Alex Constantine - March 13, 2009
Edited by Alex Constantine
1) George Shultz and Gilead, a Leading Bird Flu Vaccine Manufacturer: "George Shultz and his wife, San Francisco Chief of Protocol Charlotte Swig Shultz, own $8,700,000 worth of shares in Gilead..."
2) Shultz, Rusmfeld and Gilead Profit from the Bird Flu Scare: "Shultz turned a neat $7 million profit earlier this year in insider selling of some of his Gilead stock..."
3) Dr. Tim O'Shea on Bird Flu Profiteering: "Best estimates at present: between $1 - 1.8 billion. And that's just for the US market. Such a figure would double Gilead's total income for 2004. Just for one drug..."
1) George Shultz and Gilead, a Leading Bird Flu Vaccine Manufacture
... One of San Francisco's wealthiest and most prominent couples could choose to have a significant impact on the negotiations. Former Secretary of State George Shultz and his wife, San Francisco Chief of Protocol Charlotte Swig Shultz, own $8,700,000 worth of shares in Gilead. They are Gilead's fourth largest individual shareholders. George Shultz sits on the comparatively small eight-member board of directors.
2) Shultz, Rusmfeld and Gilead Profit from the Bird Flu Scare
Gilead Sciences is no small-time biotech startup, either. Helped by the propaganda from its friends in Washington and other high places, today Gilead has a total market capitalization of $ 22 billion. Its board today includes Bechtel Corporation director and former Secretary of State, George P. Shultz. According to Fortune, Shultz turned a neat $7 million profit earlier this year in insider selling of some of his Gilead stock.
Bechtel is right up there with Halliburton in grabbing the lion’s share of Pentagon sweetheart contracts to rebuild Iraq. Most certainly it did not hurt Bechtel’s business that Shultz and Rumsfeld knew each other from their common days on the board of Gilead.
The Gilead Sciences board also includes Gordon Moore of Intel, and Viscount Etienne Davignon, the Belgian Count who seems to be involved in everything big and Atlanticist, whether it be Bilderberg meetings or Trilateral Commissions, and now, profiting from the Bird Flu panic.
The Gilead model also suggests a parallel to the Halliburton Corporation, whose former CEO is Vice President Dick Cheney. Cheney’s company has so far gotten billions worth of US construction contracts in Iraq and elsewhere. Is it just a coincidence that Cheney’s closest political friend is Defense Secretary and Avian Flu beneficiary, Donald Rumsfeld? The Defense Secretary is an accomplished hand at getting the government to buy vaccines from companies in which he has a direct financial interest. Recall the scare just following the events of September 11, 2001. One of the terror scenarios discussed widely by the Administration was a possible release of a deadly smallpox attack that would devastate the American population.
In November 2001 the Administration reversed a two decade policy. On the advice of the Pentagon and others in the Administration, the President ordered that the US’ remaining stock of smallpox microbes, stored at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, not be destroyed as he world community had been urging, but be kept until new vaccines were developed. The United States and Russian Governments at the time held the only known smallpox microbe stocks known. The disease had long since been eradicated.
The Administration announced at the time it was backing development of a new vaccine for smallpox that could be given the entire population. The major media from Judith Miller in the New York Times, to more widely read papers, carried horror stories. Typical was one from Knight-Ridder which began, ‘When counterterrorism officials compare notes on what keeps them awake at night, the weapon they most fear is not a nuclear bomb or poison gas, but a disease that was wiped off the planet 20 years ago. They worry about smallpox, a lethal, super-contagious virus that, if unleashed, would spread quickly…’
The scare around smallpox and what to do was curiously similar then as it is today against Bird Flu pandemics. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld at that time ordered members of the Armed Forces to be inoculated against smallpox, an inoculation with horrendous side-effects. Rumsfeld’s smallpox package also included ordering Pentagon stockpiling of a drug named Vistide, supposedly to minimize side-effects of smallpox infection should it occur.
The Bush Administration had made repeated attempts to convince the public and above all, the health and medical profession to go with mass inoculation against smallpox. In 2002 the CDC and certain high Administration officials were calling for pre-emptive smallpox inoculation of broad sectors of the population against threat of terrorists unleashing the pox. The Government began stockpiling hundreds of millions of smallpox vaccine doses. It also stockpiled Vistide.
With every official statement by members of the Administration, population panic regarding smallpox threats grew. Fear was driving the debate. Yet the reality was that, contrary to what was being said, smallpox was not a highly contagious disease. As Dr. Kuritsky, MD, director of the National Immunization Program and Early Smallpox Response and Planning at the CDC put it, ‘Smallpox has a slow transmission and is not highly contagious.’
Even were someone exposed to a known bio-terrorist attack with smallpox, it would not mean that he would contract smallpox, Kuritsky added. The signs and symptoms of the disease would not occur immediately, and there was time to plan.
Increasingly, experienced US health professionals began going public with the dangers of the side effects from the smallpox immunization itself. These included ‘serious brain and heart diseases, autism, abnormal chromosomal changes, diabetes, various cancers and leukemias, plus demyelination of nerve tissue years after vaccination.’ Many thought it better to run the risk of a bio-terror attack than take the ‘cure.’ The Administration mass vaccination campaign for smallpox was a flop. Yet in the meantime millions of doses of Vistide were produced and sold to the US government, to ‘ease’ the effects of smallpox should such an hypothetical attack materialize. The Pentagon was one of the major purchasers of Vistide at the time.
The smallpox terror scenario fear-mongering reached a peak in the run-up to the February 2003 war in Iraq, with scare stories speculating that Saddam Hussein may have been holding stolen Russian stocks of the smallpox virus ready to unleash an attack on the American public. In his January 2003 State of the Union Address, the President proposed creation of Project BioShield to develop vaccines and drugs against bio-terror attack including anthrax and smallpox.
On July 21, 2004 President Bush signed into law Project BioShield, to provide ‘new tools to improve medical countermeasures protecting Americans against a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) attack.’ The fiscal year 2004 appropriation for the Department of Homeland Security included $5.6 billion over 10 years for the purchase of next generation countermeasures against anthrax and smallpox as well as other CBRN agents.
Mr Rumsfeld knew well what he was prescribing for his soldiers. Vistide was also a product of Gilead Sciences, Mr. Rumsfeld’s former company. Rumsfeld was the person who signed off on the decision to give US Troops Vistide. That decision was obviously not made out of benevolence, or concern for the health of the troops on the part of the Defense Secretary, who had been personally involved with the side-efects of Vistide at Gilead since the company first developed it in the late 1990’s as an AIDS treatment. As Rumsfeld well knew, Vistide had some pretty hefty side effects. According to Dr. Christopher J Hogan, MD, Professor at the Department of Emergency Medicine, Medical College of Virginia, complications of Vistide include renal toxicity, neutropenia, fever, anemia, headache, hair loss, uveitis and/or iritis, and abdominal pain. Yet, despite the fact of who is making millions on the fears being stirred over smallpox or Avian Flu, it would be a dangerous diversion to think the end of the story is personal or corporate greed. The alarming aspect to this Tamiflu, Vistide and proposed new legal regimes for the ‘vaccine industry,’ is the fact that it all fits, evidently, into a far larger strategy that the Administration seems to have been developing for some time. During the smallpox scare three years ago, the Administration got Republican Congressmen to insert a paragraph into the Homeland Security bill that would give immunity for liability to drug companies who manufacture smallpox vaccine.
Abolishing the Nuremburg Code on Human Rights in Experimentation
Now the Bush Administration is seeking to vastly expand that drug company immunity, using the climate of fear around Avian Flu.
The President, in his November 1 NIH pandemic speech, proposed completely exempting drug makers from being sued for their products. Explicitly he termed it ‘liability protection for the makers of life-saving vaccine rhetoric, it means drug makers can produce and promote whatever they choose to foist on the public, whether it be Vistide, Tamiflu or Thalidomide, and fear no legal consequences.
One need only think for a minute about the consequences of removing the gains of more than a Century of bitter battles to establish even minimal controls over what drugs can be sold to the public. During the 1960’s in Germany, Dr. Heinrich Mueckter, an infamous Nazi doctor, wanted by the Polish government for hideous experiments using live Typhus on concentration camp inmates, founded a drug company in West Germany where he developed a drug he marketed as a harmless sleeping tablet. His product, Contergan, was advertised as so harmless that it could be sold over-the-counter and one million Germans used it daily to sleep. He specially marketed his drug for ‘pregnant mothers’ having sleep problems. The results were soon clear in the form of tens of thousands of grotesquely deformed births. The drug he developed contained At that time, German law left regulation of such drugs to the industry, a kind of self-policing, or to local government.
Or consider the huge scandals surrounding the anti-arthritic drug, VIOXX, which was being used by more than two million people around the world when it was pulled from the market by Merck & Co. last September, after serious studies indicated VIOXX users had a 400% increased risk of heart attack or stroke. Threat of litigation was clearly a major factor leading Merck to pull VIOXX.
Merck & Co. began in Germany in the late 1800’s by selling products including morphine, codeine, quinine and strychnine as ‘medications.’ There were no regulations on drug makers then. The German aspirin inventor, Bayer Company, in 1898 sold heroin labelled as a ‘superior cough suppressant.’ It probably was, but they also didn’t speak of side effects in those days. This was before many such scandals and serious consequences on the public forced governments to begin regulating what was sold as drugs.
In 1962, in response to the Thalidomide scandals, Senator Estes Kefauver drafted and got passed the Kefauver-Harris Drug Amendments of 1962, tightening drug safety requirements and requiring pharmaceutical makers, or as George Bush prefers to call it, ‘the vaccine industry,’ to prove a given drug is effective before it can be sold to the public. Drugs were required to be registered with the US Food and Drug Administration, and the FDA was given ‘explicit authority to require compliance with good manufacturing practices.’ Safety and purity standards were defined. It also required drug makers explicitly
state risks in their products.
In 1948 the member countries of the United Nations adopted the so-called Nuremburg Code following the military trial in Nuremburg Germany in 1946 of 23 Nazi doctors for crimes against humanity and experimentation with drugs and viruses on human subjects. It was recognized as international common law guiding medical research. With the grant of legal immunity from lawsuits for effects of their drugs, pharmaceutical companies would succeed in rolling back not only the Nuremburg Code but also more than a Century of bitterly-fought gains in public safety in the regulation of drug manufacturing and promotion. In promoting drug industry immunity from legal damage suits, the President claims he is ‘breaking downbarriers to vaccine production.’ In reality he is taking steps to create an environment which not even the Nazi doctors and drug companies during the Third Reich enjoyed—they had to be secretive about their actions. This is a very alarming precedent should it become law. The real question to ask is what could be so important to compel the President of the United States to put his own population at risk in such an unfettered drug environment?
That there exists a virulent viral strain affecting birds especially in parts of Vietnam and China is not the issue at hand here. Rather it is the politicization of such a condition to introduce a wholly other agenda, one whose ultimate consequences on human life and well-being are potentially far more damaging than any conceived damage from H5N1 or other virus strains.
3) Tim O'Shea on Bird Flu Profiteering
As with the marketing of smallpox vaccine in 2002  and the marketing of SARS in 2003 , it's a fairly safe bet the threat of avian flu will disappear as soon as the money has been spent stockpiling the drugs and vaccines. That's the usual pattern. Count on it. The two remedies for avian flu being hawked daily from every quarter are Tamiflu and a new flu vaccine. Let's look behind the scenes a little and see whose money is on the line here, and who would benefit from the sale of enough of these drugs for the entire
world. First Tamiflu.
In 1996 two drug giants - Hoffman LaRoche and Gilead Sciences agreed to split the world between them.
Gilead had invented a new type of flu drugs called neuraminidase inhibitors, which included Tamiflu. The deal was that LaRoche could research and market the drug worldwide, and Gilead would be paid residuals. Forever. Gilead Sciences, located in Foster City, California, joined the NASDAQ 100 in 2001. Its 2004 revenues were only $1.3 billion, but that's about to change. From 1997 until the time he was sworn in as Secretary of Defense in 2001, guess who had been Chairman of the Board of Gilead Sciences. Donald Rumsfeld. Don't believe it? Good. Look at the Dept of Defense website. At present Rumsfeld continues to receive stock and benefits from Gilead, and is a major shareholder.
Another member of Gilead's Board of Directors is George Schultz, whom you may remember as Secretary of Treasury under Nixon. One of the financial directors of the Vietnam war, Schultz is still technically alive.So. How does the financial future of Gilead appear, with sales of Tamiflu? Best estimates at present: between $1 - 1.8 billion. And that's just for the US market. Such a figure would double Gilead's total income for 2004. Just for one drug.
Taking the global market into consideration, sales revenue from Tamiflu is virtually "unlimited." A sacred word for investors. The US Senate approved $3.9 billion for Tamiflu purchase back in Sept 2005 with virtually no discussion.  And Gilead smiled. But the best news for investors is that the Tamiflu windfall will be around for a long time. Again, from the WHO FAQ sheet: "At present manufacturing capacity, which has recently quadrupled, it will take a decade to produce enough oseltamivir to treat 20% of the world's population."
Oseltamivir - that's Tamiflu.
Keep asking yourself: who would benefit from the threat of pandemic?
"You can see the whole excellent article at Dr O'Shea's website where you'll be able to find the sources he cites above. I encourage you to read the whole article because it articulates quite clearly just what a giant scam this bird flu fiasco really is. Luckily people seem to have short memories because many people should be quite embarrassed by their rhetoric."