HIV/AIDS Skepticism

Pointing to evidence that HIV is not the necessary and sufficient cause of AIDS

AIDS activists are immune!

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/10/30

AIDS Activists Issue Grades to Drug Companies, by Duff Wilson; 10 September 2009
“Merck won the highest grade and Abbott Laboratories flunked in a report card being issued Thursday by a prominent group of AIDS treatment activists after a yearlong study of the actions of nine major pharmaceutical companies to address the contagion in the United States. . . . the report card graded the drug makers overall with a below-average C-minus and recommended improvements. . . . The companies were scored on research and development, pricing, patient assistance programs, marketing, and community relations. . . .
The coalition was to some degree biting the hand that feeds it. It receives all of its financing from drug companies, mostly for activists to travel to meetings with them. The executive director, Edward T. Rewolinski, disclosed specific amounts to The New York Times for the last two years. ‘None of our members has the wherewithal to afford this activity,’ he said.
‘People like that would never be influenced by the flow of money,’ Jennifer Flynn, managing director of an unrelated AIDS group, Health GAP, in New York, said.
The top fund provider was Gilead with $100,000, followed by Pfizer, $63,000; Bristol-Myers Squibb, $50,000; Tibotec, $45,000; Merck, $15,000; and Boehringer, $5,000. Abbott gave no money.
Mr. Huff said the grading group was insulated from financing requests. . . . [Bob Huff is antiretroviral treatment director of the Treatment Action Group in New York and a board member of the rating group.]
The coalition was formed in 2001 partly to coordinate contacts with drug companies instead of letting the industry decide whom to invite to meetings” [emphasis added].

Financial conflicts of interest, we’re asked to believe, have no influence on AIDS activists. They’re immune.
We’re not told, however, how they acquired that immunity, which is normally reserved for the gods.

As to the matter of biting the hand that feeds, social activists of various stripes trade on the fact that political correctness has made certain forms of blackmail openly acceptable. Once a group has attained the status of victim-hood, it is not only free to indulge in hyperbolic criticism of mainstream institutions but is actually rewarded for it.

In the present instance, the drug companies profit more than handsomely from the activists’ incessant propaganda for more funds for AIDS treatment. Criticisms like the present ones, that they should do more to develop yet more antiretroviral drugs, are a valuable basis for claiming the need for even higher profits in order to support even more research. If it weren’t all so blatantly open and obvious, one might be tempted to talk of a conspiracy between drug companies and AIDS activists.

9 Responses to “AIDS activists are immune!”

  1. Martin said

    Hi Dr. Bauer, I prefer the term collusion to conspiracy. The AIDS activists became tools of the pharmaceutical corporations — they are being used, i.e. the pharmaceutical companies find those people useful. Those activists aren’t really very smart because the drugs they’re fighting for are the same ones that will kill them. As long as those activists are useful, the symbiotic collusion will continue.

    • Henry Bauer said

      Martin: Thanks, “collusion” is indeed a better description.

      • Philip said

        This does not only apply to AIDS activists, but to almost all “advocates” of newfangled “causes” like HPV and Whine Flu.

        There is hope though, I have read about Dr. Diane Harper going against the tide and declaring the HPV vaccine as near-worthless. This despite the fact that she helped research it!

      • Henry Bauer said

        Philip: The link MacDonald supplied reports about Dr. Harper

      • Philip said

        …and already she is being bashed. People are saying that she probably has ulterior motives. Oh and the drug peddlers don’t?

      • Philip said

        I do not know if this is the appropriate place to make this comment, but do you remember, Henry, about how I said in the past few months there has been an increase in HIV testing, an increase in the number of “HIV is epidemic” in the Philippines articles etc etc… I think I found why:

        I don’t know about you, but I smell sushi.

        [Henry Bauer asked, “sushi”??
        Philip replied: raw fish — meaning it’s just like Africa, they’ll do or say anything as long as they can say “show me the MONEY”]

  2. landmark said

    It’s not inconceivable that the drug companies are very happy for such groups to yell “more needs to be done!” as governments who are are pushed into “doing more” spend more on such things as drugs.

    This is not such an odd idea — it commonly takes place in the field of “climate change”, where e.g. the EU and UK governments pour money into lobby groups whose main function is to shout at the EU and UK governments, telling them that they aren’t “doing enough”. Ministers can then say that they are responding to “public pressure” (in actuality virtually non-existent) when they carry out measures they aren’t able to justify otherwise.

  3. MacDonald said

    It’s a little bit tangential, but here is a very worthwhile article. It is also very revealing because it is openly written from the perspective of the drug developers.

    Below some highlights. First a truly jaw-dropping statement from an MD waxing nostalgic about the good old days when the public wasn’t so fuzzy:

    “It’s the nature of the times. The public expects the drugs to have a nice safety profile, and so the process to develop drugs has become much more complex in the last few years,” said Pablo Tebas, a doctor who directs the adult AIDS Clinical Trials Unit of the University of Pennsylvania and has consulted for Merck.”

    Next, If a drug is toxic, simply restructure it:

    “Despite the negative results in the dog tests, she and a team of hundreds around the world still believed that [eureka] moment would arrive. They restructured the compound to eliminate the toxicities seen in dogs and brought Isentress to the market in 2007.”

    How can one make a drug non-toxic without changing its action?

    Now spot the contradiction:

    ‘”In one month’s time, I went to undetectable, which in and of itself is a miracle,” said Vokoun, 50. “But what is beyond that is that I had no side effects, no diarrhea, no nausea, no headaches – nothing.”
    A drug with fewer side effects is a huge plus, especially for an HIV medicine. HIV treatments can raise cholesterol and trigger diabetes, requiring close monitoring of diet and exercise. Often, patients take anticholesterol agents, insulin, or other medicines to tackle side effects.
    Vokoun, for example, takes 20 medicines every day, some for HIV and others for side effects. The more drugs patients must take, the less likely they are to take them as prescribed. And skipping doses gives HIV greater opportunity to develop resistance to treatment.”

    If Vokoun takes 20 medicines daily, how can he claim that all side effects have vanished because of one new drug?

    Here’s another one:

    “The work has reaped unexpected rewards. About a year ago, after she had given a speech in Zurich, Switzerland, a doctor pulled her aside to meet a patient whose HIV levels were undetectable for the first time. Doctor and patient were speaking French, but Hazuda got the message.
    “The patient was just absolutely so thankful,” she said, “that I thought he was going to jump out of the bed.”‘

    Undetectable HIV levels, but attending conferences in a bed to thank his saviour? Monty Python couldn’t have come up with a better pitch for a sketch.

    Did you know that, given a little help, cells destroy HIV on their own?

    “They were true believers. They had seen strong evidence that integrase inhibitors worked against HIV in test tubes. Eventually, they figured out they didn’t have to prevent the cut-and-paste step completely – they just had to stall it long enough to give the cell time to destroy the virus itself.”

    Is this non-preventive-only-delaying action the answer to the question of how they managed to reduce the drugs toxicity?

    Are these drugs simply too expensive to fail? Read it all and count for yourselves how many times cost and profit is mentioned or alluded to (Yes, I know it’s from a business section, but still).

  4. MacDonald said

    The stuff about removing drug toxicity by restructuring the compound was so intriguing that I had to look up Isentress.

    By “removing toxicity” to achieve a “nice safety profile” is meant that Isentress is less toxic than Efavirenz.

    Forty-seven percent of subjects on Isentress in combination with tenofovir/emtricitabine experienced one or more drug-related adverse event(s). It is not known how many “adverse events” were judged to be HIV-related and on which criteria, but since almost 100% of patients in both groups had adverse events, the criteria for “drug related” must have been pretty strict to get it down to 47% for Isentress.

    On post-hoc analysis 16% and 32% of patients on raltegravir and efavirenz, respectively, had drug-related clinical adverse events in the category moderate-to-severe intensity

    There were 58 (10%) discontinuations, but again less than half (26) were judged to be drug-related.

    The only bad news is that this otherwise remarkably safe drug cannot be give to pregnant women because it damages the foetus.

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