Posted by Henry Bauer on 2012/05/15
Propaganda and spin seek to mislead without actually lying. Drug companies have mastered this strategy to a notable degree. Take the case of Truvada. As my previous post discussed, the data submitted as showing tenofovir successful in preventing “HIV transmission” don’t actually support the claim; and years of experience of using Truvada to treat “HIV infection” have shown that it is toxic, particularly to the kidneys.
Those unpleasant facts are hidden in plain view by adept techniques of spin. For example, statistically non-significant results are displayed as though they were significant:
Missing is any discussion of whether that difference, which is not at all impressive, actually means anything. But worse than that, only fine print then acknowledges that the difference in fact doesn’t even exist:
I suggest that the average person who has not much familiarity with probability and statistics would not recognize that this fine print completely debunks the claim made in large red-highlighted print.
Caveats are also stated without explaining what they actually mean. For example,
Perhaps only AIDS Rethinkers will immediately recognize this as demolishing a whole raft of mainstream claims. There’s a sub-industry now of the larger HIV/AIDS industry basing its recommendations and actions on the shibboleth that treating “HIV infection” and lowering “viral load” decreases transmission of “HIV”; yet here we’re told that Truvada decreases “viral load”, ¾ of the time to an undetectable level, and yet doesn’t “lower the chance of passing HIV-1 to others”.
“Side” effects are swept under the rug:
What, one might wonder, did all the other studies show? After all, tenofovir is acknowledged to be particularly hard on kidneys, which is not mentioned here. Furthermore, “≥5%” has a superficial appearance of being negligible — 5% is small, after all — when in practice ≥5% might stand for 50% or 80% or 100%; that wouldn’t be lying, just misleading.
That ≥5% is followed immediately by
The main Truvada website is skillfully designed to illustrate that its greatest concern is to help people, with links to more information:
One of the psychological ploys commonly used by drug companies is to make sure “patients” understand that they are permanently in need of medication because the “illness” belongs to them: “managing your HIV” drives home the message that you have no choice about it, it belongs to you, it’s a part of you. Similarly, ads for anti-depressants show cheerful people talking about “managing my depression” (when anti-depressants are hardly better than placebo, and might be beneficial only in the most severe depressions, during which no one would be talking cheerily about managing it).
This personalizing of ownership of a disease with implication of permanent patient-hood is facilitated by making it a non-technical, sort of friendly, everyday thing to have. One of the current fads is to tell everyone whose electrocardiogram shows the slightest occasional flutter that they have atrial fibrillation, and that Pradaxa — for example — can reduce the risk of stroke by a factor of 5. But “atrial fibrillation” is quite a mouthful, so the ads very helpfully tell you that it’s also called “Afib”. Easy to talk about with friends, even sounds quite cute.
Truvada uses another semantic ploy to underscore subliminally what a great medication it is:
Ask anyone in the street what “nuke” means, and they’ll tell you it’s an atomic bomb that can wipe out anything. Clearly we’re being sent the message that Truvada and other NRTIs can wipe “HIV” off our maps.
That’s true, in a sense. But the collateral damage is that they also kill us, albeit a bit more slowly by damaging mitochondria, liver, kidneys, heart . . . .
This entry was posted on 2012/05/15 at 4:31 pm and is filed under antiretroviral drugs. Tagged: drug propaganda, Truvada. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.