mild stomach problems…[Lead investigator] Boulware’s study involved 821 people in the United States and Canada living with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 or at high risk of getting it because of their job — doctors, nurses, ambulance workers who had significant exposure to a sick patient while not wearing full protective gear. They were randomly assigned to get either the nutrient folate as a placebo or hydroxychloroquine for five days, starting within four days of their exposure. Neither they nor others involved in the research knew who was getting which pills. After 14 days in the study, 12% on the drug developed COVID-19 symptoms versus 14% in the placebo group, but the difference is so small it could have occurred by chance, Boulware said. “There’s basically no effect. It does not prevent infection,” he said of the drug…Results were no different among a subgroup of participants who were taking zinc or vitamin C, which some people believe might help make hydroxychloroquine more effective or fight the coronavirus.
There are some big caveats: The study enrolled people through the Internet and social media, relying on them to report their own symptoms rather than having them tracked in a formal way by doctors [NOTE: the subjects did not know if they were getting an active ingredient or the placebo, so as to not bias their reporting]. Participants were not all tested for the coronavirus but were diagnosed as COVID-19 cases based on symptoms in many cases. And not all took their medicines as directed. The results “are more provocative than definitive,” and the drug may yet have prevention benefits if tried sooner or in a different way, Dr. Myron Cohen of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill wrote in a commentary in the journal…On Tuesday, the journal Lancet posted an “expression of concern” about a study it published earlier this month of nearly 15,000 COVID-19 patients on the malaria drugs that tied their use to a higher risk of dying in the hospital or developing a heartbeat problem…On Wednesday, the WHO said experts who reviewed safety information decided that its study could resume.
Ultimately, by June 15, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a 15-page reply to the request of Dr. Gary L. Disbrow, Deputy Assistant Secretary and Director, Medical Countermeasure Programs, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), Office of Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR),
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). They write that
This letter is in response to your request, dated today, that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revoke the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for emergency use of oral formulations of chloroquine phosphate (CQ) and hydroxychloroquine sulfate (HCQ) to be distributed from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) issued on March 28, 2020. Like BARDA’s earlier request to FDA to issue the EUA, BARDA’s request to revoke the EUA is part of a collaborative, USG interagency effort to rapidly respond to this continuously evolving public health emergency. Today’s request to revoke is based on new information, including clinical trial data results, that have led BARDA to conclude that this drug may not be effective to treat COVID-19 [Coronavirus Disease 2019] and that the drug’s potential benefits for such use do not outweigh its known and potential risks.
They rescinded the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) because (a) “We now believe that the suggested dosing regimens for CQ and HCQ as detailed in the Fact Sheets are unlikely to produce an antiviral effect.” (b) “Earlier observations of decreased viral shedding with HCQ or CQ treatment have not been consistently replicated and recent data from a randomized controlled trial assessing probability of negative conversion showed no difference between HCQ and standard of care alone.” (c) “Current U.S. treatment guidelines do not recommend the use of CQ or HCQ in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 outside of a clinical trial, and the NIH guidelines now recommend against such use outside of a clinical trial,” and (d) “Recent data from a large randomized controlled trial showed no evidence of benefit for mortality or other outcomes such as hospital length of stay or need for mechanical ventilation of HCQ treatment in hospitalized patients with COVID19.” Their cited data included a pool of 11,000 subjects in the Oxford University RECOVERY studies just concluding.
This “rocky road” is how science works when pressed for quick solutions from politicians and the public, but the slow, measured approach using a wide range of experts will eventually sort out noise apart from true findings, and verifiable solutions, but never on the timescale people want. I experienced this first-hand when I led a national and global team to develop fire fighting chemicals for onboard aviation use to comply with urgent environmental laws and regulations outlawing Halons and other ozone depleting and atmospheric warming chemicals. I and my colleagues were also pressured to find quick solutions, before the data was in and vetted, that did not impose any inconvenience or impact to the end user, and I and we were often blamed ourselves for the restrictions on the use of these chemicals, due to laws and treaties I did not have any role in enacting.
Either we believe the world-class experts who have devoted their lives for decades to provide this critical service to our global community, vetting each other in a urgent collaborative process, or we believe the “easy solutions” we want to hear by the “Association of American Physicians and Surgeons,” and “America’s Frontline Doctors” of the world, and the credibility we have observed from their types, and meanwhile decide that the esteemed scientists of diverse nations of varying political ideologies across the globe are all involved in one big conspiracy in cahoots with all the global media, which seems to be the preferable options for most conservative Christians I know these days, who believe little else from scientists or doctors on other matters as well.
Reflecting back on the company Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, it is interesting to note that the non-profit and corporate tax and other data archivist and watchdog organization Pro Publica documents that Teva had at least four of their staff people transfer to prominent positions in the Department of Health and Human Service, Education and Labor Departments, and Federal Trade Commission (I don’t know how much more significant or extensive are the number of staff connections, nor if this is common in scale for other pharmaceutical and other major corporate staffs).
To better understand the motive Teva might have for such a “generous” donation of hydroxychloroquine, simultaneous with President Trump’s sudden press conference announcement of a “miracle” solution of the same product, we should consider Teva’s history in the U.S. pharmaceutical market and with its government regulators, at least going back to 2017. In February 2017 Reuters reported some VERY important findings that
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (TEVA.TA) was left without a permanent chief executive on Tuesday after Erez Vigodman stepped down, leaving new management to restore confidence in the world’s biggest generic drugmaker after a series of missteps. A string of costly acquisitions, along with delayed drug launches, have sent Teva shares plummeting and led to calls for management and structural changes, including a possible split into separate generic and branded medicine units. Teva, Israel’s largest company, said late on Monday that Vigodman was departing immediately…Teva, which faces pricing pressure in its core generics business and recently lost patent protection on its key branded drug Copaxone for multiple sclerosis, must choose a new CEO…Teva’s bad run continued on Tuesday, when the company said it was being investigated in Israel over the same issues that led to a $519 million U.S. bribery settlement in December over criminal and civil allegations that it bribed overseas officials to gain business. Compounding the challenge for Teva, U.S. President Donald Trump has pledged to crack down on drug prices and a number of shareholders are pushing Teva to split into separate branded and generic companies. Landa said Teva’s recent “fixation on mega-generic acquisitions” had “mortgaged its ability to make substantial investments in speciality drugs.” Teva shares fell around 2 percent in Tel Aviv on Tuesday following Vigodman’s departure, which comes after the head of Teva’s generics business, Siggi Olafsson, left…Teva’s New York-listed shares…tumbled to around 10-year lows last week after a U.S. court found Copaxone patents to be invalid. The drug accounted for almost a fifth of Teva’s revenue last year. Teva now has debt of nearly $36 billion, similar to its market value, making it difficult to raise new equity, Tamir said.
So, we have a company hemorrhaging money after a series of bad corporate decisions, legal findings and bribery charges in Israel and the U.S., and heat from President Trump beforehand on its prices, which led to further financial pressure, while unable to borrow money, costing the heads of the CEO and senior staff.
Back in December 2016, before President Trump had taken office, Kaiser Health News, a part of the health industry-affiliated Kaiser Family Foundation, reported that
The high prices Americans pay for generic drugs may have been cooked up by pharmaceutical salespeople on golf courses, at a New Jersey steakhouse or over martinis at a “Girls Nights Out” in Minnesota. Details emerging from an ongoing investigation show that drug company employees gathered regularly at such swanky locations and conspired to keep prices and profits high, according to interviews and a complaint filed last week in U.S. District Court by Attorneys General in 20 states…The lawsuit hits home for many middle-class families who have struggled in recent years to pay for generic medications while prices for some drugs soared more than 8,000 percent. The price for a decades-old antibiotic called doxycycline, for example, jumped from $20 for a bottle of 500 pills in October 2013 to more than $1,800 in April 2014. That price hike was the result of secret efforts by generic drugmakers to make as much money as possible, the complaint says…The ongoing Attorneys General investigation began in 2014, according to the complaint, and has “uncovered evidence of a broad, well-coordinated and long-running series of schemes.” The companies accused of price fixing include Aurobindo Pharma USA, Citron Pharma, Heritage Pharmaceuticals, Mayne Pharma, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA and Mylan Pharmaceuticals..Spokeswomen for Teva and Mylan denied any wrongdoing.
Generic drugs now account for 80 percent of prescriptions in the U.S., with sales of $74.5 billion in 2015…Medicaid plans spent more than $500 million from June 2013 to June 2014 on generic drugs whose prices more than doubled… In truth, the explanation for soaring prices is “much more straightforward and sinister — collusion among generic drug competitors,” the complaint said…Executives discussed how to divvy up market share to avoiding competing with each other for business, according to the complaint. Companies either declined to bid for certain customers or offered “cover bids” that they knew would be rejected. Companies knew they were breaking the law and took care to have most of these discussions on cell phones or in person, to avoid leaving a paper trail. Employees destroyed evidence from text messages and emails, the complaint said. Heritage and other companies routinely consulted their competitors before selling new medications so that they could avoid competing on prices, the complaint said. The agreement gave the illusion of competition, but kept prices high…Minnesota’s Swanson noted that some information in the complaint has been blacked out at the request of government officials…The investigation has uncovered a hidden side of the generic pharmaceutical industry, said Michael Carrier, a professor at Rutgers Law School who specializes in antitrust law in the drug industry. “It’s a bombshell,” he said.
Well, when the going gets tough, the tough get going…spending more money on PR and lobbying when you’re caught red-handed, if you are part of a major American industry. In April 2017, shortly after President Trump had taken office, the same Kaiser Health News reported that
Eight pharmaceutical companies more than doubled their lobbying spending in the first three months of 2017, when the Affordable Care Act was on the chopping block and high drug prices were clearly in the crosshairs of Congress and President Donald Trump…Industry giant Teva Pharmaceutical Industries spent $2.67 million, up 115 percent from a year ago as several companies embroiled in controversies raised their outlays significantly…Trump has come down hard on drugmakers..He has promised to lower drug prices and increase competition with faster approvals and fewer regulations…Thirty-eight major drugmakers and trade groups spent a total of $50.9 million..They deployed 600 lobbyists in all.
Drugmakers under fire more than doubled their lobbying dollars. Mylan spent $1.45 million during the quarter, up from $610,000 last year. The company’s CEO faced a congressional hearing in the fall when it raised the price of EpiPen to over $600. Marathon Pharmaceuticals spent $230,000, which was $120,000 more than last year. Marathon was criticized in February after setting the price of Emflaza, a steroid to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy, at $89,000 a year. That angered advocates, Congress and patients who had been importing the same drug for as little as $1,000 a year. Teva and Shire also more than doubled their spending. Teva was accused as part of an alleged generic price-fixing scheme in December…Companies that make drugs for rare diseases also more than doubled lobbying dollars.
By the middle of 2019, Israeli company Teva was coming into the forefront of the growing U.S. investigation of widespread generic drug price fixing, in lawsuits and investigations now reaching 44 states. In May 2019 the business site CNBC reported that
U.S. states filed a lawsuit accusing Teva Pharmaceuticals USA of orchestrating a sweeping scheme with 19 other drug companies to inflate drug prices — sometimes by more than 1,000% — and stifle competition for generic drugs, state prosecutors said on Saturday…The 20 drug companies engaged in illegal conspiracies to divide up the market for drugs to avoid competing and, in some cases, conspired to either prevent prices from dropping or to raise them, according to the complaint by 44 U.S. states, filed on Friday in the U.S. District Court in Connecticut. A representative of Teva USA, a unit of Israeli company Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, said it will fight the lawsuit. “The allegations in this new complaint, and in the litigation more generally, are just that — allegations,” it said in a statement. “Teva continues to review the issue internally and has not engaged in any conduct that would lead to civil or criminal liability.” [Sadly, they’re probably right about that.] The 500-page lawsuit accuses the generic drug industry, which mainly sells medicines that are off patent and should be less expensive, of a long history of discreet agreements to ensure that companies that are supposedly competitors each get a “fair share”…“Apparently unsatisfied with the status quo of ‘fair share’ and the mere avoidance of price erosion, Teva and its co-conspirators embarked on one of the most egregious and damaging price-fixing conspiracies in the history of the United States,” the complaint said. With Teva at the center of the conspiracy, the drug companies colluded to significantly raise prices on 86 medicines between July 2013 and January 2015, the complaint said…In some instances, the coordinated price increases were more than 1,000 percent, the lawsuit said…“Prices for hundreds of generic drugs have risen — while some have skyrocketed, without explanation, sparking outrage from politicians, payers and consumers across the country whose costs have doubled, tripled, or even increased 1,000% or more”…The lawsuit filed on Friday is parallel to an action brought in December 2016 by the attorneys general of 45 states and the District of Columbia. That case was later expanded to include more than a dozen drugmakers.
Two days later, CNBC also reported that these investigations soon led to immediate financial peril to the company:
U.S. traded shares of Teva Pharmaceutical plunged more than 16% on Monday after 44 states sued the company, alleging it orchestrated a sweeping scheme with 19 other drugmakers to inflate prices…The states, led Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, claim 20 drug companies, including Teva USA, “systematically” divided up the market for generic drugs to avoid competing with one another…“This is an organized effort to conspire and fix prices — a highly illegal violation of antitrust laws,” Tong said. The lawsuit comes as President Donald Trump and Congress attempt to bring down high prescription drug prices, which accounted for roughly 12% of total health-care spending in the U.S. in 2016. Just last week, the Trump administration announced it would required pharmaceutical companies to disclose the list price of their prescription medicines in television commercials in an effort to “shame” them into lowering consumer costs. In response to the lawsuit, a spokesperson for Teva said “the allegations in this new complaint, and in the litigation more generally, are just that – allegations”…Israel-based Teva is the world’s largest generic drugmaker.
It gets worse. Ten days later – May 29, 2019 – BBC reported that Teva was embroiled into an Oklahoma lawsuit along with Johnson and Johnson for being an addictive drug “pusher” by aggressively pushing opioids onto the public:
Johnson & Johnson, one of the world’s largest drug manufacturers, has gone on trial in a multi-billion dollar lawsuit by the US state of Oklahoma. Prosecutors accuse the firm of deceptively marketing painkillers and downplaying addiction risks, fuelling a so-called “opioid epidemic.” It is the first of 2,000 cases brought by state, local and tribal governments against pharmaceutical firms in the US. On average, 130 Americans die from an opioid overdose every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2017, of the 70,200 people who died from an overdose, 68% involved a prescription or illegal opioid. In its court filing, Oklahoma alleged that Johnson & Johnson was the “kingpin” behind “the worst man-made public health crisis in [the] state’s history,” growing and importing raw materials which other drug-makers used for their own products. In opening statements in the city of Norman on Tuesday, the state said that Johnson & Johnson along with Purdue Pharma – which produces the prescription painkiller OxyContin – and Israel-based Teva Pharmaceuticals had pushed doctors to prescribe more opioids in the 1990s by using misleading marketing…Mike Hunter, Oklahoma’s attorney general, told the court that it was time to hold the companies “responsible for their actions”. “This is the worst man-made public health crisis in our state’s history. To put it bluntly, this crisis is devastating Oklahoma,” he said….Earlier this month, Teva Pharmaceuticals agreed to an $85m (£67m) settlement with Oklahoma over a similar lawsuit which claimed its opioids had contributed to the deaths of thousands of people.
By July 2019, the Israeli news site Globes was reporting that
In the 2016 US presidential campaign, it was Democratic Party candidate Hilary Clinton who aroused concern about restrictions on drug prices in the US. This pushed down the share prices of pharma sector companies on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE), but it is now the election winner, President Donald Trump, who is taking matters a step further by advocating a reference index for drug prices, as is the practice in many European countries. Late last week, Trump ordered US administration officeholders to prepare an order to reduce the prices paid for drugs in the US to the level of prices in countries where they are the cheapest in the world. “Why do other nations like Canada pay less than us,” Trump asked rhetorically…In additional bad news for the pharma sector, Democrats in Congress aiming at transparency in drug prices and lower costs for consumers are likely to support Trump’s measures…People in the US pay double or more for drugs than consumers in other countries. A 2015 Reuters survey of the 20 bestselling prescription drugs in the US found that they were an average of three times as expensive as in the UK, more expensive than in any other European market, six times as expensive as in Brazil, and 16 times as expensive as in India…Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE: TEVA; TASE: TEVA) share price is down 5.75% on the TASE, following a 3% drop on Wall Street yesterday…Trump’s order is a further blow to battered Teva, which is facing a decline in sales of Copaxone, its former flagship drug, and two major lawsuits, involving allegedly fixing the prices of drugs and selling addictive opioids.
Also in July 2019, The Los Angeles Times was also reporting that Teva was also settling a California lawsuit about their illegal practices to keep generic drugs off the market:
Two pharmaceutical companies will pay the state of California a total of nearly $70 million to settle allegations that they violated antitrust laws by making agreements to delay generic drugs from entering the market, according to the California attorney general’s office…Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. illegally maintained a monopoly over sales of narcolepsy drug Provigil by entering “pay-for-delay” agreements to keep a generic version off the market for almost six years, Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra’s office said in a statement Monday. Pay-for-delay agreements — under which the maker of a brand-name drug pays other drugmakers to refrain from producing a generic version after the drug’s patent expires — are not on their face illegal, but they can be used in ways that violate antitrust law. Regulators have said such deals also keep drug prices high. As part of the settlement announced Monday, Teva will pay the state $69 million, Becerra’s office said…The Israeli pharmaceutical firm will also be under an injunction preventing it from entering into pay-for-delay agreements for 10 years. Teva said the $69 million will come out of a settlement fund that was established after it settled a 2015 Federal Trade Commission lawsuit for $1.2 billion. In the settlement agreement announced Monday, Teva denied all of the state’s claims of unlawful conduct and said the agreement was not an admission of liability…Teva said it would pay the state $200,000 for its legal fees as part of this settlement…At the time, the FTC said such agreements cost consumers and health plans $3.5 billion annually. On average, brand-name drugs affected by pay-for-delay deals cost 10 times more than generic versions, according to a 2013 report from consumer advocacy groups CalPIRG and Community Catalyst.”
With these kinds of dollars they are pulling in for these despicable practices, it is clear that these big fines they pay are but a pittance, and the consumers pay needlessly through the nose. It also shows how benevolent these “job creator” corporations espousing “freedom” are as the “saviors” of society, as insinuated by Republican mythology.
Teva and their henchmen in the Big Pharma cartel have found even other devious means of feathering their beds in their attempt to deceive regulators, even to the extent of exploiting tax-free non-profits meant for helping low income people with health needs, to rather promote their products, this time in the domain of Trump-friendly governorship of Florida. In November 2019 Reuters reported that
A Florida-based charity will pay $4 million to resolve claims that it acted as a conduit for companies including Biogen Inc and Novartis AG to pay kickbacks to Medicare patients using their high-priced multiple sclerosis drugs, the U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday. The settlement with the patient assistance charity The Assistance Fund marked the third so far with a foundation linked to an industry-wide probe that has resulted in $850 million in settlements with drugmakers and charities. TAF like the other foundations provide assistance to patients seeking to pay out-of-pocket costs for medications and says that since 2009 it has provided assistance to 78,000 people…Biogen, Novartis and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, which the department said also provided the charity money, did not respond to requests for comment or declined to comment. Drug companies are prohibited from subsidizing co-payments for patients enrolled in the government’s Medicare healthcare program for those aged 65 and older. Companies may donate to non-profits providing co-pay assistance as long as they are independent. But the government has alleged that various drugmakers have used charities like Orlando, Florida-based TAF as means to improperly pay the co-pay obligations of Medicare patients using their drugs, in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute…Co-pays are partly meant to serve as a check on healthcare expenses by exposing patients to some of a medicine’s cost [i.e., a co-pay tries to prevent consumer abuse of an otherwise no-cost option to them that promotes excessive use, at a high price that benefits drug makers, at the cost of the broad American taxpaying public, and de-incentivizing smart consumer choices]. The settlement with TAF centered on payments it received from three MS drug manufacturers, Teva, which sells Copaxone; Biogen, which sells Tysabri and Avonex; and Novartis, which sells Gilenya. The government alleged that TAF engaged in practices that allowed it to coordinate with Teva, Biogen and Novartis from 2011 to 2014 ensure that it used the companies’ money to support patients using their respective MS drugs instead of rival ones. The department said that TAF also solicited and received payments from Teva for the years 2011 to 2015 that correlated with the charity’s spending on patients using Copaxone.
A pharmacy based in Florida was found guilty in August 2020 of serving as a similar conduit for Teva to have special advantages to the consumer. Reuters reported that
A Florida-based specialty pharmacy will pay $3.5 million to resolve allegations it served as a conduit for a Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd subsidiary to pay kickbacks to Medicare patients, the U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday. The settlement with Advanced Care Scripts Inc was the latest to result from an industry-wide U.S. probe of drugmakers’ financial support of patient assistance charities that has resulted in nearly $921 million in settlements. Representatives for Teva and ACS did not respond to requests for comment. Teva has said it has been cooperating with the investigation since first receiving a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston in 2017…According to the government, until 2015, ACS served as a vendor for Teva Neuroscience Inc and provided, among other things, benefits investigation services to patients who had been prescribed its multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone. As part of the settlement, ACS acknowledged it relayed data to Teva from two foundations that helped cover the co-pay obligations for Medicare patients using Copaxone, so the drugmaker could correlate the payments it made to the charities. Those charities were the Chronic Disease Fund, now known as Good Days, and the Assistance Fund. They previously resolved similar allegations with the government for $2 million and $4 million, respectively.
These recent revelations led the consumer watchdog group Restore Public Trust to denounce the connections these companies had to Trump administration officials, writing that “As people across the country read this latest story of corruption and malfeasance, they should remember that Big Pharma has infiltrated the Trump administration and is doing everything possible to influence policy and protect its own profits. In fact, top ranking officials in the administration have close connections to the very companies accused of paying kickbacks in Florida — which is just the latest reminder that Trump and Alex Azar are breaking their promises and putting the pharmaceutical industry ahead of patients and families,” and noted that Kate O’Scannlain, Department of Labor solicitor, represented Teva Pharmaceuticals of North America as a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP in 2017, Robert Charrow, general counsel at HHS, previously provided legal services for Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Inc., and Christine S. Wilson, federal trade commissioner, served as representation for Teva Pharmaceuticals North America as a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP in 2016.
The “Florida connection,” and its coalition of a Trump sycophant Gov. Ron DeSantis (who was recklessly negligent in closing beaches and promoting mask and other restrictions that led to runaway COVID infections in Florida as a local disaster, as with many red-state governors) in a state with a large Israel-friendly population, is noted because of reports such as one from March 30, 2020, in which it was reported that
In a media availability Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis confirmed that Israeli-sourced hydroxychloroquine is already being used in South Florida hospitals. The hope is that hydroxychloroquine, approved for treatment of arthritis, lupus, and malaria, works off label, as a “right to try” medicine for those without other medical recourse. The Governor said Saturday the drug would be sent to hot spots for COVID-19, including Dade, Broward, Hillsborough and Orange counties…“I’m not a doctor. I’m not telling anyone to take it or not to take it,” DeSantis added. “This is just something that doctors may have at their disposal.” The Times of Israel reports that the initial donation to American hospitals will be 6 million pills. “We are committed to helping to supply as many tablets as possible as demand for this treatment accelerates at no cost,” said Brendan O’Grady, Teva executive vice president, North America Commercial. “Immediately upon learning of the potential benefit of hydroxychloroquine,” O’Grady said Teva “began to assess supply and to urgently acquire additional ingredients to make more product while arranging for all of what we had to be distributed immediately.” DeSantis credited U.S. Ambassador David Friedman for helping to source the medicine from Teva Pharmaceuticals in Israel. For DeSantis, the coronavirus crisis brought into play a relationship prized by the Governor, prioritized in 2019 with an Enterprise Florida trade mission to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Friedman, as the Tallahassee Democrat reported, said “Israel has no greater friend in all the 50 governor’s mansions than Ron DeSantis.” The venue was the Ambassador’s Residence in Tel Aviv, where Gov. DeSantis was guest of honor at a dinner where top-shelf wine and food was served up, a veritable banquet feast. The event was a capstone of a week in Israel, where DeSantis and Florida officials signed memoranda of understanding on issues ranging from academic partnerships to collaborations in space and emergency management. Beyond the hydroxychloroquine haul, some good news on the Israel front on testing also. DeSantis also divulged Saturday that DEM head Jared Moskowitz sourced 2,000 tests from an Israeli company, and those tests are headed to South Florida and Duval County.
It is starting to become more clear what is likely “up” during this curious “hydroxychlroquine” phenomenon; (a) Israeli company Teva is on the ropes financially due to widespread fraud, graft and huge financial penalties and settlements waged by U.S. federal and state governments as a result, and a departed CEO and troubled leadership, (b) a difficult initial relationship with President Trump, who publicly states that he wants to lower the drug costs that Teva is using every crooked and illegal means to keep elevated, or secure other advantages, (c) it exploits the special relationship with the Trump brown-noser Governor DeSantis, with his own motive for needing a “quick fix” to save his political career as well as President Trump, (d) the potential with a “transactional” President Trump who might “look the other way” as to their graft and crimes if they “scratch his back” with a “rabbit out of the hat” for COVID, which they can supply with a dirt-cheap drug of unproven provenance to publicly make President Trump look good, and (e) exploiting a Israeli government loyalist (maybe even higher than our own nation) from Trump-appointed U.S. Ambassador David Friedman -an Orthodox Jew and son of a rabbi who represented the Trump Organization in bankruptcy lawsuits over his casinos from shafted co-investors and other victims, himself funding illegal Israeli settlements in occupied territories (with extra funding from Jared Kushner’s organization) and operating an extremist Israeli media outlet Arutz 7 where he is a columnist, to exploit this confluence of events (or “perfect storm”) to advance the cause and PR efforts of Israel, save the largest company in Israel, and save Governor DeSantis and President Trump’s political careers from disaster – all via the enigmatic “hydroxychloroquine.”
Politico adds some further details of Desantis’ promotion of hydroxychloroquine in a report a week later (April 7):
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday used his coronavirus briefing to give a choreographed, live-streamed shout-out to hydroxychloroquine, a drug President Donald Trump has touted as a potential miracle cure for Covid-19. During the briefing, DeSantis took credit for loosening shipments of the drug from India and sought testimonials on the drug from doctors and a patient. “One of the number-one questions we’ve been getting in the state of Florida is what treatments are available,” DeSantis said. “One of the things that physicians have been using is this hydroxychloroquine, usually, combined with with Z-Pack.” The briefing included a videostreamed conversation between DeSantis and Dr. Sunil Kumar, a critical care and pulmonary physician at Broward Health. Kumar said the drug has helped patients fight the virus. The Food and Drug Administration… lifted years-old restrictions on India-based Ipca Laboratories, a manufacturer of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, in a bid to get more of the drugs into the U.S. at Trump’s urging. “As this thing was first discussed in Washington, and the FDA made their decision on it, you know, I reached out to physicians and just, you know, asked them, ‘hey, what’s the deal with this?'” DeSantis said…DeSantis then played video of a patient who gave a testimonial.
Israeli drugmaker Teva Pharmaceuticals provided Florida with a batch of hydroxychloroquine last month, and a second shipment was sent Monday. Teva manufactures hydroxychloroquine in India, where government officials forbade shipments from leaving the country. DeSantis said he had a hand in getting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow more of the drug to be shipped to the U.S. “I spoke to President Trump, and then he spoke to Prime Minister Modi, and Modi has made an exception for the United States,” DeSantis said. “Teva is bringing more of this into the United States, they have sent a second shipment already to a Florida hospital and shipped yesterday.” Amneal Pharmaceuticals also is sending a million doses of the experimental drug to Tallahassee, which are supposed to arrive Wednesday, the governor told reporters Tuesday. DeSantis isn’t the only public figure to take up Trump’s championship of hydroxychloroquine. Last month, Twitter asked Fox News host Laura Ingraham to delete a post touting the efficacy of the drug, saying it ran afoul of the company’s rules against misleading health information. The company also called out Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani for a post that made erroneous statements about hydroxychloroquine, calling it “100% effective” in treating Covid-19.
By the time President Trump waded into the matter, like a sudden “bull in a china shop,” other companies also “smelled blood in the water” and started to look into how to get a piece of the action of the “messiah drug” hydroxychloroquine, as in April 6, 2020 The New York Times reported:
President Trump made a rare appearance in the Situation Room on Sunday as his pandemic task force was meeting, determined to talk about the anti-malaria medicine that he has aggressively promoted lately as a treatment for the coronavirus. Once again, according to a person briefed on the session, the experts warned against overselling a drug yet to be proved a safe remedy, particularly for heart patients. “Yes, the heart stuff,” Mr. Trump acknowledged. Then he headed out to the cameras to promote it anyway. “So what do I know?” he conceded to reporters at his daily briefing. “I’m not a doctor. But I have common sense.” Day after day, the salesman turned president has encouraged coronavirus patients to try hydroxychloroquine with all of the enthusiasm of a real estate developer. The passing reference he makes to the possible dangers is usually overwhelmed by the full-throated endorsement. “What do you have to lose?” he asked five times on Sunday. Bolstered by his trade adviser, a television doctor, Larry Ellison of Oracle and Rudolph W. Giuliani, a former New York mayor, Mr. Trump has seized on the drug as a miracle cure for the virus…the president’s assertiveness in pressing the case over the advice of advisers like Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease specialist, has driven a wedge inside his coronavirus task force and has raised questions about his motives.
If hydroxychloroquine becomes an accepted treatment, several pharmaceutical companies stand to profit, including shareholders and senior executives with connections to the president. Mr. Trump himself has a small personal financial interest in Sanofi, the French drugmaker that makes Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine…The professional organization that published a positive French study cited by Mr. Trump’s allies changed its mind in recent days. The International Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy said, “The article does not meet the society’s expected standard.” Some hospitals in Sweden stopped providing hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus after reports of adverse side effects, according to Swedish news media.
Mr. Trump first expressed interest in hydroxychloroquine a few weeks ago, telling associates that Mr. Ellison, a billionaire and a founder of Oracle, had discussed it with him. At the time, Dr. Mehmet Oz, the host of television’s “The Doctor Oz Show,” was in touch with Mr. Trump’s advisers about expediting approval to use the drug for the coronavirus. Mr. Giuliani has urged Mr. Trump to embrace the drug, based in part on the advice of Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, a self-described simple country doctor who has become a hit on conservative media after administering a cocktail of hydroxychloroquine, the antibiotic azithromycin and zinc sulfate. In an interview on Monday, Mr. Giuliani denied any financial stake and said he spoke with Mr. Trump only after the president had already promoted the drug publicly. Mr. Giuliani said he turned to the issue after researching former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in Ukraine.
Mr. Trump said the federal government would distribute 29 million doses and that he had called Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India requesting more. Dr. Fauci made his concern clear last week. “I think we’ve got to be careful that we don’t make that majestic leap to assume that this is a knockout drug,” he said on Friday on Fox News. “We still need to do the kinds of studies that definitively prove whether any intervention, not just this one, any intervention is truly safe and effective.” The same day, Laura Ingraham, a Fox host, visited Mr. Trump at the White House with two doctors who had been on her program promoting hydroxychloroquine, one of whom made a presentation on its virtues, according to an official, confirming a Washington Post report. The next day, Peter Navarro, the president’s trade adviser, who has been assigned to expedite production of medical equipment and become an advocate of the drug, upbraided Dr. Fauci at a White House task force meeting, according to people informed about the discussion. Mr. Navarro arrived at the meeting armed with a thick sheaf of papers recounting research. When the issue was raised, according to a person informed about the meeting, confirming a report by Axios, Mr. Navarro picked it up off a chair, dropped it on the table and started handing out copies. Mr. Navarro, who earned a doctorate in economics from Harvard, defended his position on Monday despite his lack of medical credentials. “Doctors disagree about things all the time. My qualifications in terms of looking at the science is that I’m a social scientist,” he said on CNN. “I have a Ph.D. And I understand how to read statistical studies, whether it’s in medicine, the law, economics or whatever.” Mr. Trump made clear on Sunday whose side he took in Mr. Navarro’s confrontation with Dr. Fauci. At his briefing after the meeting, he said it was wrong to wait for the kind of study Dr. Fauci wanted. “We don’t have time,” the president said.
Some associates of Mr. Trump’s have financial interests in the issue…Another investor in both Sanofi and Mylan, another pharmaceutical firm, is Invesco, the fund previously run by Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary. As of last year, Mr. Trump reported that his three family trusts each had investments in a Dodge & Cox mutual fund, whose largest holding was in Sanofi. Ashleigh Koss, a Sanofi spokeswoman, said the company no longer sells or distributes Plaquenil in the United States, although it does sell it internationally. Several generic drugmakers are gearing up to produce hydroxychloroquine pills, including Amneal Pharmaceuticals, whose co-founder Chirag Patel is a member of Trump National Golf Course Bedminster in New Jersey and has golfed with Mr. Trump at least twice since he became president, according to a person who saw them…Amneal announced last month that it would increase production of the drug and donate millions of pills to New York and other states. Other generic drugmakers are ramping up production, including Mylan and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Roberto Mignone, a Teva board member, reached out to the team of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, through Nitin Saigal, who used to work for Mr. Mignone and is a friend of Mr. Kushner’s, according to people informed about the discussions. Mr. Kushner’s team referred him to the White House task force and Mr. Mignone asked for help getting India to ease export restrictions, which have since been relaxed, allowing Teva to bring more pills into the United States. Mr. Mignone, who is also a vice chairman of NYU Langone Health, which is running a clinical study of hydroxychloroquine, confirmed on Monday that he has spoken with the administration about getting more medicine into the country. Dr. Daniel H. Sterman, the critical care director at NYU Langone Health, said doctors there are using hydroxychloroquine, but data about its effectiveness remained “weak and unsubstantiated” pending the study.
Evidently more organizations then tried to get in on the act of promoting the drug. On the same day (April 6), another source reported that
On Sunday, Trump reiterated his support for using it to treat coronavirus patients. “What do you have to lose?,” Trump asked, repeating his comments from Saturday. Trump also prevented Dr. Fauci from fielding a question on the use of hydroxychloroquine. It’s unclear why Trump has been such a proponent of hydroxychloroquine, but one answer may lie with the millions of dollars in political support he has received from the founder of a pharmaceutical industry-funded group that has been pushing him to make the drug available. On March 26, Job Creators Network, a conservative dark money nonprofit, launched a petition, a series of Facebook ads, and a blast text message campaign calling on Trump to “cut the red tape” and immediately make hydroxychloroquine available to treat patients. “There is clear and ever-mounting evidence that the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine can significantly help patients who contract coronavirus,” the petition states, despite the lack of rigorous clinical testing.
The Job Creators Network was founded in 2011 by billionaire Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus, a major GOP donor who spent more than $7 million through outside groups to help elect Trump in 2016. Marcus has said that he plans to spend part of his fortune to help re-elect Trump in 2020. Job Creators Network has been funded by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), a drug industry trade that counts among its members leading hydroxychloroquine makers Novartis, Teva Pharmaceuticals, and Bayer. According to tax documents, PhRMA donated $500,000 to Job Creators Network in 2017. Novartis, Teva, and Bayer have all committed to providing millions of doses of hydroxychloroquine for clinical testing, and the companies potentially stand to profit if the drug becomes adopted as a common coronavirus treatment…Job Creator Network’s hydroxychloroquine campaign has been run in partnership with a nonprofit called Physicians for Reform, which works with FreedomWorks to promote deregulatory health care policies. FreedomWorks, a conservative advocacy group that was founded by the Koch brothers, also receives money from PhRMA. According to tax documents PhRMA gave $100,000 to FreedomWorks in 2018.
The old business trick of Schick razor company was to give away the razors, to sell the blades; in the case of Teva, by April 23 reports announced that Teva could not keep up with the demand for the antibiotic azithromycin, which it manufactured and touted as the “tandem” part of the regimen of the use of its “headliner” hydrochloroquine, even as the Veterans Administration was finding with its patients that they had no better prognosis taking hydroxychloroquine, with or without azithromycin.
Within just a few weeks, Teva was “feeling its oats,” as my parents’ generation used to say, and basically “showing its hand” it was dealing with the hydroxychloroquine gambit, and its motives, in parlaying its role as potential savior of the world to turn away from its culpability in its recent graft and crimes with American and other governments, as reported by The New York Times:
In the coming days, the Justice Department will make an important decision: whether to file criminal charges against one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies for allegedly colluding with rivals to inflate the prices of widely used drugs. The company, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, is betting that in the middle of a deadly pandemic, the Trump administration won’t dare to come down hard on the largest supplier of generic drugs in the United States. It is a high-stakes gamble that could affect millions of Americans who rely on Teva’s dozens of inexpensive generic drugs, as well as its brand-name products like Copaxone, for multiple sclerosis, and Ajovy, for migraines. Teva officials say criminal charges could cripple the Israeli company and potentially leave it unable to sell drugs to federal programs like Medicare. For years, the Justice Department and state prosecutors have been investigating what they describe as a conspiracy by pharmaceutical companies to increase the prices of popular drugs. The department has already extracted guilty pleas and $224 million in penalties from four other drug companies.
Lawyers for Teva, which prosecutors believe was deeply involved in the conspiracy, until recently had been holding settlement negotiations with officials in the Justice Department’s antitrust division. But in April, the company all but walked away from the talks, essentially daring the Trump administration to file charges, according to people on both sides of the discussions. Teva officials have said that the company did nothing wrong and that they plan to vigorously defend themselves…Teva executives and board members believe that one reason the Trump administration will back down is to avoid the impression that it is harming a company that is helping the United States fight the coronavirus. A week or two before Teva’s lawyers pulled out of the settlement talks, a board member, Roberto Mignone, reached out to the White House to discuss the company’s efforts to provide drugs that might help treat the coronavirus…It had already donated millions of hydroxychloroquine pills to American hospitals.
On March 24, Mr. Mignone emailed a former college roommate of Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. He wrote that Teva wanted the White House to help get the company’s hydroxychloroquine supplies out of India and to permit Teva to coordinate with rival drug companies to make and distribute the drugs. In an ensuing discussion with officials on the White House’s coronavirus task force, Teva positioned itself as a valuable partner in the manufacturing and distribution of potential medical treatments for the coronavirus, according to people familiar with the discussions, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly about them…Teva officials said there was no connection between the White House conversation and the yearslong antitrust investigation. [wink]
But, said Robert Field, a professor of law and health policy at Drexel University, “it’s hard to believe that Teva does not have that in mind and does not see some kind of absolution in producing a drug that might help us come out of a national nightmare while they are facing quite serious criminal charges.” Ronny Gal, a research analyst who follows the generic drug industry at the brokerage Bernstein, said Teva and other generic companies had seen working with the Trump administration as an opportunity not because more sales of hydroxychloroquine would be profitable — pills cost pennies — but because “they want to be viewed as a partner.” “It’s your chance, at a relatively low cost, to have a very large P.R. campaign,” he added. Teva had its conversation with the White House just as the company’s officials were reconsidering their settlement negotiations with the Justice Department, which along with other government bodies has for years had Teva in its cross hairs.
The investigation centers on allegations that Teva and a number of rivals illegally worked together to increase prices for widely used generic drugs like pravastatin, which is used to treat high cholesterol. Congressional investigators have found that Teva dominated the market for some of the drugs whose prices inexplicably rose and remained high. And nearly every state attorney general and the Justice Department’s antitrust division have identified Teva as a leading player in the alleged price-fixing conspiracy…they also feared an indictment, which would be likely to crush the company’s stock price. A criminal conviction would bar Teva from selling drugs to federal health care programs for at least five years. Avoiding such an outcome was a top priority for Teva, and a settlement seemed close at hand this spring, according to the people on both sides of the negotiations. The Justice Department was inking settlements with other players in the alleged price-fixing conspiracy. In March, the government announced a deal with the Novartis subsidiary Sandoz, another major generic drugmaker. Sandoz admitted to criminal charges and agreed to pay a $195 million fine, the largest ever in a U.S. antitrust case. Last week, another company, Apotex, agreed to a $24 million settlement. In mid-April, lawyers for Teva told officials in the antitrust division that they didn’t see a point in continuing with settlement negotiations based on their current trajectory, according to two people involved in the company’s internal discussions. At a board meeting last week, Teva’s directors, lawyers and executives decided to stick with their legal strategy. With the statute of limitations on the case expiring soon, they doubted that the department would dare to charge the company.
Because Teva makes 10 percent of oral generic drugs prescribed in the United States, Mr. Gal said, it has significant leverage in negotiating with the federal government, especially during the pandemic, when the supply of some drugs has been strained. The company has “a level of protection, where the U.S. certainly does not want the company to go bankrupt,” he said. Justice Department officials haven’t given up hope that settlement talks might resume before the statute of limitation expires in the next two weeks, at which point the government needs to decide whether to charge Teva or let the company walk. A Justice Department lawyer, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about an active investigation, said that while prosecutors were wary of seriously harming a major drug company in the heat of a pandemic, they were also worried about giving a company a pass for illegal behavior simply because of a national emergency.
The next day (May 16), the Times of Israel reported that
Israel’s Teva Pharmaceuticals is said to have essentially “walked away” from settlement talks with the US Justice Department’s antitrust division in a high-profile lawsuit alleging a price-fixing effort among drug manufacturers including Teva. The company is reportedly betting that the White House will not pursue charges given’s Teva help in the fight against COVID-19, specifically with an anti-malaria pharmaceutical drug touted by US President Donald Trump himself as a “game-changer.” Teva was named last year in an antitrust lawsuit brought by over 40 US states alleging a price-fixing conspiracy among drug manufacturers, with the Israeli company said to have raised the costs of some medications by over 1,000 percent. The suit came after a years-long investigation.
The lawsuit has worried the company. The firm, a leader in the generic drug market, has been grappling with declining prices for generic drugs, its core business, and the entry of copycat generic versions to its branded Copaxone drug for multiple sclerosis. The firm has also struggled to cut costs by closing manufacturing facilities and cutting its workforce globally in order to repay a massive $29 billion debt it accumulated due to a series of missteps, which saw it pay a high price for acquisitions that went sour. Approximately a week beforehand, a Teva board member named Roberto Mignone, reached out to the White House to discuss the company’s efforts to provide drugs that might help treat the coronavirus…In an email in late March to a former college roommate of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Mignone said Teva wanted to help the government with supplies for the drug and in an ensuing discussion positioned Teva “as a valuable partner in the manufacturing and distribution of potential medical treatments for the coronavirus,” according to the report which cited people familiar with the discussions. The lawsuit put Teva at the center of the investigation. During a 19-month period from 2013 to 2015, Teva is said to have significantly raised prices on around 112 generic drugs and colluded on at least 86 other drugs, the states said in the suit, according to the report. Some of the increases were more than 1,000%. The Justice Department, meanwhile, has reached settlement deals with four other drug makers and some $224 million in penalties so far.
When this “statute of limitations” date came and went, public interest groups like Accountable.us wanted to know what happened to the Justice Department proceedings. They write:
Teva cozied up to Trump with hydroxychloroquine donation after he touted unproven COVID-19 drug as “game changer,” walked away from DOJ talks “daring the Trump administration to file charges”…DOJ had May 31st deadline to act….has not released an update since then.
Today, Patients Over Pharma sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr calling on him to release details about the status of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigation into Teva Pharmaceuticals. Specifically, the letter seeks information regarding whether the long-running investigation has been influenced by Teva’s lobbying, close ties to the Administration, or donations of hydroxychloroquine immediately following President Trump’s endorsement of the anti-malarial drug as a COVID-19 treatment. This letter follows reporting that Teva “all but walked away” from settlement talks with the DOJ “essentially daring the Trump administration to file charges” against a company that appeared to be supporting President Trump’s COVID-19 response efforts, as well as reporting that the DOJ had a May 31st deadline to decide whether to bring charges against Teva, drop the charges, or reach an agreement with the company to extend the statute of limitations – which passed without any information released on the status of the investigation. We are concerned about the lack of transparency from the DOJ since the recent passage of a key statute of limitations deadline as well as the possibility that Teva’s attempts to curry favor with President Trump has impacted this investigation and could represent another example of DOJ decisions being influenced by political pressure…Last week it was reported that “Florida is sitting on more than 980,000 unused doses of hydroxychloroquine…provided free-of-charge from…Teva Pharmaceuticals.”
In their letter to Attorney General Barr, they write:
We are concerned about the lack of transparency from the DOJ since the recent passage of a key statute of limitations deadline as well as the possibility that Teva’s attempts to curry favor with President Trump has impacted this investigation and could represent another example of DOJ decisions being influenced by political pressure…On March 23, 2020, according to a whistleblower complaint, the General Counsel of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Bob Charrow, passed down an “urgent directive” from the White House to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) “to drop everything” to make donated hydroxychloroquine available to the public via an Investigational New Drug status that would have been even more permissive than emergency use authorization. Charrow joined the administration from Greenberg Traurig, and per his financial disclosure, his clients included Teva Pharmaceuticals. The whistleblower, Dr. Bright, “opposed the broad use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as lacking scientific merit, even though the Administration promoted it as a panacea”…It was further reported that “Teva executives and board members believe that one reason the Trump administration will back down is to avoid the impression that it is harming a company that is helping the United States fight the coronavirus.” It was subsequently reported that the DOJ had until May 31st to decide whether to bring charges against Teva and seek an indictment, drop the charges, or reach an agreement with the company to extend the statute of limitations. But no additional information has been released since that reported deadline came and went…It was also recently reported that “Florida is sitting on more than 980,000 unused doses of hydroxychloroquine, a drug President Donald Trump touted as a ‘game changer’ in the fight against the coronavirus…few hospitals have requested the drug, which was provided free-of-charge from…Teva Pharmaceuticals.
They close with the following questions to Attorney general Barr:
(a) What is the current status of the DOJ investigation into price fixing by Teva Pharmaceuticals? (b) If there was an agreement reached between DOJ and Teva to extend the statute of limitations, will the details of that agreement be released, including information on the new deadline as well as who from DOJ was involved in the negotiations with Teva? (c) What role, if any, did DOJ leadership, the White House, or other political appointees play in any negotiations with Teva or internal DOJ decisions regarding the price fixing case? (d) What role, if any, did Teva’s donations of hydroxychloroquine play in the price fixing investigation, negotiations between DOJ and Teva, or any DOJ decisions regarding the May 31st statute of limitations deadline?
Well, Teva has been held accountable by the Feds at least to some limited degree. On August 27, the U.S. Dept. of Justice website wrote that
Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. (Teva) has been charged with conspiring to fix prices, rig bids, and allocate customers for generic drugs, the Department of Justice announced today. According to a superseding indictment filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the company participated in three conspiracies from at least as early as May 2013 until at least in or around Dec. 2015…Count one charges Teva for its role in a conspiracy that included Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Inc., USA (Glenmark), Apotex Corp. (Apotex), and others. On May 7, Apotex admitted to its role in this conspiracy and agreed to pay a $24.1 million penalty…According to the charge, Teva, Glenmark, Apotex, and unnamed co-conspirators agreed to increase prices for pravastatin and other generic drugs. Pravastatin is a commonly prescribed cholesterol medication that lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Count two charges Teva for its role in a conspiracy with Taro Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc. (Taro U.S.A.), its former executive Ara Aprahamian, and others. On July 23, Taro U.S.A. admitted to its role in this conspiracy and agreed to pay a $205.7 million penalty to resolve that charge as well as its role in a separate antitrust conspiracy. Aprahamian was indicted in February 2020 for his role in the conspiracy with Teva, among other charges, and is awaiting trial. According to the charge, Teva and its co-conspirators agreed to increase prices, rig bids, and allocate customers for generic drugs including, but not limited to, drugs used to treat and manage arthritis, seizures, pain, skin conditions, and blood clots.
Count three charges Teva for its role in a conspiracy with Sandoz Inc. and others. In March 2020, Sandoz admitted to its role in this conspiracy, as well as in conspiracies with other generic drug manufacturers, and agreed to pay a $195 million penalty. According to the charge, Teva and its co-conspirators agreed to increase prices, rig bids, and allocate customers for generic drugs including, but not limited to, drugs used to treat brain cancer, cystic fibrosis, arthritis, and hypertension.
Teva is the seventh company to be charged for its participation in conspiracies to fix prices, rig bids, and allocate customers for generic drugs…Four executives have also been charged; three have entered guilty pleas, and one is awaiting trial…Each of the charged offenses carry a statutory maximum penalty of $100 million for companies.
Donald Trump has operated his campaigns and presidency like he has his business operations – he “sells” an inspirational, utopian idea, built on fanciful imagination, and when the story comes apart as built on fraud, he quickly moves on to another sales “pitch,” and his handling of the COVID crisis has been no different. When the doubts and contradictory information about hydroxychloroquine began to pile up and could not be swept under the rug or diverted, Trump quickly moved on to another “messianic” solution to COVID to rescue the nation and world before the election, without explaining all the contradictions and corruption connected to his last “game changer.” This time, Trump relied upon a similar huckster of dubious background, but a darling on national TV with a lucrative sales pitch, and a darling with evangelicals – this generation’s “Ronco” and “KTel” TV pitchman, but with controversial political and other public activities, the “My Pillow” tycoon Mike Lindell, with his “solution” (as a non-medical (or non-trained in any respect) person) for the medical global scientific challenge of COVID.
I think Lindell, whose claim to fame was offering a firm pillow, and just selling only it (although he recently offers some associated bedding products), saw a kindred spirit in the salesman Trump, and got on board with his campaign before the election, and was subsequently invited to the presidential inauguration. A local Minnesota newspaper reported on Lindell’s inauguration experience in the following way, in an article entitled, “MyPillow’s Mike Lindell was the hot stud ladies man at Trump inauguration”:
…he’s going to have to stop running away with the hearts of all the conserva-gals who turned up for Donald Trump’s inauguration. Last week we brought you the story that Lindell, CEO of the oft-crticized-lately MyPillow empire out of suburban Chaska, might run for governor of Minnesota in 2018. In a subsequent interview with the Star Tribune, Lindell said no, he isn’t running for governor… unless God asks him to. Lindell was apparently singled out and summoned to meet with Trump in early 2016, so the Republican nominee could learn more about the magic behind these 100 percent American-made sleep rectangles. Lindell tells the Business Journal that during this meeting, Melania asked him to send them a couple MyPillows to check out. Lindell gleefully reports the Trumps received the pillows, and he got a “personal email” from Donald saying “he and his wife really liked MyPillow”…In return for his gift — well, that, plus the $2,700 donation to the campaign — Trump invited Lindell to his inauguration in Washington, D.C. last week. More important, Trump gave Lindell… some little pin with the date of the inauguration on it.
He also recruited Lindell to do, uh, something, though Lindell had trouble explaining it to WCCO’s Esme Murphy on Sunday. “It was on Tuesday that it was delivered to me, and I was so humbled. When [Trump] and I had met we had talked about what I’m going to be doing for the inner cities, with private funds, and everything that he believes in, and that I believe in, with helping the inner cities, and helping the economy. And to see it all come to fruition now, I just hope people give him a chance, because it’s going to be amazing. And when I got this from him, I was just, very humbled.”
This is all prelude to the most remarkable Mike Lindell fact of the week, which comes to us via the New York Post‘s Page Six gossip trough. Take it away, Page Six: The divorced former crack addict-turned-strictly sober millionaire was swarmed at the Empire State Inaugural Kick-Off. While big names including Newt Gingrich and Jon Voight attended, women flocked to Lindell, a divorced father of four. He told Page Six, “A lot of people recognize me from the MyPillow ads, and they often stop and ask for pictures. It’s a blessing,” as a group of attractive blond women approached.
Six months after Trump took office, he was making pillow maker/infomercial star Lindell as a top-tier manufacturer guest alongside other titans of American industry at a White House forum:
As part of Made in America week, President Donald Trump is inviting American manufacturers to the White House. On Wednesday, Minnesota’s inventor of MyPillow, Mike Lindell, joined a small group of business leaders to meet with the president. They talked about ways to bring jobs back to the U.S. “And I’m very proud that every part, even the cotton is grown in the USA,” Lindell said at the meeting, while sitting next to President Trump. Congressman Erik Paulsen admitted to sleeping on a MyPillow at the meeting.
In another press release on the event, they write:
Attendees also included Vice President Pence, Labor Secretary Acosta and several members of Congress. “It is obvious that President Trump cares deeply for manufacturers and their employees,” said Lindell, who was seated immediately on his right…”I am proud to share that mission with Mr. Trump,” Lindell added. “I felt the overwhelming presence of God when I visited the White House – from the president and everyone on his staff.” Lindell first met with Trump in mid-August during the presidential campaign to discuss keeping manufacturing at home and reviving America’s cities. During a private meeting at Trump Tower, Lindell and Trump agreed this renewal begins in our inner cities and with blue-collar American workers.
For many readers who might know otherwise, in September 2017 the business media source CNBC published a belated mini-biography on Lindell and his background:
Mike Lindell says there aren’t many crack addicts who’ve become successful, but he’s one of them…The self-made multimillionaire and infomercial superstar created the MyPillow empire from scratch in 2004. He did it while addicted to drugs…He’s been clean and sober for over eight years…Then he tried to make money as a professional card counter in Las Vegas. It didn’t always go well…“They came around the table and picked me up and literally threw me through the front door.” Lindell’s other zany business ventures included trying to raise pigs. That went south when the pigs broke out of the pen he had set up in a residential area. Then “the hog market collapsed and I lost everything,” he says. That was followed by a lunch wagon business he started after hearing how successful they were in California…Eventually, though, Lindell started working as a bartender, and then buying a bar. “Probably wasn’t a real good idea because I was an addict at the time, a pretty hard-core cocaine addict.”
In 2004 the idea for MyPillow, a pillow that would hold its shape, came to him in a dream. “I got up in the middle of the night — it was about 2 in the morning — and I had ‘My Pillow’ written everywhere in the kitchen and all over the house”…Lindell dove in to the project, convinced the dream came from God…The pillow project kept Lindell’s cocaine addiction at bay, but it never went away entirely. “And then I got into crack cocaine,” he admits. During this time, Lindell’s marriage broke up, he lost his house, and he almost lost his business. In March 2008, Lindell said, he was awake for at least two weeks doing crack. He tells an incredible story about his dealer, Lee, who put the word out on the street that no one was to sell Lindell any more drugs until he got some sleep. Even after all that, it would take another 10 months for Lindell to really hit bottom.
By 2011, MyPillow was getting some media attention. A local newspaper profiled Lindell and the company. The day the story came out, he was back in Vegas making some money at the card table…then he had another dream: Make an infomercial…“By the end of the year, we went from five employees to 500.” The company now has close to 1,500 employees…Over the last six years, Lindell estimates he’s spent $100 million on infomercials. The results? He’s sold 30 million pillows, and revenues have grown from around $100,000 a year to close to $300 million.
Lindell’s dream come true has had a couple of nightmares in the last year. First, California authorities sued the company for making unsubstantiated health claims. Lindell said he settled rather than go to court. “They would have run me out of money.” The settlement has forced him to redo advertising, and it caused a pause in sales that led to layoffs in the spring…Then the Better Business Bureau revoked MyPillow’s A+ grade, turning it into an F. The reason? The company’s never-ending 2-for-1 price “deal,” which goes against BBB standards because Lindell is manufacturing his own product and is therefore his own wholesaler…Lindell was an early supporter of Donald Trump, and that support has not wavered. Trump asked to meet Lindell last summer…“This guy is going to be the most amazing president in history”…There’s the upcoming book, and maybe a movie, with the help of his friend, actor Stephen Baldwin.
By 2016 Lindell and his company were paying heavy fines for proposing “miracle cures” with his pillow for ailments that they could not back up. In November 2016 NBC was reporting that
Minnesota-based company MyPillow was fined $1 million for running ads with false claims of the pillow helping with snoring, fibromyalgia, migraines and other medical conditions, NBC News reported. Prosecutors in nine California counties brought the charges against the misleading infomercials. MyPillow spends about $1.4 million each week on advertising and more than 18 million pillows have been sold in 10 years, according to the Boston Herald. The lawsuit alleged the company “knew or reasonably should have known” their claims were “untrue or misleading”…The company is no longer allowed to claim the pillows cure, prevent or treat any disease without reliable scientific proof.
There were also additional details reported about the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) downgrading of his MyPillow product in January 2017:
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has revoked the accreditation of Minnesota-based MyPillow, lowering its rating to an F based on a pattern of complaints by consumers…“Continuous BOGO offers, which can then be construed as an item’s regular, everyday price, violate not only BBB’s Code of Advertising – which all BBB Accredited Businesses agree to abide by – but also other state and national organizations’ rules.” The BOGO complaint was not the only issue or complaint the BBB brought to MyPillow’s attention. “As Seen on TV” claims are sometimes listed on MyPillow boxes where the content is NOT the same as seen on the company’s TV ads…Photos of MyPillow on some boxes show the premium, gusseted pillow, when the box actually holds their standard pillow. Claims of offering a “full warranty” when the warranty was not full (customers need to pay a fee to return the pillow).
A cagey businessman, Lindell also knew how to endear himself to the Religious Right populace – kiss up to their “Shangri-la” – Liberty University, as reported by the university itself:
12,000 pillows filled the arena seats for the first Convocation of the school year. The pillows, collectively worth $600,000, came as a gift to all in attendance from the day’s speaker, MyPillow inventor and CEO Mike Lindell. School of Business Dean Dave Brat introduced Lindell and presented him with an honorary Doctor of Business. Brat shared that Lindell’s immensely successful company employs 1,600 workers and has sold over 41 million pillows…Liberty President Jerry Falwell also welcomed Lindell, who is a personal friend. “I can’t think of anybody else who epitomizes the principles that built this school than Mike,” he said…He admitted that for many years after he founded MyPillow and wanted to use it to honor God, he was still mired in addiction…in 2016 Lindell found himself in New York City for a meeting with Donald Trump, who was a presidential candidate at the time…“When I met with Donald Trump, it felt like a divine appointment, and when I walked out of that office I decided I was going to go all in”…He previously appeared on the Convocation stage last semester…“You guys here at Liberty are the hope of the nation, and right now you are on the right paths that I didn’t take back then,” Lindell said….President Jerry Falwell Jr. gave students an update on the recent medical issues experienced by Head Football Coach Hugh Freeze.
Hugh Freeze’s program at Ole Miss was discovered by the NCAA giving players and recruits money, help on exams and other illegal favors, causing them to receive severe sanctions, and Freeze himself was found calling escort services on his school cell phone over five years there, and accepted the university offer for him to resign rather than being fired on the university “morals” clause; as you would expect, Falwell and Liberty immediately offered him what became a five year football coaching contract at Liberty.
Lindell was able to maintain direct contact with Trump through 2018, at least through Mar-A-Lago:
MyPillow founder Mike Lindell took a break from battling an F-rating by the Better Business Bureau to chat with the commander-in-chief at Mar-a-Lago over the Easter weekend. Trump told Lindell that he uses one of the Minnesota-based company’s products. “The President shook my hand and told me, ‘You are doing a great job, Michael.’ He also said he is sleeping great on his MyPillow,” Lindell told the Daily News in an email. “I told him, ‘People come up to me all the time to tell me what a great job you are doing and that you are in their prayers,'” Lindell said. “It was an honor to be at Mar-a-Lago on Easter weekend.” Lindell was a guest of a member of the Florida resort when Trump stopped by their table Saturday night…He tweeted on Monday that he wouldn’t be one of the many advertisers pulling TV spots from Laura Ingraham’s show, after its host mocked Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg for getting rejected from several California colleges.
By March 2020, Lindell was still involved in the administration’s activities, even being invited at the time to a Corona Virus task force briefing for the press, and offered to speak about and promote his company, as documented on the White House website in the following transcript excerpt:
[President Trump] A friend of mine, Mike Lindell of MyPillow. Boy, do you sell those pillows. That’s unbelievable what you do…And I just want to tell all of you that America is very grateful to you and what you’ve done. An amazing job you’ve done, and we thank you very much. I’d like you to come up and say a couple of words, if you might, about your companies. Mike, come on up. Come on up, fellas, please. Come on up. You have to say what you’re doing because it’s been really incredible. Go ahead, Mike.
MR. LINDELL: Okay, well, MyPillow is a U.S. vertically integrated company, which has been forced to adjust to the changing business environment as a result of the pandemic…Given our current business lines, we are experiencing the effects of this pandemic firsthand…I proud to manufacture our products in the United States, and I’m even more proud to be able to serve our nation in this great time of need. Thank you, Mr. President, for your call to action when — which has empowered companies like MyPillow to help our nation win this invisible war. Now, I wrote something off the cuff, if I can read this.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay.
MR. LINDELL: (Laughs.) God gave us grace on November 8th, 2016, to change the course we were on. God had been taken out of our schools and lives. A nation had turned its back on God. And I encourage you: Use this time at home to get — home to get back in the Word, read our Bibles, and spend time with our families. Our President gave us so much hope where, just a few short months ago, we had the best economy, the lowest unemployment, and wages going up. It was amazing. With our great President, Vice President, and this administration and all the great people in this country praying daily, we will get through this and get back to a place that’s stronger and safer than ever.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s very nice. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mike. Appreciate it. Please come on up. I did not know he was going to do that, but he’s a friend of mine, and I do appreciate it. Thank you, Mike, very much.
With this special relationship with the President, it was a ideal time to exploit to exploit a business opportunity created by the COVID crisis, even though he had just been fined for making dubious health benefit claims from his core product he sold to the public. To do this, however, he would need the help of another Trump administration insider on the Cabinet, with medical credentials but also a dark reputation of hawking products with disproven health benefits and wild claims of widespread healing potential.
Back in the fall of 2015, Ben Carson was a Republican presidential candidate, very popular with evangelicals and running against Donald Trump for the nomination. As his support levels were peaking, several news outlets noted his main selling point being his world-renown surgical expertise, and the curious reputation he had in endorsing a controversial medical supplement as a paid spokesman before his popular campaign, such as reported then by CBS News:
During Wednesday night’s Republican presidential debate, Ben Carson put in a plug for Mannatech (MTEX), even while dismissing as “propaganda” the suggestion he had ties to the seller of nutritional supplements, which has a questionable track record that included claims its products could cure Downs syndrome, cystic fibrosis and cancer. Asked why he continued to be involved with the company even after it paid millions to settle a deceptive marketing lawsuit in Texas, Carson said: “That’s easy to answer. I didn’t have an involvement with them. That is total propaganda.” “I did a couple of speeches for them,” the retired neurosurgeon went on to say. “I do speeches for other people. They were paid speeches. It is absolutely absurd to say that I had any kind of relationship with them. Do I take the product? Yes, I think it’s a good product.” In an emailed reply to a request for comment, Mike Crouch, Mannatech’s director of communications, [said] The GOP White House hopeful is a “long-term customer and has spoken about his personal and professional experiences at Mannatech events.”
Carson was paid $42,000 to speak at a company event in 2013, while speaking fees for three prior events were donated to the Carson Scholars Fund, Crouch said. In 2004, Carson told a gathering of Mannatech sales associates that the company’s products helped cure his own prostate cancer, saying in a company video: “within about three weeks my symptoms went away, and I was really quite amazed.” The company’s events often feature testimonials making claims that the company’s products have “cured, mitigated, treated, or prevented diseases,” according to a 2007 petition filed by the Texas Attorney General that accused the company of deceptive marketing. “The whole purpose of the testimonials is to create a frenzy and motivate associates to see even more products, in large part through the relaying of deceptive claims set forth in the testimonials.”
Coppell, Texas-based Mannatech earned $6.5 million in 2014 on revenue of $190.1 million. It claims “glyconutrients” in its products contain sugars that bolster immune and digestive function. Mannatech’s business model involves multilevel marketing, a type of direct selling by independent associates not employed by the company, who purchase Mannatech’s products to resell or for personal use. A regulatory filing in August said 228,000 associates or members in two dozen countries had purchased its products within the last 12 months. Other multilevel marketing companies include Nu Skin Enterprises (NUS), Avon Products (AVP) and Herbalife (HLF). Some, most notably Herbalife, have faced claims they are pyramid schemes. According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, a pyramid scheme is a form of fraud in which “participants profit almost exclusively through recruiting other people to participate in the program.”
Mannatech’s website includes stories of individuals around the globe that have earning more than $1 million since they began working with the company, including the formerly stressed single mom working three jobs in Australia, who is now able to afford holidays and travel. “Basically what the company is doing is trying to find a way to restore natural diet as a medicine, or as a mechanism, for maintaining health,” Carson said in one Mannatech video. “That’s why I was drawn towards Mannatech because it recognized the influence on health of natural foods.” Dietary and nutritional supplements do not require approval by the FDA to be sold in the United States, due to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994. “Carson chose to participate in videos while attending corporate events, where he gave his personal perspective and testimony,” said Crouch, who reiterated the candidate was not a spokesman for the company nor a “paid endorser.”
In March of 2014, Carson shot a PBS special touting “glyconutrients” in a similar vein as he had done in the company’s videos.
Under a 2009 settlement with the Texas attorney general, Mannatech agreed to stop false claims that included pitching its products as cures and treatments for a number of serious illnesses. The company agreed to pay $4 million in restitution to Texas consumers, and its founder paid a $1 million civil penalty. “Texans will not tolerate illegal marketing schemes that prey upon the sick and unsuspecting,” Greg Abbott, the state’s attorney at the time and current governor, said in a statement announcing the accord. The Texas AG’s civil complaint said the company had been notified multiple times by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that its marketing materials made illegal drug claims. Carson’s campaign did not return a request for comment.
I don’t know if the claims of the nutritional supplement of the company Dr. Carson promoted, Mannatech, that it could “cure Down’s Syndrome,” included changing the facial characteristics of those so afflicted, actually removing the extra chromosome from their DNA, or otherwise how it was accomplished.
By August 16, it was being reported that
To the alarm of some government health officials, President Trump has expressed enthusiasm for the Food and Drug Administration to permit an extract from the oleander plant to be marketed as a dietary supplement or, alternatively, approved as a drug to cure COVID-19, despite lack of proof that it works. The experimental botanical extract, oleandrin, was promoted to Trump during an Oval Office meeting in July. It’s embraced by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and MyPillow founder and CEO Mike Lindell, a big Trump backer, who recently took a financial stake in the company that develops the product. Lindell told Axios that in the meeting, Trump “basically said: …’The FDA should be approving it.’“
It’s part of a pattern in which entrepreneurs, often without rigorous vetting, push unproven products to Trump — knowing their sales pitches might catch his eye. Trump will then urge FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn to “look at” or speed up approval. In March, Trump personally lobbied Hahn to authorize hydroxychloroquine’s emergency use to treat COVID-19…Senior administration officials familiar with the internal conversations around oleandrin have raised concerns about the way this botanical extract — pushed by Andrew Whitney of Phoenix Biotechnology — is being promoted at the highest levels of the Trump administration. There is no public data showing oleandrin has ever been tested in animals or humans for its efficacy against COVID-19, but the extract has shown some evidence of inhibiting the virus in a non-peer reviewed laboratory study.
HUD Secretary Carson has enthusiastically promoted oleandrin to Trump administration officials and to the president himself. MyPillow CEO Lindell, who is a major advertiser on Fox News and a personal friend of Carson and Trump, helped Whitney get an Oval Office meeting with the president in July to discuss oleandrin as a potential COVID-19 cure…Lindell said that he, Carson, at least one lawyer and, briefly, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, joined Trump and Whitney for the meeting. Notably absent was Hahn, the head of the agency that studies and approves medical treatments. Asked why the HUD secretary was promoting an unproven botanical extract to cure COVID-19, a Carson spokesperson emailed the following statement to Axios: “Secretary Carson is a member of the Coronavirus Task Force, he has been directly involved with the Administration’s response to this disease from the very beginning…To suggest that Secretary Carson, who is a world-renowned expert in the medical field, shouldn’t be involved is not only absurd but unhelpful in our collective fight to eradicate the pandemic.” Whitney said he is pursuing multiple paths to getting oleandrin to market.
The first path is as a COVID-19 drug, which would involve a rigorous process that includes clinical trials.
But to hedge his bets, Whitney said he is also pushing the FDA to allow oleandrin to be sold off the shelf as a dietary supplement — a move that could be made immediately, Whitney has told administration officials.
Whitney has claimed to administration officials that oleandrin cures COVID-19 in two days, according to a source familiar with his private comments. But if the FDA allows oleandrin to be sold as a dietary supplement, the company would not be allowed to make medical claims about its ability to treat or cure COVID-19.
Asked about this claim about oleandrin being a “cure” for COVID-19, Whitney said he stands by it “100%.”
What they’re saying: “Now, there are all sorts of lawyers who would tell me I can’t say things like that, because you know you need to have years of studies, and you need to have this, that, and the other, and so forth,” Whitney said. “But as an American with a right of free expression, I’m telling you, I’ve seen it with my own eyes.”
Whitney said that by “cure” he means the symptoms go away quickly “in the vast majority of cases.”
A source briefed on the situation said Whitney has so far provided no evidence to give the administration confidence about his claims. Whitney disputed that. “Actually, we have provided that,” he said. Asked what human clinical evidence he has provided to the FDA to support his claim that oleandrin cures COVID-19, Whitney did not provide any additional evidence, saying, “At this stage it’s probably best left at that. The data is compelling…We believe we should be given the opportunity to demonstrate that in a hospital clinical trial setting and we believe that must happen now and not a month from now.”
Hahn appears to be resisting Whitney’s efforts — at least so far — despite Trump expressing his enthusiasm for the FDA to approve oleandrin. Whitney…added: “The process is too slow…We ought to be given an opportunity to test this. Call my bluff!” Whitney has invoked his meeting with the president to apply further pressure on administration officials to approve or authorize oleandrin…Citing the University of Texas study and HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s belief in oleandrin, Whitney said regulators ought to take his product seriously. “This isn’t whipped up in a bucket in someone’s back garden,” he said. “There’s support for this.”
Whitney enlisted Lindell in his effort to speed up approval of the botanical product. In an interview with Axios on Saturday, Lindell spoke passionately in support of oleandrin and said he was such a believer in the botanical that he now has a financial stake in Phoenix Biotechnology and wants to ensure every American has access to this COVID-19 “cure.” Lindell said he first became aware of oleandrin when Whitney called him on Easter Sunday and said it could cure COVID-19. Lindell said he then took the information to Carson, who got on board.
Lindell said he has been taking the unapproved botanical and has shared it with his family and friends. He said he believes it has kept him from getting COVID-19 and has cured other people. (No published clinical studies show the botanical cures or prevents COVID-19. Nor has the FDA said the product is safe or fit for this purpose.) Told about the alarm inside the administration regarding his promotion of oleandrin, Lindell said, “This is the most amazing miracle thing I’ve ever seen in my life, so I went all in…. If you want to know what I think, I think it’s being suppressed because somebody doesn’t want this out there because it works“…Lindell said that in July’s Oval Office meeting, he was joined by President Trump, Carson, Whitney, and briefly White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Lindell said that Stephen Hahn — the head of the FDA, which studies and approves medical treatments — wasn’t there…Whitney said he approached Lindell because he thinks he’s one of the country’s greatest businessmen and was impressed that Lindell mobilized MyPillow to make face masks.
Caree Vander Linden, a spokesperson for the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, emailed the following statement to Axios: “In May 2020, USAMRIID performed some preliminary testing of oleandrin against SARS-CoV-2 [the virus that causes COVID-19]. Our results were inconclusive…Given our inconclusive results, and having other high priority therapeutics to assess, we did not continue with this line of research.”
By August 17 CNN reported that “Lindell was added to the board of Phoenix Biotechnology, which makes oleandrin, and received a financial stake in the company” and that he is “chairman of the Minnesota Trump campaign,” and is “very much” thinking about running for public office.
At the time Forbes reported that “Mike Lindell…said Tuesday he was asked by the administration to gather leads on potential treatments for the White House coronavirus task force,” and that “Lindell told CNN host Anderson Cooper that “this great administration” asked him to “bring back to the [White House coronavirus] task force” anything that is promising to fight coronavirus, be they “good sanitizers or cures.”
By September 4, CNN reported that
The US Food and Drug Administration has rejected a submission from Phoenix Biotechnology Inc. to market oleandrin as a dietary supplement ingredient, citing “significant concerns” about the safety evidence the company presented…On June 2, Phoenix Biotechnology submitted oleandrin to the FDA as a new ingredient in dietary supplements, describing the dosage and saying it’s intended only for adults…The FDA’s response letter, dated August 14, was posted by the agency on Wednesday. It said the company had already tested oleandrin as a potential prescription drug and could not at the same time seek permission to sell it as a supplement – a category with almost no oversight. Even if it hadn’t been excluded from the definition of a dietary supplement under the law, the agency had “significant concerns about the evidence included in your submission as a basis for concluding that a dietary supplement containing ‘Oleandrin’ will reasonably be expected to be safe” if used the way the company described…the safety evidence was not “qualitatively and quantitatively” related to oleandrin as a supplement.
Never fear – by August 23 President Trump had already moved on to yet another “magic bullet” to “pull a rabbit out of a hat” with a “miracle cure” before the election, rather than the responsible, adult, time-honored practices of using masks, socially distancing, and aggressively going through the safe, tested protocols for screening safe yet effective vaccines. But – the “snake oil” and “patent medicine” is so much more fun! This time, its a slightly more credible approach of using “convalescent plasma” of the formerly infected (even though its testing and widespread distribution at best would probably not outrace new vaccines in their advanced vetting stages), as The Washington Post reported on August 23rd:
On the eve of the Republican National Convention where President Trump hopes to revive his flagging political fortunes, he will announce the emergency authorization of convalescent plasma for covid-19, a treatment that already has been given to more than 70,000 patients, according to officials familiar with the decision…Many scientists and physicians believe that convalescent plasma might provide some benefit but is far from a breakthrough. It is rich in antibodies that could be helpful in fighting the coronavirus, but the evidence so far has not been conclusive about whether it works, when to administer it and what dose is needed…The president’s political advisers believe that having a vaccine by Election Day is key to his prospects for winning.
It also lands a day after the president without evidence accused the FDA of impeding enrollment in clinical trials for coronavirus vaccines and therapeutics for political reasons. “The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics,” Trump said on Twitter on Saturday. “Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd….On Sunday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows defended Trump’s tweet. “I can tell you that the announcement that’s coming today should have been made several weeks ago,” Meadows said on “Fox News Sunday,” previewing the administration’s plans. “…Sometimes you have to make them feel the heat if they don’t see the light.”
Upon reflection on the last 33,400 or so words, do we detect a trend here?
Eras and ages of “old guard” members of the “traditionalist” villager populace (now known as conservatives) have historically been skeptical of “new fangled” innovations within science and new ideas, like sanitation, good hygiene, and vaccines. They have traditionally attributed them to conspiracies of witches, sorcery, “forbidden knowledge,” or approaches antithetical to the local fundamentalist “witchfinder general”‘s literal interpretation of a Bible passage, or evidence of a lack of faith in God to solely remedy a situation. Others did not want inconveniences or destroying foul crops or foods, boiling water, or refraining from certain dangerous roots or foods; many thought it infringed upon their “freedom,” even if it perpetuated a Black Death plague to their innocent neighbors, or a corona virus by arrogant unmasked neighbors who insisted on congregating together to flaunt their “freedom” to be reckless, and impose danger upon their more prudent neighbors, and definitely not “loving their neighbor.” This resistance has often been led by the local Christian leadership or wealthy noblemen who stood to lose wealth during such precautions, and both parties often fought a joint front against them. Health innovators or traveling experts, such as those who discovered the affects of poor sanitation and hygiene on disease and eventually the effects of “invisible” germs they could not show them, were usually held in great suspicion, and sometimes were in mortal danger.
However such villagers, including in “Christian” Europe, the Americas and elsewhere, always seemed to accommodate traveling “medicine shows” with “patent medicine” of unknown origin or safety, if the barkers were charismatic and told people what they wanted to hear, with simple, convenient and quick solutions for a “modest price” that went in the hawker’s pocket, and it helped further if they sprinkled some misappropriated Bible verses in their pitch and similar citations, and appealed to their pride. Whether its “patent medicine” they swallow down their gullets or adopt as their theology, the “good folks” have always (by and large) embraced whatever message reinforced what they always wanted to think about themselves, and quick answers that don’t involve sacrifice, inconvenience, patience, or neighbors encouraging and looking out for each other.
Here, in the midst of the Internet Era and ‘Information Age,” with legitimate answers and vetting at our fingertips, has anything changed?
Now, as in centuries past, the “Bible-believing,” “enlightened” conservative/fundamentalist Religious Right community is among the worst offenders. Now, in our circles, we have “survival buckets” as the answer to an increasingly complex world from which they recommend to retreat, or dietary supplements like fermented mushrooms and the like for “What God Wants You To Do Now” and “How You Can Survive the Corona Virus.” These products not only pay the bills for these ministries, but they are quite lucrative, and the ticket for a prosperous ministry from a frightened follower base.
It was traveling circus pioneer and exploitation oddity genius P. T. Barnum who was often mis-attributed the phrase, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” If researchers are to be believed, it should actually be attributed to banker David Hannum, who purchased a granite-made hoax statue called the “Cardiff giant,” from a George Hull who had it made in Ft. Dodge, Iowa and buried near his property to make fools of local Christians in his community, who thought it was fossilized remains of “Nephilim” giants – the same topic consuming the minds and discussions of my fellow Christians in my circles for years, with findings of “elongated heads” and tours being quite lucrative for certain “experts” in our Christian circles, developing into a large cottage industry that, in the vernacular of one of its practitioners, “is real, burgeoning and not going away.” When Barnum saw how people were such suckers for such pseudo-biblical relics, he made his own to tour around, leading to Hannum’s lawsuit against Barnum, and his statement of the gullibility of the Christian community. I personally witnessed the original “Cardiff Giant” “fossil” now housed in a museum in the town where it was made – in Ft. Dodge Iowa; where the enigmatic “R.C. Christian” resided that built the even-more enigmatic “Georgia Guidestones” monument (and likely inspired by the “Giant”).
The companies, individuals and organizations affiliated with the burgeoning and opportunistic “COVID miracle cure” industry and racket we have reviewed in this article remind me of another similar “inspirational” businessman and “job creator” who had a successful method of selling products of dubious safety on the gullible public: