by Jefferey Jaxen
Health Impact News
As the race to November’s presidential election in the United States heats up, the public is looking for transparency from potential candidates. Is the public getting what it wants?
So far, it appears to be rhetoric as usual from candidates with promises and buzz words shortened to nice soundbites being gobbled up eagerly by social media. As the concept of full transparency and open source information is permeating popular culture, it still takes some digging to find out a candidate’s history, financial donors and underhanded dealings.
Perhaps this is why a proposed ballot initiative is circulating that would require politicians to wear the logos of their top 10 corporate donors. With all the challenges facing the people of the United States currently, presidential candidates have their pick of issues to grandstand on.
Corporate Crime the Norm as U.S. Ranks Last in Health Care Among Developed Nations
When it comes to health care, the United States has been ranked last among developed nations. The country is facing down an onslaught of legislation at many levels aiming for mandatory vaccination and the fast tracking of potentially deadly pharmaceutical drugs.
Dangerous products from private companies are being forced into citizen’s bodies, backed by the full extent of government force, with no liability required by the manufacturers or health professionals distributing them.
A valid concern for many who understand immunization research and data is the fact that the shots are neither safe, nor effective. Autism spectrum disorder rates are rising fast and threatening the very stability of society as we know it.
Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies are building on their rich history of highly criminal activity and willful damage to the public. Five of the eight largest pharmaceutical settlements in history have taken place in the last fives years. Since 2010, pharmaceutical criminal and civil fines have totaled nearly $10 billion dollars.
The recent and historic $160 billion mega-merger of U.S. drug house Pfizer and Allergan allows Pfizer to dodge American taxes. Why pharmaceutical tax dodging of this nature isn’t a concern of all current presidential candidates is anyone’s guess. The recent merger allows Pfizer to relocate its headquarters to Ireland, where Allergan is incorporated and the tax rate for corporations is 12.5% — less than the U.S. rate of 39.2%. For Pfizer, it means taxes will go as low as 17%. Using Pfizer’s 2014 financial report earnings, they would now be paying $8,432,000,000 in taxes instead of $19,344,000,000.
Is There Any Hope Among Presidential Candidates to Curb Medical Tyranny and Corporate Cronyism?
Alternative health modalities, medical choice and medical freedom are under increasing and sustained attack in the United States fueled by corporate interests. Are the current presidential candidates operating independently from drug company influence? Pharmaceutical companies with endless funding and an army of lobbyists are able to influence legislation and politicians both working to further secure the U.S. drug monopoly.
The 2016 Presidential election is perhaps the most important for pharmaceutical bottom lines as the 21st Century Cures Act hangs in the balance. The bill would fast track Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of new drugs.
Language contained in the bill would essentially sidestep what little checks and balances the FDA has left on influencing the approval of new drugs. Rather than relying on randomized, controlled trials, drug approval under the 21st Century Cures Act would officially use the public as the final phase of testing. New drug approval would be green lighted based on “clinical experience,” which includes observational study, patient anecdotes, and other such methods.
The entire U.S. population would now become at risk for the damage that small, controlled drug trials are designed to buffer and protect from.
From the start, the bill was birthed and raised within corruption and conflict of interest according to research by Alex Lazar at OpenSecrets.org reporting how much each of the bill’s sponsors received from pharmaceutical donors:
“…the bill’s original sponsors: $302,700 for Upton, $184,500 for Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), $174,072 for Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) — the Committee’s ranking member, $112,949 for DeGette and $72,044 for Gene Green (D-Texas). Pallone’s district contains the headquarters of pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, whose PAC gave him $10,000 in the last election cycle.”
How do the individual presidential candidates stack up in relations to pharmaceutical allegiance, their stance on mandatory vaccination laws and drug company donations they have accepted for their campaign? The Center for Responsive Politics is the nation’s premier research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy. The group tracked all donations that took place during the 2015-2016 election cycle. The table below is what they found:
Big Pharma’s Financial Influence on Political Candidates
It has been reported that during the 2015-2016 election cycle, pharmaceutical companies contributed $5,093,565 to political candidates and parties. With this kind of money being thrown around, it is essential to understand whether potential candidates are standing with the people or with drug company donors.
U.S. News & World Report showed that, although publicly speaking out against pharmaceutical companies, Hillary Clinton has continued accepting money from the same drug company donors. The article stated:
“Since her first bid for Senate in 2000, Clinton has accepted nearly $1 million from drug and health companies…”
Her campaign funds include donations connected to Pfizer Inc., Johnson & Johnson and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.
In the midst of admitted research fraud from a senior scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Clinton stated on Twitter “The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let’s protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest”
Bernie Sanders made waves recently as one of the few candidates to back up strong rhetoric with action. While bashing drug companies along the campaign trail, Sanders was offered a $2,700 donation from Martin Shkreli, CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, in an attempt to get a meeting with the Democratic candidate. Stat’s David Nather reported the following:
Campaign spokesman Michael Briggs said Sanders won’t keep the money. Instead, the campaign will make a $2,700 donation to the Whitman-Walker health clinic in Washington. “We are not keeping the money from this poster boy for drug company greed,” Briggs said.
Jeb Bush has served on the boards of various medical and drug companies. From 2009 to 2014 Bush served on the board of CorMatrix Cardiovascular Inc., a privately held medical device company. Danny Diaz, brought on to manage Bush’s presidential run, co-founded FP1 Strategies consulting firm. Before teaming with Bush, Diaz’s firm “waged a state-by-state campaign helping the pharmaceutical industry…” according to The Intercept.
Ted Cruz, who has regularly spoken out against “corporate welfare” has accepted $102,975 dollars from pharmaceutical companies. In 2015 Cruz introduced a bill concerning drug and medical device approval. If any drug or medical device is rejected by the FDA as unproven or dangerous, a subsection of Cruz’s S. 2388 bill allows congress to overrule the FDA and allow the drug to go to market with a simple vote. The bill’s language mutes medical reality in favor of political conflicts of interest, revolving doors and lobbying. As a partner at the law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Cruz represented Pfizer when California County accused the drug manufacturer and other pharmaceutical firms of overcharging. The case ended in a win for the pharmaceutical firms as the Supreme Court tossed out the case.
In 2014, Ben Carson was named chairman of Vaccinogen, a biotechnology company that produces personalized vaccines. However, Carson did step down from his chairman position upon announcing his run for candidacy. On the issue of vaccines, Carson has said that there should be no “religious” or “philosophical” exemptions for “safe immunization programs.” Yet, he also stated during a presidential campaign debate in September of 2015 “…it is true that we are probably giving way too many [vaccines] in too short a period of a time.”
Chris Christie has received $175,000 in pharmaceutical company donations towards his 2016 presidential run. Christie’s state of New Jersey houses 17 of the world’s 20 largest pharmaceutical drug companies. In 2011, Bayer was set to receive up to $38.2 million in economic development grants for choosing to house it’s U.S. headquarters in New Jersey. Christie, speaking at the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America at the time, stated his intention to form “collaborative partnerships.” Further in that same 2011 speech, New Jersey governor Christie announced “To look at this industry [pharmaceutical] and say what we need is more regulation is an insane approach.”
Donald Trump has not been shy in voicing his beliefs and ideas to make America great again. Although his campaign website doesn’t include a position regarding pharmaceutical companies and their practices, he has found time to publicly address some key points. Being the first candidate to bring up a possible link between autism and vaccines, Trump and Clinton both jumped at the opportunity to publicly bash pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli for price gouging.
In the past, Rand Paul has taken a total of $10,000 from pharmaceutical lobbyist representing Amgen Inc., one of the world’s leading biotech drug companies. Yet Paul has been steadfast against Big Pharma and while consistently trumpeting medical freedom having stated “I’m all for vaccines. But I’m also for freedom.”
Marco Rubio joined Trump and Clinton in adding his two cents regarding pharmaceutical price gouging in late 2015. Rubio stated that the practice is simply “pure profiteering” and the existence of it threatens to “bankrupt our system.” Yet the surface comments bashing pharmaceutical companies made by various candidates all appear to miss the root cause of widespread drug company criminality and the failed healing paradigm of sick care they profit off of.
Rick Santorum has taken $799,165 from pharmaceutical companies during his 2015-2016 presidential run. Yet perhaps the most telling glimpse of his ideas about drug companies came when he was confronted at a 2012 Tea Party rally by a mother and her sick child. After the mother pointed out that her son’s medication would cost over $1 million a year on paper, Santorum’s response included this statement:
“He’s alive today because drug companies provide care and if they didn’t think they could make money providing that drug, that drug wouldn’t be here.
It should be noted that both Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush have received money from Bank of America (BofA). The bank has continually been caught laundering billions in Mexican and South American drug cartel money. In 2012, the Wall Street Journal reported that a federal probe into Los Zetas, a Mexican drug cartel, found the group had been laundering money through accounts at BofA. In 2006, BofA officials acknowledged they failed to catch $3 billion in laundered South American money through one of its Manhattan branches.
Does the American public have any reason to believe that anything will be different with a new president in the White House?
TLB recommends you read more great articles from Vaccine Impact News.