Big Pharma Versus Ivermectin

Part 2 of Series: Reasons Not to Trust Big Pharma

Outline of article:

I. Introduction
II. Evidence for Ivermectin's Effectiveness
III. Reasons for the Propaganda Campaign
IV. Previous Propaganda Campaigns Against Effective Drugs and Supplements
IV. Conclusion


I. Introduction

Ivermectin. What is it? And why is it so controversial? Why has it blown up the news cycle with talk of “horse dewormer” and “ER overdoses” and “preventing gunshot wound victims from getting treatment.” And then what about these stories being proven false?1 Why the hysteria? What’s going on?

Perhaps the initiating force behind this hysteria was a seemingly innocuous article by the FDA.

With an image of a horse as the main picture, most did not even click the article to read it. The connection between horses and ivermectin-using Trump supporters was then forever cemented in most people’s minds.

But as proponents of ivermectin know, it isn’t just a horse drug, or even primarily a horse drug. It is a Nobel prize-winning antiparasitic (with powerful antiviral properties) which has been used safely in humans for decades, including to treat river blindness and malaria.2 In addition, the CDC recommends the treatment of many human immigrants to the U.S. with ivermectin for parasites.3

In fact, the authors of one article published on the NIH website call ivermectin a “wonder-drug” for humans and say that it “has had an immeasurably beneficial impact in improving the lives and welfare of billions of people throughout the world.”4

With such an impressive history, what has made ivermectin the center of what seems to be an all-out propaganda campaign? Could it be that someone or someones feels threatened?


II. Evidence for Ivermectin's Effectiveness

The only factual argument someone can lay against ivermectin is that the studies demonstrating its effectiveness are suspect, that the evidence is “low quality”, and that there haven’t been enough quality studies conducted. However, far less safety-data has been required for the COVID-19 vaccines (due to their not being around long enough to assess long-term safety) and far less effectiveness has been demonstrated for remdesivir, which currently has an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for treating patients hospitalized with COVID-19. In fact, this is what a panel of international experts from the British Medical Journal concluded about the use of remdesivir:

”The panel…advised caution over the potential opportunity cost of using remdesivir while the evidence base was uncertain. They warned that the use of the drug may divert funds, time, attention, and workforce away from other potentially worthwhile treatments."5

Another trial posted on the NIH website also noted the ineffectiveness of remdesivir:

“Our trial found that intravenous remdesivir did not significantly improve the time to clinical improvement, mortality, or time to clearance of virus in patients with serious COVID-19 compared with placebo.'“6

This is not a controversial opinion either; most experts agree that remdesivir shows little benefit, and may even harm.7 There are severe and common adverse effects in patients treated with remdesivir, including respiratory failure, renal failure, and other organ impairment.8 In addition, remdesivir is also an expensive drug. Ivermectin has a far better safety profile, demonstrates much more promising effectiveness, and is far cheaper. So why was it at first ignored and then slandered, when remdesivir is held as the gold standard for treating hospitalized COVID-19 patients? (One can’t help but find the following quote relevant: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”)

Dr. Pierre Kory cites the main reason ivermectin trials appear to be inconclusive is that ivermectin is most efficient as early treatment (something the medical establishment is not recommending at all, which in the author’s opinion is criminal negligence, but that is a topic for another article.) However, even so, a meta-analysis for 64 ivermectin studies demonstrates that 91% of these 64 studies show positive results with the use of ivermectin, and with no severe adverse events such as is seen with the use of remdesivir.9

One of the main trials, the Lopez-Medina study, that the mainstream media has used to “debunk” the effectiveness of ivermectin was showcased in a New York Times article published in March 2021.10 However, there are quite a few faults found in this paper (follow footnote (11) to read more about this), and the conflicts of interest are glaring: the authors of the study were funded by vaccine manufacturers as seen in the image below.11

Does anyone remember the scandal with Big Tobacco: how they funded their own research suppressing the harmful effects of tobacco use, and how this made the research suspect?12


III. Reasons for the Propaganda Campaign

If ivermectin seems to show such promise, and if, as Dr. Kory says, it is immoral at this point not to prescribe it due to the overwhelming evidence, then why is there an all-out concerted campaign to slander it, and to bully doctors into not prescribing it?13 In Australia, ivermectin has even been banned, due to Australian regulators believing doctors prescribe the medicine “too much”.14 There are also reports of this happening in the U.S., as documented in the Project Veritas whistleblower video, among others.

In the Project Veritas video, the whistleblower, a registered nurse working for the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS), Jodi O’Malley, speaks with a pharmacist, Lundberg (though her first name is freely available online, I am leaving it out for privacy’s sake. It appears she didn’t know she was being recorded), about not being allowed to prescribe ivermectin:

O’Malley: “Did Dr. Bhagwan talk to you about prescribing ivermectin for [patient]?”

Lundberg: “Not allowed at this facility.”

O’Malley: “So physicians can’t prescribe off-label use medication here?”

Lundberg: “Not for COVID. They did it with hydroxychloroquine, and it was really bad. And so they are not allowing it right now.”

O’Malley: “[Dr. Bhagwan] said, ‘Yes. I would agree to write this [prescription] because she’s not contra-indicated. And—”

Lundberg: “Dr. Bhagwan said that?”

O’Malley: “Yes.

Lundberg: “I am stuck. I am told you are absolutely not to use it under any circumstances whatsoever for somebody with Covid, unless you don’t want to have a job. I’m not going to lose my job over this.”15

What happened to trusting doctors?

Even though we can see quite clearly this propaganda campaign, discerning the motive is a far more speculative affair, though several convincing ones have been offered and I will list them briefly here.

  1. Pursuit of Profit: perhaps the most obvious of them all. Any competition threatens the vaccine manufacturers. Nine “vaccine billionaires” have been newly minted since the advent of the COVID-19 crisis.16 In addition, it should be noted that Congress is heavily invested in Big Pharma stocks and given significant campaign contributions by Big Pharma corporations. Kevin McCarthy, for instance, was given $380,350 in campaign contributions in 2017-8, with a significant portion being donated by Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck), and an FDA medical advisor even went so far as to say in 2019 that “Congress is owned by Pharma.”17

  1. Regulatory Capture: In addition to Congress, the FDA and CDC, too, are also owned by Big Pharma, as these corporations fund 75% of FDA’s budget which goes toward drug approval.18 According to a 2015 investigation by The British Medical Journal, the CDC receives millions of dollars in industry gifts and funding, both directly and indirectly, and several recent CDC actions and recommendations have raised questions about the science it cites, the clinical guidelines it promotes, and the money it is taking.”19

    It is for these reasons that Bret Weinstein rightly calls the situation: “regulatory capture.20 (I will expand upon this topic in my last article in the Big Pharma series to be published next week.) With so much funding from these pharmaceutical corporations, how can the public trust that the drugs pushed by these corporations are subject to the same rigorous approval process as drugs from companies whose money doesn’t benefit these governmental agencies? In addition, Scott Gottlieb, joined the Pfizer board only a few months after resigning from the FDA. In response to this, even former activist Elizabeth Warren demanded that he resign from Pfizer, saying:

“this kind of revolving door influence-peddling smacks of corruption, and makes the American people rightfully cynical and distrustful about whether high-level Trump Administration officials are working for them, or for their future corporate employers.”21

One wonders if she still maintains this opinion, or if this is now considered an anti-vax position.

The case of Gottlieb is not an isolated incident either; nine of the last ten FDA commissioners have worked for pharmaceutical companies after resigning from the FDA.22

  1. Aggressive Pharmaceutical Marketing: As outlined in my last article on Pfizer’s long history of corruption, Pfizer in particular has a long history of being charged criminal fines due to illegal and manipulative marketing schemes, but this is also nothing new for pharmaceutical corporations. Some major opioid lawsuits have just been settled, in which it was concluded that certain pharmaceutical companies “persuaded the American medical establishment that strong opioids should be much more widely prescribed—and that physicians’ longstanding fears about the addictive nature of such drugs were overblown.23

  2. Invalidation of the EUA: Many discerning observers have noted that the EUA would not be possible because as the CDC states: “FDA may issue an EUA when certain criteria are met, which includes that there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives.24 This is not as relevant a point anymore, due to Pfizer now being fully approved by the FDA, but it was for the whole year and a half of the pandemic before FDA approval.

  1. Development of New, Expensive Antivirals: The FDA consistently maintains a position of preferring newer, expensive drugs compared to old, repurposed, off-patent drugs. The reason for this may be explained by the “regulatory capture” section above. Merck, the original patent holder of ivermectin, is now the lead in a campaign to create a new antiviral to treat COVID-19.25 Ivermectin-skeptics believe this means that even the original maker of ivermectin does not believe it effective to treat COVID-19. However, ivermectin-proponents believe this is further evidence of a malicious campaign to slander ivermectin. Since ivermectin is a cheap, generic, off-label medicine, it wouldn’t earn for Merck nearly as much profit as the new antiviral they (as well as Pfizer) just received a huge grant from the U.S. government for developing. This antiviral will likely produce results similar to ivermectin.26

  2. Groupthink: As was demonstrated to the public with the lab-leak hypothesis, scientists are afraid of having their reputation ruined. In addition, the Asch conformity experiment demonstrated that people tend to want to agree with what everyone else is saying, rather than be singled out for being the only one to select what they believe to be the correct answer.27 Reputations and lifelong careers are at stake. Peer and institutional pressure is very real, even for those whom we would hope to be objective doctors and scientists. The following statement by Galileo Galilei is quite relevant to today’s times:

“In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.”28


IV. Previous Propaganda Campaigns Against Effective Drugs and Supplements

The following are a few examples of other times the FDA has campaigned against demonstrably effective drugs and supplements. I include these to show that the ivermectin campaign is not an unusual nor an isolated incident. The FDA has shown a pattern of this type of behavior in the following examples:

  • Stevia: In a campaign well-known among health-conscious folk, the FDA declined to approve stevia, a natural sugar substitute (from the stevia leaf), which has no adverse effects, but actually confers health benefits such as lowering the blood pressure and blood glucose.29 However, they approved aspartame, sucralose and high fructose corn syrup, although all were demonstrated to have deleterious health effects.30 Since stevia is plant-derived, and the others are not, but are rather produced by major corporations (ADM, Tate and Lyle, G.D. Searle, and Royal DSM), it is likely that, as with ivermectin, profits guide policy for the FDA.31

  • Droperidol: Droperidol is a cheap drug widely used safely for decades until the FDA suddenly issued a “black box warning” that it can cause cardiac arrest.32 This was in spite of the fact that there had not been a single cardiac event related to the use of the drug. This killed the use of it in the U.S., and paved the way for more expensive non-generic drugs which had more severe adverse effects, including cardiac arrests and death.33 Even after these adverse effects were apparent, the FDA never removed its black box warning for droperidol, and never issued warnings for these new expensive drugs.34

  • Cannabis: In 2005, the FDA declared that cannabis had no medicinal value, although a great deal of research demonstrated otherwise, including by the Institute of Medicine.35


IV. Conclusion

As Dr. Kory, one of the most famous and sincere proponents of ivermectin, stressed: ivermectin is not meant to be a replacement for vaccination; however, it can greatly supplement and support the vaccination effort. Both through helping countries which don’t have a widespread vaccine rollout, and for use in those who decline to be vaccinated, whether for medical, religious, or personal reasons. Because of this, it is immoral for countries to not only not recommend ivermectin despite the positive evidence regarding its safety and efficacy, but to slander and prohibit it. The reasons ivermectin is not currently recommended are inextricably linked with factors of corruption (lobbying, conflicts of interest, and corporate cronyism) and war profiteering by pharmaceutical corporations.

David Graham, the Associate Director of the FDA’s Office of Drug Safety, said: “[The] FDA is inherently biased in favor of the pharmaceutical industry. It views industry as its client, whose interests it must represent and advance.”36

It appears the healthcare agencies are clearly acting against the public’s health interests by declining early treatment and by slandering effective drugs used by thousands of front-line healthcare workers across the world. In addition, we can see clearly the ties between the healthcare agencies and Big Pharma. How then can we trust their guidance, especially when they are not being transparent with the public, particularly with safety data relating to the vaccines?

The only safety data the CDC points the public to is the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS); yet in the same breath, they will criticize VAERS as being unreliable since “anyone can report”.37 As of September 15th, VAERS reports 15,386 COVID-vaccine related deaths, 66,642 COVID-vaccine related hospitalizations, and 726,963 COVID-vaccine related adverse events.38 If VAERS is unreliable, what safety data can be the public be directed to? Transparency is key to gain the public’s trust.

David Graham said:

"The emphasis at FDA is on approval, and the focus is on efficacy. Safety isn't on the radar screen regardless of what FDA officialdom would have you believe."

When we have the words of this FDA insider, when we have the history and the evidence outlined here regarding the campaign against ivermectin, it becomes difficult to conclude anything other than that it is a propaganda campaign in favor of Big Pharma.

Dr. Kory said (in the first meme I’ve ever created: source to these words is linked here39):

1

“The Media Fell for a Viral Hoax About Ivermectin Overdoses Straining Rural Hospitals.” Reason. https://reason.com/2021/09/06/ivermectin-overdoses-oklahoma-hospitals-rolling-stone-hoax/

2

“Ivermectin: an award-winning drug with expected antiviral activity against COVID-19.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7539925/

3

“Oversees Refugee Health Guidance.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/immigrantrefugeehealth/guidelines/overseas-guidelines.html

4

“Ivermectin, ‘Wonder drug’ from Japan: the human use perspective.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3043740/

5

“Covid-19: Remdesivir probably reduces recovery time, but evidence is uncertain, panel finds.” The BMJ. https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m3049

6

”Remdesivir in adults with severe COVID-19: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre trial.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7190303/

7

“Big global study finds remdesivir doesn't help Covid-19 patients.” CNN Health. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/10/15/health/remdesivir-covid-who-trial-mortality/index.html

8

The common adverse event noted during compassionate use of remdesivir in patients with COVID-19 by Grein et al. include rash, diarrhea, hypotension, abnormal liver function and renal impairment. Serious adverse events (acute kidney injury, septic shock, multi-organ failure) was noted in 23%, while 60% had at least one adverse event and 8% discontinued due to various side effect of remdesivir [20]. Adverse events were similar in remdesivir (66%) and control arm (64%) in study of Wang et al.”
“Remdesivir in COVID-19: A critical review of pharmacology, pre-clinical and clinical studies.” U.S. National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7214279/

9

“FDA Analysis.” Ivermectin for COVID-19: real-time meta analysis of 64 studies. https://ivmmeta.com/#fda. For more on evidence regarding ivermectin, see the following document from the FLCCC (Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance): https://t.co/8Pe187rXEB?amp=1

10

“Popular Drug Does not Alleviate Mild Covid-19 Symptoms, Study Finds." The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/04/science/coronavirus-ivermectin-treatment.html

11

“Is there a Problem with the Lopez-Medina, Colombia-based Study Implicating Ivermectin? Major Pharma Companies Including Merck Funding the Trial Site during the Study.” Trial Site News. https://trialsitenews.com/is-there-a-problem-with-the-lopez-medina-colombia-based-study-implicating-ivermectin-major-pharma-companies-including-merck-funding-the-trial-site-during-the-study/

12

“Big tobacco and science: Uncovering the truth.” University of California Davis Health. https://health.ucdavis.edu/welcome/features/20071114_cardio-tobacco/

13

“Arkansas doctor under investigation for prescribing anti-parasitic drug thousands of times for Covid-19 despite FDA warning.” CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/26/us/covid-ivermectin-arkansas-doctor/index.html

14

“Ivermectin: Australian regulator bans drug as Covid treatment after sharp rise in prescriptions.” The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/sep/10/australian-drug-regulator-bans-ivermectin-as-covid-treatment-after-sharp-rise-in-prescriptions

15

“This is Evil at the Highest Level,’ Says HHS Whistleblower.’” Children’s Health Defense. https://childrenshealthdefense.org/defender/project-veritas-jodi-omalley-hhs-whistleblower-covid-vaccine/

16

“Covid vaccine profits mint 9 new pharma billionaires.” CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/21/business/covid-vaccine-billionaires/index.html

17

“FDA medical adviser: 'Congress is owned by pharma.'“ Yahoo! Finance. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/congress-big-pharma-money-123757664.html

18

“The Biopharmaceutical Industry Provides 75% Of The FDA's Drug Review Budget. Is This A Problem?” Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnlamattina/2018/06/28/the-biopharmaceutical-industry-provides-75-of-the-fdas-drug-review-budget-is-this-a-problem/?sh=7b4351a949ec

19

“Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: protecting the private good?” The British Medical Journal. https://www.bmj.com/content/350/bmj.h2362.full

21

“Elizabeth Warren calls on Trump's former FDA commissioner to resign from Pfizer.” USA Today. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/07/03/elizabeth-warren-tells-scott-gottlieb-resign-pfizer-board/1637789001/

22

“Trust issues deepen as yet another FDA commissioner joins the pharmaceutical industry.” Quartz. https://qz.com/1656529/yet-another-fda-commissioner-joins-the-pharmaceutical-industry/

23

“The Sackler Family’s Plan to Keep its Billions.” The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-sackler-familys-plan-to-keep-its-billions

24

“COVID-19 Moderna Vaccine EUA Fact Sheet for Recipients.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/eua/modernatx.html

25

“A Daily Pill To Treat COVID Could Be Just Months Away, Scientists Say.” Health News Florida. https://health.wusf.usf.edu/health-news-florida/2021-09-24/a-daily-pill-to-treat-covid-could-be-just-months-away-scientists-say

26

“Could Pfizer and Merck Be Big Winners With COVID Pills?” The Motley Fool. https://www.fool.com/investing/2021/09/19/could-pfizer-and-merck-be-big-winners-with-covid-p/

27

Solomon Asch - Conformity Experiment. Simply Psychology. https://www.simplypsychology.org/asch-conformity.html

28

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642). Wolfram Research. https://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Galileo.html

29

“Does stevia have any side effects?” Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319837

30

“What Are the Dangers of Splenda, Sucralose and Aspartame?” Livestrong. https://www.livestrong.com/article/447584-what-are-the-dangers-of-splenda-sucralose-and-aspartame/

31

“Stevia: The FDA's Attack On A Beneficial Supplement.” Organic Consumers Association. https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/stevia-fdas-attack-beneficial-supplement

32

“Droperidol: A Cost-Effective Antiemetic for Over Thirty Years.” International Anesthesia Research Society. https://journals.lww.com/anesthesia-analgesia/Fulltext/2002/10000/Droperidol__A_Cost_Effective_Antiemetic_for_Over.1.aspx

34

“Food and Drug Administration Black Box Warning on the Perioperative Use of Droperidol: A Review of the Cases.” International Anesthesia Research Society. https://journals.lww.com/anesthesia-analgesia/Fulltext/2003/05000/Food_and_Drug_Administration_Black_Box_Warning_on.25.aspx

35

“FDA on Medical Marijuana: Science or Politics?” NPR. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5356029

36

“FDA Incapable of Protecting U.S., Scientist Alleges.” National Health Federation. http://www.thenhf.com/pdf/dr_graham_article_fraud_magazine.pdf

37

“Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/ensuringsafety/monitoring/vaers/index.html

38

Open VAERS.

https://openvaers.com/

39

“Ivermectin — Experts slams ‘absurd’ regulatory opposition to ‘drug that could end pandemic.’” Newstalk. https://www.newstalk.com/news/ivermectin-expert-slams-absurd-regulatory-opposition-to-drug-that-could-end-pandemic-1238674

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