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It’s always about the grift

Hawkers of ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, and other “miracle cures” for COVID-19 are just like snake oil salesmen going back to time immemorial. Sure, many, if not most, of them believe in their quackery, but it’s also always about the grift.

I’ve been writing about quacks for over 20 years now if you count my time on Usenet before I launched the first iteration of this blog in 2004. Indeed, my very first (substantive) post asked the question: How can intelligent people use alternative medicine? Soon after, I started deconstructing alternative cancer cure “testimonials” (with many variations over the years) and thus this blog was born. Over the years, I’ve occasionally contemplate another question: Do those pushing alternative medicine “miracle cures,” be they for cancer or other serious diseases, really believe in their quackery or are they just in it for the grift? In other words, are they true believers or scamming grifters? The answer is more complicated than I had initially thought, but when you come right down to it often they’re both. They believed, which led them to start selling their “cures,” and now they’re in it for the grift too.

Take Joe Mercola—please!—for instance. He originally started his empire of quackery and disinformation back in the late 1990s with a website and an email newsletter about “natural medicine” and supplements. As his popularity grew, he then started selling those supplements and products to support his bandwidth charges and other expenses involved in running a website with increasing traffic. His traffic grew, as did his sales, which were driven by the increasing popularity of his website, to the point where I now call him a quack tycoon because his net worth is north of $100 million. Unfortunately, he is now using that immense wealth to fund antivaccine causes and promote COVID-19 disinformation. In other words, in the case of Joe Mercola, it started with true belief, but then came the grift. Now it’s mainly about the grift.

I was thinking of this general question of belief versus grift as I came across an article last night by Micah Lee for The Intercept entitled Network of right-wing health care providers is making millions off hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, hacked data reveals. As you might have guessed, it’s about a fairly frequent topic of this blog since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, namely repurposed drugs that have been promoted since very early in the pandemic as “miracle cures” for COVID-19, the two most prominent and common of which have been hydroxychloroquine, which was promoted more last year but failed to demonstrate efficacy in clinical trials, and ivermectin, which is the new hydroxychloroquine.

Hydroxychloroquine, as you might recall, is an antimalarial drug that also has mild immunosuppressive effects that make it useful to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune conditions. I once called it the Black Knight of COVID-19 treatments, because no matter how many negative studies were published its promoters, like the proverbial Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail after Arthur had lopped off one of his limbs, responded, “‘Tis but a scratch.” Ivermectin is an antihelmintic drug used to treat diseases caused by parasitic roundworms in animals and humans that has supplanted hydroxychloroquine as the preferred “miracle cure” for COVID-19. One feature of the craze surrounding both drugs is the way that the promotion of them provoked runs on the drugs. Early in the pandemic, rheumatoid arthritis sufferers and others with autoimmune diseases were often unable to obtain hydroxychloroquine because it was sold out. More recently, runs on ivermectin have led to serious problems for ranchers, veterinarians, and farmers, who pay inflated can’t obtain the drug for animals or end up paying massively inflated prices for it because of shortages.

You can probably guess what Lee found out about the promotion of ivermectin (and, to a lesser extent, hydroxychloroquine. Basically, some of our favorite quacks have been engaging in some very profitable grift:

A network of health care providers pocketed millions of dollars selling hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, and online consultations, according to hacked data provided to The Intercept. The data show that vast sums of money are being extracted from people concerned about or suffering from Covid-19 but resistant to vaccinations or other recommendations of public health authorities.

America’s Frontline Doctors, a right-wing group founded last year to promote pro-Trump doctors during the coronavirus pandemic, is working in tandem with a small network of health care companies to sow distrust in the Covid-19 vaccine, dupe tens of thousands of people into seeking ineffective treatments for the disease, and then sell consultations and millions of dollars’ worth of those medications. The data indicate patients spent at least $15 million — and potentially much more — on consultations and medications combined.

Of course America’s Frontline Doctors are at the heart of this grift! You might remember that the first time I ever wrote about this group was during the summer of 2020. That’s when they first hit the national news for holding a “press conference” in which, besides spewing a number of common COVID-19 conspiracy theories (such as the “plandemic” conspiracy theory, some very dubious doctors claiming to be at the “frontlines” taking care of COVID-19 patients also touted hydroxychloroquine as a miracle cure for coronavirus. You might recall that one of the “frontline” doctors involved, Dr. Stella Immanuel, provoked a veritable frenzy of “demon sperm” memes when it was learned that she believed that sex with demons was responsible for many gynecological complaints in women. More recently, the group has turned antivaccine, having sued over the supposed deaths of thousands due to COVID-19 vaccines. Naturally, they’ve also turned to hawking ivermectin and ivermectin conspiracy theories based on fraudulent studies. Worse, you’d think that such a bunch of quacks and grifters would be marginalized. You’d be wrong. One of them, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, was recently nominated to be Florida’s Surgeon General and Secretary of the Florida Department of Health.

But back to the grift.

I do rather love how grifters gonna grift, but generally aren’t nearly as careful about it as they should be if they wish to avoid incriminating evidence coming to light. For example:

The Intercept has obtained hundreds of thousands of records from two companies, CadenceHealth.us and Ravkoo, revealing just how the lucrative operation works. America’s Frontline Doctors, or AFLDS, has been spreading highly politicized misinformation about Covid-19 since the summer of 2020 and refers its many followers to its telemedicine partner SpeakWithAnMD.com, which uses Cadence Health as a platform. People who sign up then pay $90 for a phone consultation with “AFLDS-trained physicians” who prescribe treatments such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin to prevent and treat Covid-19. The drugs are delivered by Ravkoo, a service that works with local pharmacies to ship drugs to patients’ doors. Of course, that’s if patients ever get the consultation; many customers told Time they never received the call after paying.

The data from the Cadence Health and Ravkoo sites was provided to The Intercept by an anonymous hacker who said the sites were “hilariously easy” to hack, despite promises of patient privacy. It was corroborated by comparing it to publicly available information. The Intercept is not publishing any individual patient data and has taken steps to secure the data.

There’s so much to unpack here. The first point is obvious. You’d think that grifters would be more careful about cybersecurity, given that failure to protect their information stored on computers tends to be how many of them end up being taken down by law enforcement. In this case, the failure is hilariously epic. One can’t help but feel a healthy measure of schadenfreude.

Next, it’s obvious that this whole operation was always a pill mill. Instead of selling, for example, opioid prescriptions, America’s Frontline Quacks (a far better name for them) are selling prescriptions for ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. The telehealth visits are just a sham that allows the grift to proceed. Patients who ever thought that this was about anything other than the grift and that they were going to get a real medical consultation via telehealth soon learned the error of their ways. It’s even worse than that, though. So thorough is the grift that patients paid their money and didn’t get anything:

Mike says he was struggling with COVID-19 when he felt his breathing getting worse. He did not want to go to the Veterans Affairs hospital near his home, where he believed doctors might put him on a ventilator. And he knew they would not prescribe the treatment he really wanted: a drug called ivermectin.

So in late July, Mike, who says he is a 48-year-old teacher and disabled veteran from New York state, contacted America’s Frontline Doctors (AFLD), a group he had been following on social media. AFLD has been a leading promoter of ivermectin, a medication typically used to treat parasitic worms in livestock, as a “safe and effective treatment” for COVID-19. Through its website, Mike says, he paid the group $90 for a telemedicine appointment with a doctor willing to prescribe the drug.

A week later, he was still anxiously waiting for the consultation. Calls and emails to AFLD went unreturned, he says. Finally, he called his bank to report a fraudulent charge. “Not even an apology,” Mike, whom TIME is referring to using a pseudonym because of his concerns about his job, told TIME in an interview. “This is absolutely nuts. This organization is not helping anyone but their pocketbooks.”

Well, yes. That is what this is about now. I rather suspect that many, if not most, of America’s Frontline Quacks started out believing in these COVID-19 treatments, but now it’s all about that sweet, sweet grift, as a previous TIME investigation showed:

Its followers aren’t the only ones with questions about AFLD. It’s hard to pin down how many people the group employs, how much money it’s taking in, or how that money has been spent, in part because the non-profit has failed to file required disclosures. After it failed to submit its annual report in Arizona, where the group is registered under the name “Free Speech Foundation,” the state recently downgraded the organization’s charitable status to “pending inactive.”

Over the past three months, a TIME investigation found, hundreds of AFLD customers and donors have accused the group of touting a service promising prescriptions for ivermectin, which medical authorities say should not be taken to treat or prevent COVID-19, and failing to deliver after a fee had been paid. Some customers described being charged for consultations that did not happen. Others said they were connected to digital pharmacies that quoted excessive prices of up to $700 for the cheap medication. In more than 3,000 messages reviewed by TIME, dozens of people described their or their family members’ COVID-19 symptoms worsening while they waited for an unproven “wonder drug” that didn’t arrive.

Imagine that. America’s Frontline quacks never filed any required disclosures and then rebranded itself under a different name after failing to submit an annual report. Meanwhile, the grift continues, and the marks keep coming, even as the grifters make excuses, such as blaming the victims for user error, citing “overwhelming demand” for ivermectin, and promising refunds for customers who never received the consultations with doctors and prescriptions that they paid for. The simplest retort to this is: If that’s the case, then why did you keep taking orders for telehealth visits and charging the customers before any such visits occurred? A reputable and honest business might continue taking orders, but would not charge patients until after the telehealth visits had occurred.

But how much grift are we talking about here? Back to The Intercept, where accomplices of America’s Frontline Quacks are scattering in the light after the rock has been lifted off of them:

After The Intercept reached out, Cadence Health’s Roque Espinal-Valdez said he shut the platform down, not wanting any part in profiting off of Covid-19 “quackery.”

What are the odds that Mr. Espinal-Valdez knew what was going on? How could he not have known? Did he not consider it rather…odd…that his company was suddenly receiving so much business from one rather notorious group? That’s the excuse he’s making:

Roque Espinal, Cadence Health’s CEO, told The Intercept that he was unaware of the scheme and that Cadence Health simply provided a telehealth platform for SpeakWithAnMD.com, its patients, and physicians. “I’m totally flabbergasted. I had to look up exactly who these people were,” he said. “I’m fully vaccinated. My children are fully vaccinated. I’m trying to make heads and tails of this right now.” After talking with The Intercept on Monday, Espinal said he terminated service with SpeakWithAnMD. He added, “I don’t want to be associated with any crap like that. None of that quackery that’s going on.” SpeakWithAnMD’s telemedicine platform, which relies on Cadence Health, is currently down.

I can’t escape the sneaking suspicion that Espinal turned a blind eye to what was going on because he liked how this website was fattening his company’s bottom line. I also rather suspect that Espinal would never have shut down the website used by America’s Frontline Quacks if it hadn’t been for a reporter sniffing around working on a story about the grift going on. Let’s look at it this way. I see two options. Either Espinal was in on the grift, which he denies, or he honestly never figured out what was going on, in which case he really shouldn’t be running a company like Cadence because he really failed here. Big time. Take your pick regarding which option is more likely to be the correct one.

It’s hard not to conclude exactly the same thing about Ravkoo’s CEO:

The hacker also provided records of 340,000 prescriptions that Ravkoo has filled between November 3, 2020, and September 11, 2021 — amounting to an estimated $8.5 million in drug costs. Forty-six percent of the prescriptions are for hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin, and another 30 percent are for zinc or azithromycin, two other ineffective medications that the SpeakWithAnMD physicians, who America’s Frontline Doctors claims it trains, prescribe in their Covid-19 consultations.

“We take data breaches very seriously,” Ravkoo CEO Alpesh Patel told The Intercept. Patel claims that Ravkoo stopped doing business with SpeakWithAnMD and AFLDS at the end of August because “the volume over there went up crazy, and we didn’t feel comfortable. And we don’t have that much capacity to fill that many prescriptions.” The hacked data shows that they filled hundreds more prescriptions for AFLDS in the first weeks of September. “That might be refills or prescriptions that got stuck and we had to fill it,” Patel claimed.

As is the case for Cadence, I rather suspect that Mr. Patel didn’t shut down the profit train until after a reporter had started sniffing around and showed him the data that had been acquired that showed just how many prescriptions Ravkoo had been filling. I could be wrong about this but rather suspect that I probably am not.

Similarly amusing is the way that at least one of the doctors who did bother to provide some actual telehealth visits and prescriptions invoked what skeptics like to call the Quack Miranda warning:

At least one of the prescribers is aware that medical experts recommend against using these drugs to prevent or treat Covid-19 but prescribed them anyway, according to patient records. One physician included this disclaimer in their consultation notes with several patients: “I, [physician’s name], have a complete understanding of the recent release from the WHO, FDA, CDC, and NIH on March 5th, 2021 as it pertains to the use and prescribing of Hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin. I understand that these two medications have been deemed ‘Highly Not Recommended’ by the for-mentioned [sic] medical governing bodies but are not illegal to prescribe. … I have explained that I will not be held legally or medically responsible for an adverse reaction by this patient should they choose to take them and have explained they will not be able to hold me medically neglectful, pursue any form of malpractice, nor any criminal and civilly [sic] suits.”

Beginning last week, the intake form began showing a similar disclaimer to all patients. “As a potential patient, I acknowledge and understand that the Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and Ivermectin have been deemed ‘Highly Not Recommended’ by the WHO, FDA, CDC, and NIH,” the disclaimer says. “Should a patient choose to not disclose their proper medical history, the clinician cannot be held liable nor can any medical license in any state be reviewed or held accountable.” Patients must check a box that says “I understand” to continue.

Usually, quack Miranda warnings (which nearly all quacks use) say something like, “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.” The above is merely a variant of a quack Miranda warning that seeks to shift the burden for the decision to use quackery over to the patient instead of the doctor. Here’s the thing. Disclaimers with a promise not to sue for malpractice or to complain to the doctor’s state medical board are generally not enforceable. Patients don’t know that, though, and doctors who require patients to sign such forms know that most patients don’t know that.

Even more amusing is the reaction of a representative of SpeakWithAnMD.com, who vehemently denies that his company is antivaccine:

“[SpeakWithAnMD] is not part of the anti-vax movement and we do not oppose vaccinations,” Jim Flinn, a public relations agent working for the site’s parent company, Encore Telemedicine, told The Intercept.

“We do not oppose vaccinations” gives away the game. Notice how, instead of replying in the affirmative (as in, “We strongly support vaccination”), Flinn responded with a negative (“We do not oppose vaccinations”). My guess is that Flinn’s company might not actually be antivaccine, but is more than willing to cater to antivaxxers like those in America’s Frontline Quacks and take their business because money is money and grift is grift.

So is politics, because—surprise! surprise!—right-wing political groups are in on the grift as well! That should have been obvious from the involvement of Dr. Simone Gold, who founded American’s Frontline Quacks last year and is also known for appearing at QAnon rallies. Indeed, her Arizona nonprofit, Free Speech Foundation, was started last year with a million-dollar annual budget and fiscal sponsorship from the Tea Party Patriots Foundation. Dr. Gold was even arrested and charged after the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6.

All of this brings us back to the question about belief versus grift. I’ve been writing about quacks for nearly 20 years now, and my experience has led me to believe that most, if not all, quacks at least start out believing in their quackery. Sure, there are exceptions, such as Kevin Trudeau, who wrote Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You To Know About and almost certainly was in it for the grift all along. However, most quacks at least start out believing. Look at Stanislaw Burzynski, for instance. In the early 1970s he started out doing research that led him (falsely) to believe that he had discovered peptides that were part of the body’s natural anticancer defense system and that he had discovered a highly effective cancer treatment. In 1976 left his university and started practicing, using his “antineoplastons” to treat cancer patients because he was rash, impatient, and disgusted with the slowness of the process of clinical research necessary to determine whether his antineoplastons were effective and safe or not. Over the 45 years since then, he charged more and more for his “cure,” becoming wealthy in the process. He still believed (after all, he kept trying to do clinical trials—badly—to show that his treatment worked) but he also profited. Like America’s Frontline Quacks, too, Burzynski made his money off of “management fees.” (He didn’t charge for the drug, antineoplastons, itself, although he did own a pharmacy that he required his patients to use for all their other treatment-related medications.) Belief and grift can go hand-in-hand.

So it appears to be with America’s Frontline Doctors. I have little doubt that they started out believing that hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, and all the other “miracle cures” for COVID-19 that they were pushing worked. Even better from their perspective, if miracle cures for COVID-19 existed, that would help them argue that neither lockdowns nor mask and vaccine mandates are necessary, a position that fits very well with their right wing, Trump-loving political views. So when did belief turn into grift? Who knows? I suspect that it didn’t take long after that infamous press conference in July 2020, though. Now, they give every appearance of being all about the grift, with belief being secondary. I’ll conclude, though, as I started by noting this: For snake oil salesmen, it usually is about the belief (or at least starts out that way), but it’s also always about the grift.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

119 replies on “It’s always about the grift”

AFLD has been offering telemedicine “consultations” through a company that AFLD says charges $90 per patient (what doctors may get as a percentage of or in addition to that is unclear), plus whatever the cost of filling the prescription turns out to be.

But now that The Intercept has gotten hold of leaked data, suddenly the consult spigot has been turned off, and our Frontline heroes are framing it as an issue of patient privacy. From the AFLD website:

“America’s Frontline Doctors has a trusted relationship with one of our nation’s leading telehealth providers. Through our website, you are able to obtain access to their telehealth physicians.
Recently we were contacted by a journalist who allegedly has been provided with a file containing hacked patient and physician information from an anonymous source. We are investigating this with the greatest rigor possible, and apologize that some of your data may have been put in harm’s way.
Because Patients trust us with their medical needs, we are deploying top cybersecurity experts to audit these alleged claims…

On September 28th, America’s Frontline Doctors was notified that a bad actor allegedly provided patient information to The Intercept. This is an establishment news organization whose founder, Glenn Greenwald, recently quit due to their refusal to publish articles critical of Joe and Hunter Biden.
We are protecting our patients and notifying you immediately. All possible precautions are being taken. Our teams are working diligently to address the authenticity to these claims and continue serving your health.
The website has been temporarily taken down while our experts perform a forensic audit and determine the best path forward We will update you as this situation develops.”

See, it’s all politics.

“Because Patients trust us with their medical needs, we are deploying top cybersecurity experts to audit these alleged claims…”

Suuure you are. Called the FBI yet?

Not the FBI…
Teh Cyber Ninjas of course!
We’re dealing with Simone Gold & Co. after all.
.
Have fun.

It is always about the grift but alties/ woo-meisters enjoy an additional payoff when they hawk their wares or write exposes: the ego boost of being a brave mavericky, Galileo-esque revolutionary riding the tsunami of paradigm shift, adroitly surfing over the tired, old dictums of orthodox, corporate science and its entrenched, compromised lackeys, changing the world.

Indeed, they often ridicule and insult SBM advocates like Orac, SBM contributors, SB sceptics, well-known physicians/ scientists like Drs Fauci, Offit, Hotez and SB experts on the news when many of them haven’t enough background in life sciences to even begin to think about criticising others- in fact, the most vocal I survey haven’t a standard university degree in relevant areas and often, not even a standard degree at all ( Mike Adams has a BS in technical writing; RFK jr’s formal education is primarily legal).

They instead rely upon self promoting adverts to signify their inherent superiority to experts, inflating their value as innovators and disruptors. Studies about the psychology of anti-vaxxers show that they imagine themselves as being different, special and not followers of consensus. I suppose that that ego boost is compensation for other deficiencies they have experienced as non-members of the educated “elite” whom they deprecate whilst decorating their own resumes with ersatz degrees and self-appointed titles that baldly mimic academic terminology. A few alties cite SBM’s failure to cure relatives’ serious illnesses much as they blame vaccines for all manner of unlikely and unverified illnesses- thus, their hatred is not only ego-enhancing but retribution for imagined crimes.

@Tony Ivermectin is, of course, not a protease inhibitor. It is a choloride channel blocker, neurotoxic to worms.
You notice that pharma payments to doctors are public. So go through them for related suspicious activity

Interesting that some claim Ivermectin (protease inhibitor) is bad, you know because its horse paste, and does nothing to help cure/prevent Covid, except it is use to treat parasite infestations in humans and only cost about 20 bucks for a 5 day treatment program.

But Pfizer is in final stages of testing it’s own version of Ivermectin (nicknamed Pfizermectin) (which is a pretense inhibitor) with the same stuff in it but they can charge 100’s of more dollars for it.

reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/pfizer-begins-study-covid-19-antiviral-drug-2021-09-27/

and 700 doctors paid over a million dollars from drug companies to promote all kinds of drugs is ok

propublica.org/article/we-found-over-700-doctors-who-were-paid-more-than-a-million-dollars-by-drug-and-medical-device-companies

if you don’t like propublica try the US government website that tracks this sort of payment and do you own research

openpaymentsdata.cms.gov

Kind of ironic

But Pfizer is in final stages of testing it’s own version of Ivermectin (nicknamed Pfizermectin) (which is a pretense inhibitor)

Sounds like something that would be very helpful, indeed.

Your Reuters link doesn’t mention similarities to ivermectin. It does mention the Pfizer is in competition with Merck to create a covid anti-viral. Merck who actually make ivermectin in the US, so presumably wouldn’t need to make a new one if it worked. It’s then a very short step to determine that Pfizers anti-viral doesn’t work the same as ivermectin either. Hint, not all protease inhibitors are the same.

Now, I found all that out in ten minutes or so. I do hope that you aren’t one of those anti-vaxxers who have done thousands of hours of ‘research’ online?

Oh ffs “protease”

“Ivermectin is a semisynthetic anthelminthic agent; it binds selectively and with strong affinity to glutamate-gated chloride ion channels which occur in invertebrate nerve and muscle cells. This leads to increased permeability of cell membranes to chloride ions then hyperpolarization of the nerve or muscle cell, and death of the parasite.”

And the nidus is…. Tyler Durden!!! Come on up, Tyler!

The paper, in Future Virology, proceeds from extant in vitro work (PMC 7129059; Kylie Wagstaff again!) to go to the real deal: in silico. Given that this was published back in March, I’m wondering how long it took for somebody to suddenly put 2 and 2 together and trudge over to Pubmed.

The publisher, Future Science Group, has previously sold titles to OMICS, which I’m willing to construe as adjacency on the totem pole.

Tony, how is a viral infection like a parasitic infestation?

How is a virus like a parasite?

Do they activate the same parts of the immune system?
Do the drugs that treat parasites use the same mechanism of action as the drugs used to treat viruses?
Do all drugs used to treat parasites work on all parasites?

I suppose readingcomprehension is not your strong point. The Reuters article is about an antiviral drug, something that Ivermectin is not.
Even I do understand that, even while English isn’t my mothertongue.

Renate, see my comment just above and glance at the links. They explain where the notion that ivermectin is an antiviral came from.

Early in the pandemic, rheumatoid arthritis sufferers and others with autoimmune diseases were often unable to obtain hydroxychloroquine because it was sold out.

The Canadian Gov’t, early in the hydroxychloroquine craze made a mass purchase of the drug to help ensure that those people who needed it would be able to get the drug.

There have been a number of very dodgy papers on invermectin especially the Elgazzar et al paper and that one from Argentina. I was a bit bewildered as to why they came out. I clearly had no idea of the size of the grift.

BTW we may have a new one on the scene. / Some problems in a study of Nitazoxanide as a treatment for Covid-19

I am guessing for America’s Frontline Doctors it started off as all about the politics. I suspect it was less a belief in the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin and more about supporting Trump – this in itself is because Trumpism aligned with libertarian thinking. Of course it morphed into grift because it always does and in any case Simone Gold has some legal bills to pay. Down in the bowels of the movement there is plenty of anti-vaccine rhetoric, more because vaccines can be mandated than because you will catch the autisms from them.

The result of this libertarian take on public health makes me view libertarian movements even less favourably. It strikes me that libertarianism is all about selfishness.

I was thinking the same. One of the docs I ran into early in this mess, who was pushing for both drugs and touting AFD, had a Hillary punching bag and a maga hat in his office. Fortunately, he was a vascular surgeon so I could avoid him 99% of the time. He was no ID expert by far but he should have known enough to ask questions as he saw both drugs fail time and time again. We even used HCQ in the clinic as prevention early on before we had anything else and it didn’t do a thing. Same for hospital stay, same for prevention of deterioration. He knew; he saw the same emails as everyone else-he just didn’t care.

IMHO you’re absolutely right. As Orac wrote: “if miracle cures for COVID-19 existed, that would help them argue that neither lockdowns nor mask and vaccine mandates are necessary”. The keep-the-economy-chugging-along demand is the starting point, which leads to the COVID denialism, which leads to the search for a “simple” miracle cure, which leads to more grift. I say “more” because the whole right-wing / right-libertarian ideology is a big grift of a sort to begin with.

You see a parallel to this is climate-change denialism. The argument there is basically ‘if all this science about the climate were true, then we’d have to do things that would disrupt and transform the economy, and since we can’t do that, then that science must be wrong.’

Republicans (generally) don’t believe in public health because they don’t believe in public anything.

Tony might find it very interesting to know that there are multiple classes of proteases in nature, and a variety of different ways to target the “bad” proteases via drugs, whether it’s to treat viral infections, parasitic disease, cardiovascular disorders, cancer etc.

This article gives an idea of the complexity of the subject.

https://medcraveonline.com/PPIJ/proteases-naturersquos-destroyers-and-the-drugs-that-stop-them.html

If treating/preventing Covid-19 was as simple as throwing any protease inhibitor at it, we’d have already repurposed one or more of the myriad anti-HIV or anti-hepatitis C protease inhibitors already on the market, they’d be selling like hotcakes and the pandemic would be over – no need for Pfizer to spend a ton of money in hopes of getting a new drug approved.

the pretense was
the drug companies giving over 700 doctors, millions to push their drugs or did you all miss that,

As to the grift, to hack a computer with confidential medical records and release them to a third party is ok with you (Hipaa) , but you all went ballistic when wikileaks posted a bunch of emails about Hillary.

Question, when you all get up in the morning which face do you wash?

To be beholden yo HIPAA, this operation had to be a Covered Entity. I doubt they were getting Medicare money. Nice try, though.

My guess? That list is in St Petersburg by now.

Meanwhile in countries which are not USA! USA! USA!, where our healthcare systems (yes, we have actual systems) run very differently and we are not much bothered about Hillary Clinton…

Still wondering what your “interesting” sidelines have to do with ivermectin and HCQ grift.

Did you get a chance to read up on protease inhibitors? Learn anything?

*I was never fussed about the sanctity of Hillary’s e-mails. Oh, and if patient privacy is so important to you, maybe you can spare a little outrage about the apparent carelessness with which these AFLD-related records were kept, while wondering whether they were accessible to parties intent on doing genuine harm with the information (as opposed to reporters defending the interests of these patients).

As to the grift, to hack a computer with confidential medical records and release them to a third party is ok with you (Hipaa) ,

When did we say this was OK, Hipaa or not?
(or who is this “we”, anyway?)

but you all went ballistic when wikileaks posted a bunch of emails about Hillary.

Uh? We weren’t the ones who insisted on, what? Nine inquiries over 5 years into this.

When you push more (your) garbage to help Americans die quicker, how do you wash your face? Just asking Tony. That’s just who you are as I understand it. Love your true comments. Thanks.

Slightly off-topic, but it’s being widely reported today that YouTube has banned Mercola and Robert Kennedy, Jr., and claims it is expanding its prohibition of a wide variety of vaccine misinformation.

Rejoicing by reality based people. The banned it seems are not too pleased ( CHD, AoA, Mercola, Bigtree, Null, Wright etc).
I probably ( indirectly) own a great deal of their parent company’s Alphabet stock ( via a mutual fund) and am glad that they followed FaceBook and Twitter in this action.

It’s a PRIVATE company and they can determine who can use their free service to circulate videos including people who earn money because of this advertisement. The disgruntled can sell their stock and not use their services. There are alternatives.

Suppose I created a website that collected travel stories, wouldn’t I have the right to pick and choose which stories are appropriate, perhaps excluding whatever I deemed racist, sexist, homophobic, obscene, violent, based on lies or stupid? Why not? I’m paying for it and have my name on it.

Also taken down by YT for vax disinfo: (surprise, surprise) videos from the Russian government. Putin is angry that YT is throwing a small wrench into his continuing attempts to destroy Western democracies. His allies on Fox News will probably pick up the slack. The Daily Beast reported:

One Fox News insider succinctly described the anti-COVID-mandate segments and vaccine-resistant commentary as “great for ratings.” Another current Fox employee said the numbers clearly demonstrated that there are vanishingly fewer subjects these days that get “our viewers more excited or engaged than” those kinds of segments.

The primary focus of the DB article is how opposition to vax mandates is now a (the?) central focus of GOp fundraising emails:

The day after the announcement, the Republican National Committee began blasting out emails and text messages asking supporters to reach into their pockets to help fund a coming legal challenge against the supposedly “authoritarian” mandate.

Interesting that the BIG grift is on the side of the drug companies and doctors.

As I posted 700 doctors get paid over a million dollars a year by drug companies to promote their drugs, over 2,000 are paid over 500,000 dollars to promote the drugs. And yes it has a effect on how doctors prescribe drugs.

nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/how-drug-marketing-may-influence-prescriptions

openpaymentsdata.cms.gov

Tony, you’re a dumbfuck and a worm. You just barf things up, and when they’re shown to be horseshit, you try to pretend that the payload wasn’t the payload, and proclaim victory. Now you’re just babbling in “No, you are” mode, or whatever psychological construct your subconscious is actually assemble to deflect failure. I suspect it’s well trained.

The statistics you quote are not in the first link you posted, and if they can be derived from the second link, you give no indication of how they were derived.

@Tony

As of 2018, there were over 985,000 practicing physicians in the United States–the actions of 700 just isn’t enormous news. Nor do you say if the money mentioned is the total for 700 docs or for each doc. At any rate I’ve been taking my pills for 25 years now and never yet been prescribed a name brand drug–the ones generally pushed by Pharma. Nope, just a bunch of cheap generics for me. All of $20/mo total, even w/o insurance.

So, unless you can identify these 700 Pharms shills so we can actually ask them some questions, save your anger for the quacks that this post is actually about.

You’re being just the least bit…careless in your claims, Tony.

Nowhere in your ProPublica link does it state that any physicians were shown to have earned 500K a year from drug or medical device companies, let alone $1 million a year. They reported that one doctor had earned $1 million in a four-year period from consulting and promotional talks for drug makers, and that a total of 2,500 physicians had been paid an average of $100,000 a year over a five-year period. 2,500 physicians represents 0.22% of the docs in the United States, assuming they were looking only at American physicians.

That money isn’t chicken feed* – but there’s no evidence they were paid for pushing ineffective non-approved meds, like the “frontline doctors” reported to have garnered millions of dollars by exploiting patients (numbering in the thousands? hundreds of thousands?) during the pandemic.

*as for what has been a relatively common practice of accepting “meals” from drug or device makers, I confess that not too many years ago, a company pitching a cytopathology device gave a lunchtime presentation at our hospital, in the course of which they handed out sandwiches (meh) and chocolate chip cookies (not bad). I however recommended against hospital purchase of the device, which I hope lessens the taint of corruption.

In other news, Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green says he won’t urge teammate Andrew Wiggins to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Wiggins’ refusal to date (he tried and failed to get a religious exemption from the NBA) violates San Francisco policy requiring vaccination to attend large indoor gatherings, and would mean he won’t play in or get paid for home games he misses. Green was eloquent on the subject:

“You say we live in the land of the free — well, you’re not giving anyone freedom because you’re making people do something essentially without making them, you’re making them do something. And that goes against everything America stands for, supposedly stands for.”

And there you go. You can find it in the constitution – Americans can’t be made to do stuff.

I hope that’s crystal clear to everyone.

well, you’re not giving anyone freedom because you’re making people do something essentially without making them, you’re making them do something.

It’s no less eloquent than Sylvester Stallone and he got guilded for it all the time.

He’s saying :” I don’t have to take it but I can’t do anything if I don’t so it is not a choice/freedom.”

“Your body, your choice.” — Ted Cruz on vaccine mandates

Yeah, Green doesn’t mind losing Wiggins for home games, but if it was Steph Curry, Draymond would have to urge him to get the shot because he wants to win. ;- )

But seriously, Draymond Green is only slightly less of a “character” no sane person would follow for serious comments on anything but basketball than Kyrie “Flat Earth” Irving.

You heartless bastard. I’m pretty sure most of them were not wearing the asbestos undies. Good on you for such a great frontal, and back door attack. Now that most them are toast, gg. Anywho, gtg because thunder. And methane hail. l8r, m8.

So everyone here is good/fine with someone hacking a tela-med site and releasing patient information and as a second hack of a drug outlets, prescriptions for persons including addresses/dob/phone number.

“The Intercept is not publishing any individual patient data and has taken steps to secure the data.
The hacked data includes information on 281,000 patients created in the Cadence Health
The hacker also provided records of 340,000 prescriptions that Ravkoo has filled between November 3, 2020, and September 11, 2021
The two months’ worth of patient records that The Intercept has access to show that AFLDS referred over 255,000 people to speak with physicians in order to get Covid-19 treatments.”
https://theintercept.com/2021/09/28/covid-telehealth-hydroxychloroquine-ivermectin-hacked/
Did you notice that the Intercept has all the records individual patient data. I would bet there are IT departments for hospitals, doctors all over the
US having very long days and nights trying to make patches and upgrading software.
Aarno
their are about 1 million doctors in the US
returning to the bigger grift
Pri as to the statistics to doctor payments from drug companies
9.12 billion in Doctor payments according to the US government (2020)
https://openpaymentsdata.cms.gov
next search for each company (type in pfizer, merik etc.) or you can search by doctor, institution etc. This will take a little time as there are multiple pfizer divisions etc.

Once you get to one of the Pfizer, Moderna etc company. you can then apply filters type in a doctors name etc.
https://openpaymentsdata.cms.gov/company/100000000286
you can also search using time parameters as well. This not a anti vaccine/anti big pharma website.
Interesting that bacon only got a sandwich and failed to mention the research, how drug marketing my influence prescriptions.
Narad

No I’m not OK with it but you still have failed to address the underlying point-it proves these bozos were ripping people off and exposes their overall motive for their outrageous actions during a public health crisis.

It’s amazing to me that, in the next sentences, you launch back into a profit motive argument about “Big Farmah” without even a hint of irony.

I wonder; and this is a genuine question: Would you feel as strongly about how awful this hack was if it was a mail-in/remote morning after pill/contraceptive operation? What if they were issuing mifepristone or misoprostol for women at 28 weeks, would you be as angry that they got exposed?

So everyone here is good/fine with someone hacking a tela-med site [sic]

You tried that one two days ago, it was not SpeakWithAnMD that was breached, and you apparently are unable to successfully copy and paste. Shouldn’t you be eating Play-Doh or something?

It’s “interesting” how every time it’s pointed out that Tony has posted incorrect information, he ignores his errors* and moves on to other false or grossly distorted claims.

His latest figure for “Doctor payments” includes reported payments from drug and device companies to teaching hospitals for research. So now he’s trying to equate all company-funded research conducted by teaching hospitals to docs who promote phony Covid-19 cures for profit.

*I’m probably being overly generous in calling them errors. We’re getting into deliberate lie territory at this point.

Thr uses very broad definition of doctor. Do your research yourself, and report the result.

SELDANE (terfenadine)
FEN-PHEN (fenfluramine/dexfenfluramine and phentermine)
POSICOR (mibefradil)
BAYCOL (cerivastatin)
VIOXX (rofecoxib)
BEXTRA (valdecoxib)
MERIDIA (sibutramine)
AVASTIN (bevacizumab)
Accutane (isotretinoin)
Cylert (pemoline)
Darvon & Darvocet (propoxyphene)
Duract (bromfenac)
Ergamisol (Levamisole)
Mylotarg (Gemtuzumab Ozogamicin)
Vioxx (rofecoxib)

what do all these have in common. These drug were approved by the FDA only later to be stopped for safety reason. Some of these drugs were on the market for less than a year, but together made the drug companies over 50 Billion dollars in NET profits. One of these drugs had over 20 million people who had been taking them.

From what I can find between 15 and 18 Billion dollars were spent on marketing/promoting of these drugs and paying doctors to promote them to other doctors (I am sure the numbers are probably a lot higher, and that’s just based on marketing vs sales of their other drugs).

Some of the drugs were stopped because they resulted in thousands of deaths, some were stopped because they didn’t do anything for the patient and some were found to make the condition even worse. In the case of Vioxx, it resulted in over 27,000 heart attack deaths. Doctors played a big role in the prescribing these drugs and were paid well for doing that. Just go to that government website for the companies that promoted those drugs and find out who (doctor) was paid to promote those drugs.

From what I can tell from the Front Line Doctors and the prescriptions that were filled totaled about 20 million dollars including the prescription cost, so a drop in the healthcare bucket and Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine are not likely to kill people. How much did the doctors that promoted those drugs that were pulled from the market make, because they actually killed people?

Now if you were to compare the ‘grifts’ of the Front Line Doctors to the ‘grift’ of the drug companies, it would be like comparing a splinter in your finger or having you leg amputated. At best 1 million people were influence by FLD but 50-75 million people and billions of dollars were promoted by doctors that prescribed medication that didn’t work, made things worse and in thousands of cases killed people. I am not defending the FLD and at this point in the Covid pandemic who knows if they are wrong (it doesn’t look like they are) but perspective is lacking is lacking on who has the bigger grift?

Merck just made an announcement of their antiviral pill that reduces hospitalization/deaths by 50%, this was a result of their antiviral drug Ivermectin research. So again at this point in the pandemic, who knows but the truth will come out.

You listed Vioxx twice (really should still be on the market), Accutane is still on the market, Mylotarg was returned to market in 2017, and I don’t really give a shit about doing the rest of your homework for you, Tony.

Mr. Bacon
you once again didn’t even look at the website on openpayments and see that the payments are broken into General payments and Research payments.
you would have found that it is broken down by year
it is broken down by research or general payments
by recipient type Physicians or Hospitals
and by nature of payment consulting fee, honorarily, gift, entertainment, food & beverages (including bacon sandwiches) travel lodging, education, charitable contribution, royalty or license, grant, or space rental.

So once again “payments from drug and device companies to teaching hospitals for research” you failed to do proper research into ALL the categories of payments and then tell me its an error on my part.

My point to all this is/was who ‘grifts’ better (and make bigger dollars) the front line doctors or the drug companies

Your point is silly. AFLD are tiny in comparison to a group consisting of all pharmaceutical companies. You might as well say that mice aren’t that bad because the shit they leave in your kitchen isn’t a big as an elephant’s.

I’d rather not have either thanks.

Pharmaceutical companies organize conferences about their products. Doctors get speaking fees. This is legal, as long as conference is actually educational, Prosecutors dp not like bribing attempts, like resturant location,offering alcohol and participation of relatives,

Mirriam-Webster

“grift”: to obtain (money or property) illicitly (as in a confidence game)

Drug companies have to comply with laws and regulations designed to protect the public. They are obliged to demonstrate that their products are safe and effective for particular medical conditions.

Merc sell Ivermectin but not for Covid-19. No doubt they would be happy to do so if they could, but they have no evidence to support its use for Covid-19.

Selling a drug which has not been properly tested and approved fits the above definition for “grift”.

I can’t understand why they make a fuss when phone scammers steal millions of dollars by deceiving elderly people.*

It’s a drop in the bucket compared to what big investment firms have gotten away with on Wall Street.

*Tony might feel differently if _he_ or a relative was a victim. But we could easily distract him. “Look over there, Big Pharma!”

As to elephants and mice, I would prefer mice as they wouldn’t do as much damage as elephants.

People are picking low hanging fruit when they complain about FLD etc. The real target should be the drug companies and their over priced medicines (do you really think that you should be paying 400-600 dollars for an epipen, that cost less then 20 dollars to make?) .
Bextra yielded one of the largest criminal fines for a U.S. company, as the Pfizer division that made it was fined $1.95 billion after admitting to acting with ‘intent to defraud or mislead’ when promoting its drug. Why do people think these drug companies are some non-malevolent companies acting only to help man/woman/person kind?

Aarno
if you actually did research into the issue at the government website, look at how much money was given and what category.
“nature of payment consulting fee, honorarily, gift, entertainment, food & beverages (including bacon sandwiches) travel lodging, education, charitable contribution, royalty or license, grant, or space rental

DB
“It’s “interesting” how every time it’s pointed out that Tony has posted incorrect information, he ignores his errors* and moves on to other false or grossly distorted claims.

I think that you’re are deflecting the issue of ‘phone scammers’ which is an illegal practice but I would be happy if they were all sent to Afghanistan (along with tele-marketers)

As to what Wall Street does and I will let Leigh Jackson answer your question. (insert Wall Street instead of drug companies)(keep in mind that drug companies have stock in Wall street as well, like Moderna was a 50 dollars stock 20 months ago and is now going for well over 300 dollars. It will be interesting to watch the battle between Merck’s covid pill and Moderna’s shot.

“grift”: to obtain (money or property) illicitly (as in a confidence game)

Drug companies have to comply with laws and regulations designed to protect the public. They are obliged to demonstrate that their products are safe and effective for particular medical conditions.”

Wall street hires well paid attorneys and accountants to walk the line, just like big drug companies hire well paid doctors to walk that line.

DB your the one easily distracted.

Leigh
I wasn’t aware that Ivermectin was not approved for human use and if you’re going down that road, how many drugs are approved for use in a particular case, later found not to be effect but then repurposed/rebranded for another medical condition and were found effective.
pharmoutsourcing.com/Featured-Articles/345076-Accelerating-Drug-Development-Through-Repurposing-Repositioning-and-Rescue

You clearly are aware that Ivermectin is not approved for Covid-19 – not least by Merck.

Your link doesn’t work. Your question is unclear.

In other news…

Forbes, today:
Major US airlines, American, Frontier, Alaska, JetBlue and Hawaiian now have joined United in mandating vaccines for employees ( Delta and SW have not). A senator is trying to mandate vaccines or negative tests for passengers.

It was only a matter of time. Whilst anti-vaxxers/ freedom advocates will shriek about the ‘injustice’ of it, I imagine that employees will breathe a sigh of relief because it can’t have been pleasant to interact closely with hundreds of passengers daily and cart their used cups, bottles and tissues away, not knowing who is protected or not, including their co-workers.

Last July and this August, I flew United and felt entirely safe – 2020 flights were nearly empty and this year I was vaccinated – but also because the crew did such a great job keeping things clean and enforcing mask/ other rules. The passengers weren’t unruly and I quietly watched Twin Peaks’ pilot episode on the console and the incredible, unfurling landscape below. Free biscuits. Both flights this year were filled to capacity and arrived early.

Woo-meisters I survey vow never to fly again. Good. Miss out, live in the past, drive around and sleep in your car.

I’m planning to be disappointed with the food service on AA when returning with Augie if people would update their apartment listings. The obsession (F snack) with (tray meal) hard-boiled eggs is also a bit puzzling. UA seems to be doing better on this front.

My God, man. Why do you talk so nonchalantly about getting on planes? In the event that the plane should lose all four engines simultaneously, you are going to crash into the ground like a fucking dart. That can has all the aerodynamics of a baby grand. Think of your cat, which might actually live if not confined within the bursted into a ball of flames plane. You inconsiderate monster.

Just a simple cat. A tabby cat. Trapped within a flamming husk of burning falling plane.

Think about it. I know I did and now I can not sleep again.

Talking about changing the subject of the Grift.

I didn’t think that Orac liked people to ‘thread jack”.

Tony don’t expect to get intelligent well reasoned, well sourced responses from this group. Here is some background information that was posted to a site by these same ‘intellectuals” hosted by….. who want an open and factual discussion on vaccines. The internet never forgets.

Denise: The way to do it is to set up a fictitious email address.Start by setting one up on your existing broadband provider: AT&T, Comcast, and the rest of ‘em give you five or more email addresses of your choice. Create a totally fictitious name and then an address that reflects that name e.g. John Doe and [email protected]
Next, get an address on a free service provider such as Yahoo or Hotmail or whatever. Since most of these ask for your “other” email address as proof of identity, give them the one on your broadband provider. They will send a confirmation email to that address giving you your starting password. Third, after about a week of using your new fictitious address in various places that let you sign up for comments, you can be sure it’s working, so then go in and delete the address you created on your broadband service. Typically they deactivate the address immediately and then take a month to free up that slot for re-use. This step ensures that your Yahoo or Hotmail address becomes un-traceable back to your broadband provider. Fourth, wait a month for the original fictitious name to completely purge from your broadband provider.Fifth: Now you’re home free to get onto the anti-vax boards and any other objectionable boards you want to go after, and make all manner of noise to make them look ridiculous and drive away the undecideds. Yeee-hawww, round ‘em up!

About factual discussion about vaccines: I cannot remember you stating any fact, but you can stilll suprise us. I do not hold my breath, though.

Leigh

I am sorry the link no longer works.
I have others but they are limited in scope.

the biggest case of all is Thalidomide which caused horrendous birth defect. was reapproved as a treatment for some cancers by the FDA

canceractive.com/article/repurposing-old-off-patent-drugs-as-new-and-effective-cancer-treatments

blog.ted.com/9-old-drugs-that-learned-new-tricks-the-head-of-the-national-institutes-of-health-shares-medicines-that-turned-out-to-have-multiple-uses/

Thalidomide repurposed?

It was found not to be safe for the developing embryo if taken during pregnancy. For conditions where it is found to be safe and effective, assuming possible side effects are made known to and are acceptable to patients, where’s the problem?

Thalidomide was the spur to more stringent standards of drug testing.
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/how-the-thalidomide-scandal-led-to-safer-drugs#Key-regulatory-reforms

Kay tries to insinuate – Horrors of horrors- malfeasance on my part by not quoting or linking to the actual comment years ago which was TO ME not BY ME.
A commenter** suggested that we do the nonsense quoted here and I REPLIED why that is totally wrong AS it has sceptics working against themselves since they advocate both reality and fact driven positions. In fact, some altie blog/ website quoted the same insinuating that ORAC HIMSELF said this this AND tthen Orac wrote a post about it , linking to the altie, the commenter and MY RESPONSE.

I’m not sure what year it was but I recall that it was at the end of May.
Other regulars here can certainly find the entire original exchange/ altie response/ Orac’s post.

See how scoffers represent information?

** who mispells my name and writes in an entirely differenr style than I do

Yeah, posting “Denise”‘s advice to pose as especially clueless antivaxers on antivax sites has been a staple of the woo brigades.

What they fail to mention is that suggestion was condemned here.

In appearing laughably ignorant and dismissive of good evidence that refutes their beliefs, antivaxers have never required outside assistance.

An outside troll could never generate nonsense remotely as ridiculous as what genuine antivaxers spew on a daily basis.

Kay tries to insinuate – Horrors of horrors- malfeasance on my part by not quoting or linking to the actual comment years ago which was TO ME not BY ME.

I’m rather confused by all this, but it’s easy enough to find g174’s comments. On G–le, search:

site:respectfulinsolence.com "g724"

Right. I was able to find the original comment by G ( see my comment below) but after alties wrote about his suggestion as if Orac endorsed it, I couldn’t find Orac’s subsequent post about the whole thing . I may try to find it by binging G because IIRC he responded ( after 25 Apr 2012)

I found it!
I think the title, The Refusers attack Orac’s readers, threw me off when I searched there previously ( I looked by month after finding the original by g )- I did mention that it was in the end of May 2012.

I was able to find a few altie sites which include this quote:
–Truth Wiki ( a project of Mike Adams’ Natural News ) under Truth Wiki.org/ David Gorski ( with other libellous mis-info about him)
— Lew Rockwell .com April 2012
notice that is addressed to “denise @36” ( ‘@ 36’ left out here)

I’ve been trying to find Orac’s post about it ( regulars** here are better at this than I am) so it has to be BEFORE 2012. I distinctly recall end of May-ish/ early June?

** Narad, Julian, Bacon, Chris et al

Although I wasn’t able to find Orac’s post about this , I DID find the comment to Denise @ 76:
it was by g724 on 25 April 2012 on an entry called Annals of I’m not anti-vaccine part 10… and my response a comment or two later. At that time, comments were numbered so it is towards the end of 100 or so comments. Orac’s post is later ( obviously) : I recall because I was quoted ( first time!)

If you sort through old comments, you’ll read some of the great commenters who have passed on or moved on.

Leigh
from my original post
“how many drugs are approved for use in a particular case, later found not to be effective but then repurposed/rebranded for another medical condition and were found effective.”

and my second post

“was reapproved as a treatment for some cancers by the FDA”

yet you said it was.

“Thalidomide repurposed?”

no doubt that it lead to more stringent standards which is a deflection of my post that many drugs are found to be ineffective/dangerous in one treatment but have other benefits against other issues.

As to Ivermectin it may or may not work, time will tell, as I stated

“at this point in the Covid pandemic who knows if they are wrong or right (it doesn’t look like they are) but perspective is lacking on who has the bigger grift?”

I linked to other sites (sorry that the first link was broken) that contained the same information on drugs (over 30) that were reapproved or repurposed, you made no comment.

And now back to the original point of this whole post on RI.

‘Bextra yielded one of the largest criminal fines for a U.S. company, as the Pfizer division that made it was fined $1.95 billion after admitting to acting with ‘intent to defraud or mislead’ when promoting its drug.”

and I doubt if anyone will be charged/fined with the information from the Intercept.

going back to your post

“grift”: to obtain (money or property) illicitly (as in a confidence game)

Drug companies have to comply with laws and regulations designed to protect the public. They are obliged to demonstrate that their products are safe and effective for particular medical conditions.”

Who has the bigger ‘grift’

“As to Ivermectin it may or may not work”

It does not work. Not even in civets.Trust me on this one.

Thalidomide was never approved by FDA for morning sickness, so it was not repurposed (if one use the technical meaning) for cancer.

Going back to my post and on topic, Ivermectin pushers are here the biggest grifters. Ivermectin has not been demonstrated to be a safe and effective treatment for Covid-19. No less than Merck say so.

Ivermectin doesn’t work. I say again: it DOES NOT work. I’m now up to over three dozen patients who were taking it, didn’t get the vaccine, and got COVID. It doesn’t work to prevent, it doesn’t work early in the course, it doesn’t work when they’re sick as snot. It doesn’t work in the young, the middle-aged, or the old. I’ve seen it all. It doesn’t work. Move on.

Ivermectin does work. I say again: it DOES work. I’m now up to over three dozen patients who were taking it, didn’t get the vaccine, and didn’t get COVID. It does work to prevent, it does work early in the course, it does work when they’re sick as snot. It does work in the young, the middle-aged, or the old. I’ve seen it all. It does work. Move on.

You show your empirical data, I’ll show mine, anecdotard.

@Quasidomo How many patients you actually had ? Did you have a control group ?
Why does best of RCTs not show this effect ?

Aarno
“so it was not repurposed (if one use the technical meaning) for cancer”
Read what I wrote:
“and my second post
“was reapproved as a treatment for some cancers by the FDA”

Leigh
‘Bextra yielded one of the largest criminal fines for a U.S. company, as the Pfizer division that made it was fined $1.95 billion after admitting to acting with ‘intent to defraud or mislead’ when promoting its drug.”

Pfizer ADMITTED to acting with ‘INTENT TO DEFRAUD OR MISLEAD”

From NPR, hardly an anti vax news organization
npr.org/sections/health-shots/2009/09/pfizer_whistleblower_tells_his.html

From the whistle blowers own words and part of the indictment.

“He first complained to management about aggressive promotion of Bextra far beyond the uses approved by FDA
He said you could only achieve management’s goals by selling Bextra for unapproved uses.

And guess what, Pfizer mentioned the $2.3 billion settlement this past January (2009) in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, in which it said it was taking a $2.3 billion charge against earnings related to lawsuits.
So every taxpayer in the US helped Pfizer pay the fine and with the bonus of getting to keep the NET profit off of Bextra,

you posted”

“grift”: to obtain (money or property) illicitly (as in a confidence game)

How is what Pfizer did (“promotion of Bextra far beyond the uses approved by FDA” and “selling Bextra for unapproved uses.”) not a grift by your definition, and in the billion dollar range.

I am aware of Pfizer/Bextra.

Who said it was not grift? Not I.

It was disgraceful and they were properly punished.

On topic: “Hawkers of Ivermectin…”

Not Merck, maker of Ivermectin.

Because it doesn’t work for Covid-19.

So the greatest grifters on topic are not drug companies.

REPEAT: Greatest grifters of Ivermectin for Covid-19 are not drug companies.

They have to show that it is safe and effective and they can’t do so.

So people:

DO NOT TAKE IVERMECTIN FOR COVID-19!

You are getting ripped off.

Worse still you are putting your health at risk.

@Tony Interesting thing is that Pfizer get punished for repurposing Bextra, Does same thing apply to companies selling ivermectin for COVID ?
If somebody uses ivermectin for COVID, he or she obviously believes that it is effective. So somebody is misleading here.
We both agree that thalidomide is not an example of succesful repurposing.

@Aarno:
“If somebody uses ivermectin for COVID, he or she obviously believes that it is effective.”

Let’s suppose someone uses it, and the person believes that they cured COVID by doing so.

Let’s further suppose that they actually have clinical evidence that they actually were ill with COVID which they used Ivermectin for.

May be placebo effect, just like mRNA or engineered vector viruses, only less harmful.

Vaccines does have a placebo control, and surpass it by wide margin. Placebo effect could mean that patients healed without any intervention. This is really safe course of action.

The ‘topic’ is about snake oil salesmen.

You at least acknowledge that Bextra was bad but as to them being properly punished, it wasn’t even close. Pfizer’s NET profit over Bextra was over 5 BILLION DOLLARS. They got fined just under 2 billion plus they got to write off the 2 billion dollar fine from their taxes (which every taxpayer had to make up), so they only had to pay a fine of about 1 billion dollars plus a set aside of 900 million (which they also got to write off) to pay the families of people they KILLED (over 60,000 DEATHS). So they NETTED over 3 billion dollars, no body went to jail, even the people who signed off on the fraudulent reports, Not bad profit for any company, and killing 60,000 people I guess is just the cost of doing business.

The next thing is you claim that Ivermectin ” Ivermectin has not been demonstrated to be a safe and effective treatment for Covid-19″

You pose two different things number one, Ivermectin has not demonstrated to be safe, the FDA would dispute you claim that it is not safe. As it is a well known prescribed medication.

Your second part ” Ivermectin has not been demonstrated to be am ……effective treatment for Covid-19″ which may or may not be true (but at this point is looking like that it is not effective, which is what I have stated since the beginning post.).

If the people who choose to believe in Ivermectin want to spend 90-200 dollars of their own money to buy the stuff, that is on them, it is safe to take and again “its effectiveness is in question”, How many doctors and patients spent the money on Bextra and over 30 other drugs that were pulled from the market because they turned out not to be effective or not safe. I would bet the families of the over 60,000 that died because of Bextra would give you an argument about how bad the big pharma companies really are.

nbcnews.com/health/health-news/new-drugs-found-cause-side-effects-years-after-approval-n757526

I am pretty sure that there are 100’s things that you have spent your money on that aren’t as effective or as good or maybe even harmful ……..

Not going to quibble over the word “properly”. Take it.

Ivermectin has not been demonstrated to be a safe and effective treatment for Covid-19. That’s a SIMPLE FACT. Merck, the makers, say it not suitable for that use. A drug company saying that its own product is not suitable for use yet you would allow them to sell it. Beautiful.

You (an anonymous bloke on the internet) keep saying it is safe to take for Covid-19. Blow it out of your ass.

Back to Bextra again. Make your mind up. Should or should not drug companies be allowed to sell drugs which they do or do not believe are safe and effective to the public?

Or is it only if you are not a drug company that you can dump the entire responsibility for safety and effectiveness of medical treatments on the public?

“I am pretty sure that there are 100’s things that you have spent your money on that aren’t as effective or as good or maybe even harmful”

Mind-blowingly stupid even by your own standards.

“You (an anonymous bloke on the internet) keep saying it is safe to take for Covid-19. Blow it out of your ass.”

Wow that was a well reasoned argument.

“Back to Bextra again. Make your mind up. Should or should not drug companies be allowed to sell drugs which they do or do not believe are safe and effective to the public?”

Bextra was neither “safe nor effective” that was according to the FDA but that drug, made Pfizer ……. BILLIONS of dollars even after it was pulled from the market and even after the 2 BILLION dollar fine and 1 BILLION dollars that was set aside to compensate the victims of their “GRIFT”

Yet you and other on this site want to defend those same companies, those same companies that want to charge 400-600 for an Epipen that cost under 20 dollars to make (and at the price of 20 dollars, still makes the holder of the patent millions of dollars) That same drug company lobbied the congress (to the tune of 30 MILLION dollars) to mandate Epipen in every government supported public school and every publicly supported EMT/RESCUE Squad, but only has a shelf life of 18 months.

Ivermecton is safe to consume, its’ safety record is understood, as to it effectiveness against prevention of Covid can be questioned (as I have stated, it doesn’t look like it does anything to prevent covid.) I repeat it is safe to take, but is it effective against Covid, probably NOT. As to Merck, it is still selling Ivermecton

Obviously reading and comprehension skills are lacking on your part. Yet you still want to DEFEND drug companies, who’s profits are in the BILLIONS OF DOLLARS, who sell drugs with known limitations, to an uniformed public, and want to ‘go after” hawkers of an relative harmless drug as somehow big time “grifters”. As I have stated in the past perspective on the “grift” is important. If people want to spend their money on Ivermecton that is their decision, unless you now want to control how people spend their money, as I stated I would bet there are things that you have spent money on things that are just as stupid, non productive or down right dangerous.

Just a question Leigh have you taken money (either indirectly or in a research grant from a drug company) ?

as I stated I would bet there are things that you have spent money on things that are just as stupid, non productive or down right dangerous.

And just how much are you spending on HughesNet? Per post? Poor pernicious thing.

https://www.starlink.com/

That would be a shameless plug if we didn’t give equal time to our competit …. fuck it. your moment of zen https://youtu.be/mxhiAxudQZs?t=39

“down right dangerous”

“immensely complex and high risk” You don’t say, bug boy? Got your engines yet? Tony? Congrats on the grand daughter. She’s kinda wrinkly is she not? Bad Genes? Try Tommy Hilfingers to match the mess out of sight out of mind. Sexy. Great score on Shatner. You wannabe fag.

Ivermectin is not shown to be effective for COVID. Pfizer was punished for off label use of Bextra. As I asked before, does this apply to companies selling ivermectin for COVID ? Or a certain doctors’ group doing same ?

I gave up after asking my last question. Realised it was pointless.

Returned with minimal expectation but you gave me a great laugh with your question.

I don’t believe that you are not a snake-oil merchant.

The subject which you don’t seem too interested in discussing. Seems you want to talk a lot about drugs. Not I. No particular interest in them. Except so far as they may help myself and loved ones.

Mr Anonymous, there you go again!
Ass-noising away!

I am not here to defend drug companies, but as you will keep dragging the subject up…

The reason they make all that money, like all businesses that make enormous amounts of the stuff is because the public really, really, REALLY want their products. Human beings are human beings and powerful organisations are capable of abusing that power. So are little organisations. So are individuals.

A lot of people want snake-oil. They are deceived. Snake-oil is just snake-oil. Many drugs have helped many lives. There’s a serious potential downside. That’s why it needs regulation.

Snake-oil is simply a rip off.

Aarno

As usual you didn’t read, or didn’t understand or worse didn’t want to understand the case against Pfizer.

Here is the press release of the settlement of the case, there are links to the actual filings where you can read what Pfizer did.

justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-announces-largest-health-care-fraud-settlement-its-history

Ivermectin was never approved for use against Covid, by either the FDA nor the company so the drug maker would pretty much off the hook because they just sold a legal/approved drug, they did not market Ivermectin as a cure or preventive for Covid.
So then it is on the doctors prescribing the drug and if you are going down that road you would have a lot of doctors who could be prosecuted for prescribing antibiotics for viral causes or ordering excessive tests just to give the patients something. (its why we have a so much resistance to antibiotics now.

The drug Ivermectin prescribed by these doctors did not KILL anyone. The drug Bextra killed over 60,000 people.

The people who bought Ivermectin did so with their own money, the people who bought Bextra bought it with medicare/medicaid money or with insurance money (or to put it simply Pfizer got richer off of ever person in the US fraudulently). There were 5 million people who were given Bextra .

Again the fine and 1 billion in set aside was written off by Pfizer on their taxes (so every taxpayer made up for those lost taxes and Pfizer got to keep the 3 billion dollars it made off of Bextra.

You also didn’t read the fact that Pfizer did the same thing with 3 other drugs, Geodon, Zyvox, lyrica,

“The drug Ivermectin prescribed by these doctors did not KILL anyone. ”

Um, I don’t think so.

For starters, drugs that have not been shown to prevent, mitigate or cure any disease should have an overwhelmingly safe profile, as in no serious side effects of any kind. Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine don’t fit the bill. Beyond that, when you consider all the people who thought they were preventing disease or adequately treating it through useless prescription meds and risked serious injury or death from lack of adequate protective measures or valid treatment, these drugs have posed marked dangers.We’ll probably never know the full toll they’ve taken.

Yep, companies may be off hook if they does not market ivermection for COVID., and tell instead that ivermectin is not effective, which is the fact, of course,
Doctors are more interesting, Part of Bextra case was Medicaid fraud, prescribing off label medication and billing it.In this case, the judgment was that Pfizer was misleading (caused false billing). In no pharmaceutical company is marketing ivermection for COVID.

Leigh

Again you pose two questions in one. Is a drug safe is the first question, the second question is it effective?

Ivermectin is a safe legal drug, according to the FDA.

As to your second question is it effective against Covid, I will repeat my answer “probably not” and it has not been approved by the FDA for that either.

As to your question
“Or is it only if you are not a drug company that you can dump the entire responsibility for safety and effectiveness of medical treatments on the public?”

Actually that is what the drug companies do. They do drug trials (now with smaller and smaller sample sizes) to get the drug approved (remember that the drug approval process has been getting smaller and smaller and faster and faster, something that took 3 or more years in the past is now down to 1 to 2.

Pfizer spend almost twice as much on marketing than they did on research, AGAIN Pfizer spend twice as much on MARKETING as they did on research. That doesn’t even include payoffs to politicians AKA: lobbying.

You want regulation, I am all for it. but when FDA employees retire or quit guess who hires them. In the last 40 years of the FDA, only one of the commissioners didn’t go to work for a drug company

npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/09/28/495694559/a-look-at-how-the-revolving-door-spins-from-fda-to-industry

If you can’t see a conflict of interest, then you’re the person who demands the bottles of snake oil and will pay any price.

and TIM quit posting here.

Ivermectin for Covid-19 has not been passed in the EU or UK. Trials are still ongoing.

“The FDA has not authorized or approved ivermectin for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19 in people or animals. Ivermectin has not been shown to be safe or effective for these indications.”
https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/why-you-should-not-use-ivermectin-treat-or-prevent-covid-19

Do you have something more recent?

You’re saying, hand the drug over to anyone who wants it and let them take their chances. In drug trials a limited number of volunteers accept an unknown risk. Trial numbers are slowly increased. When released onto the market vastly increased numbers can still reveal problems. So not perfect safety. Simply the safest way of minimising the risk to the general public.

I can see the possibility for conflict of interest. Depends exactly what ex-FDA people get up to. Transparency.

aarno

Yes, you should read Pfizers statements

but please read year end statements not just quarter statements (R & D was higher in 2020-2021 because of the vaccine). But read 4th quarter end of year for 2019.

SI&A 13 billion
R&d 8

Obviously, if you speak about vaccine profits, you should include vaccine R & D, not exclide it, as you do.

Aarno

I excluded nothing R & D on covid vaccine, it wasn’t even started then (2019). As to your post on Pfizer 2021 report, you only read the 2nd quarter side of the sheet, You didn’t even read the 6 month side of the balance sheet, I am not sure you even know what you are looking at.

The only reason that the R & D were/are so high for 1st and 2nd quarter (6 months) was clearly defined for you

“Second-quarter 2021 R&D Expenses(2) increased 17% operationally compared with the prior-year quarter, which primarily reflects incremental investments across multiple therapeutic categories, including additional spending related to the development of BNT162b2(1)”

As to my post

“but please read year end statements not just quarter statements (R & D was higher in 2021 because of the vaccine). But read 4th quarter end of year for 2019.”

pfizer.com/news/press-release/press-release-detail/pfizer-reports-fourth-quarter-and-full-year-2019-results

This report was pre covid vaccine ‘investment/R &D’

2019 2018

SI&A Expenses full year 14.350 Billion 14.455 Billion

R & D Expenses full year 8.6 Billion 8.006 Billion

As I posted before ….

“Pfizer spend almost twice as much on marketing than they did on research”

“including additional spending related to the development of BNT162b2(1)”
Check what BNT162b2 means.

Aarno

You can’t be this stupid or are you just trying to be an obstructionist.

First BNT162b2 program wasn’t even started in 2018 nor 2019. thus it didn’t show up on Pfizer sheet until the 1st quarter of 2020

Second if you actually read the report it clearly tells you what BNT162b2 is, or did you miss this “BNT162b2 (COVID-19 Vaccine) Development Program”

And for people like you, the vaccine has its own ledger with listed guidance range, because it is such a large (over half) of the companies revenue. And as you can clearly read from the consolidated statement, R & D is dropping from the 1st quarter (and if you read the guidance you would have seen that it is expected to drop even more as the clinical phase of BNT162b2 is in it final phase).

As I stated before Pfizer spends almost twice as much on marketing and sales as they do on R & D, even with the added cost of R &D on covid they are still spending more on marketing, who do you think is paying for all those tv ads for prescription drugs?

Do you not yourself understand what spending means ? Pfizer said that it did spend R & D money on COVID vaccine during this quartile

‘Do you not yourself understand what spending means ? Pfizer said that it did spend R & D money on COVID vaccine during this quartile’

What I posted
“R & D is dropping from the 1st quarter (and if you read the guidance you would have seen that it is expected to drop even more as the clinical phase of BNT162b2 is in it final phase).”

So of course i understand what spending means, you don’t read well or understand what is it written or just skim the report and posting just post your opinion and not facts.

In my posts I compared R & D in two non COVID years (2018 & 2019) no spending on Covid research was conducted in those two year. From that data is clearly shows that Pfizer spent almost TWICE as much on promoting/marketing/sales as they did on R & D.

SI&A Expenses full year (2018) 14.350 Billion……. (2019) 14.455 Billion

R & D Expenses full year (2018) 8.6 Billion ……….(2019) 8.006 Billion

Then I compared those two years 2018 & 2019 with 2020 and found that Pfizer spent 12 billion on SI&A (marketing) but even with Covid research in full gear only spent 9 Billion on R & D .

I provided links to all three of those reports and from what you wrote, you didn’t even look at any one of those reports, because you keep insisting that Pfizer spent more on R&D than they did on SI&A, You even claimed that I did not know what “BNT162b2” when it was clearly written in the Pfizer reports I linked to, so it is obvious you didn’t read those reports.

Even in your 2 quarter report you linked to SI&A expenses were 12 Billion while R&D expenses were 10 billion.

Do you have difficulty reading year-end reports? As with all companies spending/earning/revenue/net profits are cyclical, Pfizer even states that the cost of sales (that is the price it has to pay for materials,labor shipping etc.) is going to drop from current cost of about 36% to less than 24% making bigger margins for Pfizer.

So you are citing R&D data before COVID spending, and speak about profits generated by COVID R&D and were reported later. Obviously, if you speak about COVID profits,you should speak about COVID R & D.

You use Pfizer R & D costs before COVID and profits after introduction of COVID vaccine. But your claim was Pfizer gets huge vaccine profits and its R & D costs are so low. This kind of comparison requires COVID era R & D.

Do you have a hard time reading financials. You can’t have a profit from a vaccine/drug you haven’t made yet. I have provided links to 3 of the last FULL years of Pfizers statement.
As I have pointed out Pfizer has spent more on promotion of it products then on actual research. Pfizer only increases R & D by about 1 to 1.5 billion dollars during Covid (or about 12% of total R & D money)

This is from Pfizers 4th quarter (year end) report for 2020. Covid research included in R & D (first year of covid research)

investors.pfizer.com/investor-news/press-release-details/2021/PFIZER-REPORTS-FOURTH-QUARTER-AND-FULL-YEAR-2020-RESULTS-AND-RELEASES-5-YEAR-PIPELINE-METRICS/default.aspx

Adjusted SI & A expenses…………. 11.0 billion – 12.0 billion
Adjusted R &D expenses…………… 9.2 billion – 9.7 Billion

Assumptions Related to BNT162b2 Within Guidance
(they provide a special addition for expected revenues for BNT162b2, the cost of R & D for Covid are clearly outlined in their statement and included in the Adjusted R & D expenses as posted above)

Revenues for BNT162b2 Approximately $15 Billion

Pfizer 4th quarter (year end) report for 2019. NO Covid research as it hadn’t been found/announced/discovered.

investors.pfizer.com/investor-news/press-release-details/2020/PFIZER-REPORTS-FOURTH-QUARTER-AND-FULL-YEAR-2019-RESULTS/default.aspx

Adjusted SI & A Expenses 12.0 billion – 13.0 billion
Adjusted R &D Expenses 8.1 billion – 8.5 billion

4th quarter (year end) for 2018. NO Covid research.

investors.pfizer.com/investor-news/press-release-details/2019/PFIZER-REPORTS-FOURTH-QUARTER-AND-FULL-YEAR-2018-RESULTS/default.aspx

Adjusted SI & A 13.5 billion – 14.5 billion

Adjusted R & D Expenses 7.8 billion – 8.3 billion

Please use you computer to look at the year end statements by Pfizer for yourself.

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