WHO Exaggerated H1N1 Flu Problems, After Consulting With Consultants Working For Pharmaceutical Firms

from the regulatory-capture dept

The deeper you look at the pharmaceutical industry, the more and more ridiculous it seems. Pharma has abused patent laws greatly for many years (even though many of the roots of the industry come from areas that refused to allow patents on drugs… until some companies got too big and wanted to limit competition). The latest news is that the World Health Organization apparently has been dinged for exaggerating the H1N1 flu threat… in part because they relied on pharmaceutical industry insiders for information. Guess what they suggested? Stockpiling a limited supply of super expensive pharmaceuticals, which were so super expensive thanks to patents limiting competition. Part of the issue is that the goals of the pharma industry are not at all aligned with basic public policy on health care. The incentive structure is entirely screwed up. Pharma has no interest in making sure people are healthy, but because sometimes its drugs happen to do that, as a side effect of making money for the industry, officials falsely believe that pharma execs should have some sort of say in public health policy.

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Comments on “WHO Exaggerated H1N1 Flu Problems, After Consulting With Consultants Working For Pharmaceutical Firms”

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Big_Mike (profile) says:


I remember hearing My friend from childhood, my best friend, had the swine flu. (Not called swine flu now because the pork industry fought it) I remember how we thought Oh My God, are you going to be OK? and his response was “Dude, I feel like I have the flu!” Did anyone really die from this that wouldn’t have died if it was the regular flu? We kept hearing tallies of the dead from swine flu… how many died from the regular flu and why didn’t we hear about that?

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

The WHO exaggerated the reports on H1N1? Wow, big surprise there(!)

I said so from the very beginning. I said so during the bird flu “attack” (H1N5) and I said it during H1N1. They used scare tactics by blowing up single instances where the flu resulted in deaths into “pandemic proportions”, in order to boost the sales of a certain vaccine. It was so transparent, but the news cycle was so eager for news at that point, that they refused to think critically.

WHO is a corrupt organisation, pandering to their shareholders (the pharmaceutical companies).

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Rummi's Hands All Over This One, Too...

The H1N1 fervor has Donald Rumsfeld’s (CFR, Trilateralist) hands all all over it. Just like he used his position in government to get Aspartame through the FDA through the most blatantly nepotistic means, he whipped up concern over H1N1 to sell Tamiflu. Both Aspartame and Tamiflu are developed by GD Searl, the company that Rummi used to head up and is now consulting for once again.

And it’s not like this is new. He did this back in the 70’s. Yes, H1N1 was around in the 70’s, too. In 1976, after a military recruit died from what was believed to be swine flu, raising concerns of a comeback for the virus which was famously a pandemic in 1918, Rumsfeld made it enough of a political issue that Gerald Ford stated that evey man, woman, and child would be vaccinated then against Swine Flu. Huge amounts of the vaccine were produced.

The problems began with tainted vaccines that were responsible for killing 52 people. What made it worse? Uh, NOBODY FUCKING GOT SWINE FLU! NO ONE!

Am I the only one wondering why this story never got retold by major mediathis go around?

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Rummi's Hands All Over This One, Too...

More like an all-wing conspiracy. Do you even know what the Trilateral Commission is actually all about? According to founder Zbigniew Brzezinski:

“National sovereignty is no longer a viable concept,” he predicted “movement toward a larger community by the developing nations . . . through a variety of indirect ties and already developing limitations on national sovereignty.” He foresaw this larger community being funded by “a global taxation system.”

How do you achieve one world government? By fostering closer ties between nations through multi-national crises. War is what people point to much of the time, but I can’t think of a better excuse to create world oversight than global health crises….

Myth buster says:

Re: Rummi's Hands All Over This One, Too...

Dude, you’re either dumb or ignorant, or both.

Tamiflu was developed by Roche and Giliad. No connection to (now defunct) Searl whatsoever.

H1N1 is an old virus, and indeed it killed scores in 1917-1918. Till now, nobody knows for a fact which strain will be more potent in which human population.

If you are to balme somebody, blame the media which made a show ot of it. I was in Mexico for a week and came back 2 days before the first report on national TV and never bothered with a vaccine. So you can add human ignorance to the blame list.

What do yuo have against Aspartame? It’s used all over the world for decades. Or is it better to pig-out on sugar and grow a lard bottom?

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Rummi's Hands All Over This One, Too...

I made a minor mistake, you’re right, but one that does nothing to alter the fact that Rumsfeld is all over this one. Tamiflu was indeed not made by Searl, my mistake. The patent for Oseltamivir, now MARKETED by Roche, was developed, as you said, by Giliad.

Want to take a stab at who was Chairman of Giliad until 2001?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

(to continue)

If the U.S. was really interested in saving journalism, they wouldn’t have shut down Wikileaks. The problem is they only want to destroy true journalism, journalism can exist perfectly fine without governmental legislation designed to “help” it (as wikileaks has shown). Why should the government be trusted to help journalism anyways, as an entity with a conflict of interest in the matter it should be none of their business. They don’t want to help journalism, they want to cover up all their crimes and act like they don’t do anything wrong and that those who resist their criminal behavior are the criminals who should be suppressed. Why should an entity with a conflict of interest in the matter be allowed or trusted to “save” journalism when the entity itself has an interest in destroying it, just like it did outside the MSM.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Wait, that article was in 2008. Apparently the judge changed his mind. My mistake.


So why doesn’t wikileaks update its site anymore? I remember reading something about having budget problems somewhere but I don’t see it anymore. Does anyone know? I remember reading FDA leaked documents about the swine flu on there, which is why I brought it up, because their documents were pretty accurate and indicated that the whole thing might have been exaggerated well before its time. Sorry if it’s kinda off topic.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is always a catch-22 situation. You see an impending disaster. You take steps to prevent that disaster. The disaster doesn’t happen because of said steps. People blame you for crying wolf. It’s like Y2K.

That’s why people fighting for a response to climate change can never win. If they manage to get any changes made, and they prevent the worst from happening, people will claim it was all a hoax because nothing happened.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

But it really isn’t a catch 22 situation at all. They didn’t teat me, or anyone I know yet we didn’t catch anything. In fact, most people exposed to it didn’t catch anything without any form of treatment.

Those that did catch it suffered minor flu like symptoms and the few who died were seriously ill to begin with and probably would have died from catching the common cold.

VX says:

Re: Swine Flu is not Y2K

Y2K could have been a huge disaster, anyone who thinks Y2K was fake is comepletely clueless. There were millions of programmers dedicated to just fixing Y2K noncompliant code well before Y2K was even in the news. If this work had not been Jan 1, 2000 would have probably seen a very large economic downturn as utilities would have shut down, billing systems would crash, and any number of other horrible problems causing people to cash out their stocks.

Conversely, I know a lot of people who got the swine flu, including me, and it was a lot like the normal flu. For what it’s worth, none of them died. Many more people died from the normal flu than swine flu. Many more people died from car accidents, heart disease, and cancer than swine flu. The swine flu certainly had the potential to kill, but the danger was mostly to babies and the elderly (who are always in danger of dying from the regular flu as well as many other things that are not normally life threatening. Those people were vaccinated and everything went ok.

If anything this reminded me of the SARS issue a few years ago. I think most people hit the nail on the head when they say that it turned out to be no big deal. They say this because they know people who had SARS/H1N1 and it wasn’t a huge problem, not just because the epidemic was avoided. Instead of instigating a nationwide panic the WHO should have got the word out to vaccinate small children, the elderly, and people with immune system issues. Then, if there was vaccine left use it for people who work in the medical industry, and then the rest of us.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Swine Flu is not Y2K

I think the Y2K alarmists were almost as bad the the Y2K hoax people. It was a problem. It needed to be fixed. But it was not going to cause worldwide blackouts or a total failure of computer systems. (And I find it amusing that as all these utilities fail, somehow people are still able to call their broker and sell their stock.)

H1N1 is the same. It was a problem. It needed to be addressed. Did the WHO expect it to kill millions like the pandemic of 1918? Probably not. Even early on it did not appear to be more lethal when compared to the regular flu. But as you just said, you got it. And a lot of people you know got it. I guess you’re all the sick people that the guy who claimed everyone he knew and himself were hanging around sick people but never got sick. But it’s not about just the death count. Having 20%, or 50%, or more of your workforce out sick would be a huge drain on the economy. That’s what the WHO was trying to prevent.

Anonymous Coward says:

who did what it needed to do, h1n1 spread rapidly, and was agressive enough to be causing death in many older people, etc. essentially nobody had any immunity to this virus, as it is a new strain far enough removed from other existing strains. so even if it was not fatal to most healthy adults, they adults were a vector for spreading it to the elderly, the young, and the infirmed, all who would find the disease fatal in a significant number of cases. the risk of h1n1 was actually pretty high. the fairly rapid worldwide response to the situation, the vacinations, and other actions taken to rapid quarantine anyone thought to have the disease kept it from quickly sweeping through the population. hindsight is 20/20, and they are looking at things like unused vaccines and wondering why they paid for it. it looks more like idiot politicians covering their own asses rather than any issue with the who.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Er, do you have even a shred of evidence to back ANY of that up? Where are the fatality numbers? According to the CDC:

Just over 14,000 deaths WORLDWIDE can be attributed to Swine Flu, and the percent of people infected that died from it is 0.3%. In other words, Swine Flu killed 2.33e6 of the world population in 2009. Roughly 91 million people died in total worldwide in 2009, meaning that Swine Flu’s death rate was 1.54e4, or infintesimally small.

Other causes of death by rate, according to the WHO:

-Diarrhea was responsible for 3.15% of deaths in 2009 (damn you, Taco Bell!)
-Malaria 2.23% of deaths
-Traffic Accidents 2.09%
-Suicide 1.9%
-Measles 1.09% (WTF? Measles?)
-Violence .98%
-Starvation .85%
-Falling Down .69%
-Drowning .67%
-Asthma .42%
-War .3%

That’s why this was so stupid. Not unused vaccines. Unused brains….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

if the anti-flu campaign was completely successful, the death rate would be near zero. the problem is that the reaction was likely a little overboard, but we do not have the comparative “we did nothing” situation to look at. also, using worldwide death rates is a little misleading, because it brings in the (major) issues of poverty and third world living conditions, explaining diarrhea as a major cause of death.

Anonymous Coward says:

“WHO Exaggerated H1N1 Flu Problems, After Consulting With Consultants Working For Pharmaceutical Firms” – you are doing it again mike. you are taking someones opinion, and re-stating it as fact. it isnt clear that the who exaggerated the problem (perhaps their guidelines and actions taken were effective), nor is it clear that they did any exaggerating based only on discussions with big pharma consultants. your headline states something as a fact that is just not a fact, once again putting techdirt in a major fail position.

Nastybutler77 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Why don’t you just use a standard boilerplate comment on every posting and save yourself some time? Why bother typeing up a new comment each time since you just say the same crap over and over again anyway? Something like: “mike your wrong. your bootstrapping and have you’re facts wrong. theres more to this story than your letting on [sic].”

Feel free to cut and paste that into each posting and use the time I’ve saved you to go troll other blogs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

you dont think it is true? the title states something as a fact that is not a fact, only the opinion of a few politicians with egg on their faces. if mike is willing to do this on such a simple story, how often do you think he misleads you in other stories by doing the same thing?

Nastybutler77 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

So you belive the WHO, who of course are denying they did anything below board. What did you expect them to say?

And headlines are designed to grab your attention. You actually need to read the post and related article to get the whole picture, which you always claim is still not there. If he were actually trying to be misleading, why would he link to the article?

Plus it doesn’t help your cause that you say this about EVERY effing post! You’re the boy who cried, “mike’s wrong.” So now, even if you were to be right one time (not that you are here), nobody will listen to you because you’ve proven yourself to be a contrarian in all things Techdirt.

compgeek (profile) says:

to all the people...

saying that the h1n1 flu was prevented by measures taken, if it was such a risk then why didn’t i get it? i haven’t had a flu shot in 9 years. i was around several sick people in the flu season. never even got a cold. in fact now that i think about it, i haven’t been sick once since i stopped getting flu shots. not once. also no one i was around a lot after being around sick people got sick either. that includes my immuno-compromised mother.

Nastybutler77 (profile) says:

Re: Re: to all the people...

“How did these sick people get sick if no one was getting sick from being around sick people?”

They probably all had flu shots. I have never had a flu shot, and I haven’t had the flu since I was a kid. Colds, on the other hand, I get all the time, so it’s not like I’ve got a great immune system, but I avoid flu shots like the plague. Pun intended.

JackSombra (profile) says:

Swine flu panic was basically caused by erroneous death toll counts out of Mexico (basically panic hit such levels that if you died of anything that could not be instantly categorized as something else, e.g. bullet to the brain, it was classed as H1N1 until proven otherwise) and then fuelled by ignorant media looking for rating/wanting to sell papers

Simple fact is flu kills tens of thousands every single year.

The only thing special about H1N1 was the pointless panic it caused and the killing the Pharmaceuticals made from it

Anonymous Coward says:

No doubt....

I am 54 years old, have never had a flu shot, and have not had the flu in over 25 years. My husband works in a hospital where he is exposed to practically every germ and virus going around. He has never taken a flu shot, and he has not had the flu in over 25 years. The pharmaceutical companies are running this country. Believe it.

bigpicture says:

Conflict of Interest

“Pharma has no interest in making sure people are healthy,” and you are only coming to this conclusion NOW?

That the medical, legal, banking, systems do not serve the interests of the public, but only their own interests. Quite apart from the controlling regulations is the integrity of the people in those positions. It is usually “greed” that motivates them to those positions in the first place. A 2000 year old axiom still holds true today, “power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

Sychodelix (profile) says:

People were getting sick all over the place here. And yes, some people it was very tame and didn’t make them all that sick. But the majority of that I saw with it were VERY sick, much worse than the normal flu. I don’t get all the people calling it all a conspiracy. It was definitely sensationalized, but for most of the ones that got it, it was a nasty virus.

Joe Immunity says:

A turn for the worse

The only shame about this article is having to hear the anti-immunization folks popping up.

“I never had a flu shot, and I’ve never been ill! Combine that with three other anecdotes and this is proof that flu shots are all about “Big Pharma” greed!”

Discuss H1N1 as a hype issue, or even the aspect of an organization that should do and know better taking their lead from buisnesses that have a profit interest.

But please don’t use this conversation to bear your grudges about the one thing that medicine has created that is actually scientifically proven to be helpful when made and used correctly.

Darryl says:

"as a side effect of making money for the industry" !!!!!

” The incentive structure is entirely screwed up. Pharma has no interest in making sure people are healthy, but because sometimes its drugs happen to do that, as a side effect of making money for the industry, officials falsely believe that pharma execs should have some sort of say in public health policy.”

sure, if you were going after the duds that put magnets in blankets to fix back pain, or homatheraphy that I can understand who money is the main motivator, but you dont get FDA approval for drugs because they are expensive to make, you get approval because they work.

And I know YOU KNOW THAT mike………

Do you actually BELIEVE what you say ?

So what would you have said if the government and pharma UNDERESTIMATED the threat ? and it was much worse that necessary, and MORE people DIED.

(and yes, people DIED from this) how do you exagerate DEATH !!!.)

but according to you pharma, make drugs to make money and fixing people is a side effect !! OMFG Mike.

Clearly you have never required some life saving drugs to keep you alive, or have never taken an asprin for a headache.

Let me guess, the pharma industry, manufactured and introduced HiV AIDS, so that they could make heaps of money inventing new drugs to fight it ?

Please Mike, PLEASE regain some balance, you really do appear to be overdosing on youre own Cool Aid.

You keep making wild claims and are clearly way off base and people will start to see you for what you are and what you real goals are.

The pharma industry make drugs to make money, saving and fixing people is an accendental side effect !!!.

No mike, does not work that way.

Betty Senior says:

There are a great deal of others who were involved with the great global swine flu scam

The WHO is according to insiders one of the most corrupt institutions in the world – http://www.examiner.com/x-10438-Human-Rights-Examiner~y2010m6d4-Vaccine-global-criminal-cabal-exposed .

But it is not alone.

There are a great number of people that have vested interests with big pharma, Nature magazine included. Indeed in early 2008 when swine flu was not even known, Nature publshed an article that destroyed the alternative and only strategy that would clean the world of pandemics – http://avian-influenza.cirad.fr/content/download/1931/11789/file/Kennedy-F-Shortridge.pdf – the preventative strategy and based on the premise of never letting it happen in the first place

Butler the publisher of the article in January 2008 that destroyed this strategy recently supported these people (his friends who are advisers at the WHO and big pharma) – http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100608/full/465672a.html
Not really strange, really.

That is what the people of the world are up against, vested interests in all walks of life of big pharma and the power that they have at their control.

Anonymous Coward says:

To all those conspiracy theorists and other doubters:

In response to the criticism, the WHO has launched two investigations, including one by an independent panel of experts led by Harvey Fineberg, who heads the Institute of Medicine at the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

From the linked article.

This is what separates scientifically-based institutions like public health and other medical organizations from faith-based organizations of all stripes – self-correction.

And, in defense of the pharma industry – guilty as they are of many, many offenses – they are also one of the few industries that regularly make large positive impacts on large numbers of people’s quality of life and lifespan.

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