As the Covid-19 pandemic wears on past a full year, several of the world’s top pharmaceutical companies have dominated the world headlines, notably Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, along with the smaller start-ups such Moderna and Novavax. Each is now vying to usurp the coveted Covid-19 vaccine market. Prior to the pandemic, the vaccine market worldwide was only a small slice of the overall $1 trillion pharmaceutical market at about $24 billion annually. Now sales of the new generation of vaccines to fight the pandemic are poised to exceed global vaccine sales exponentially. Ronny Gal at the market analysis firm Bernstein estimates that Covid vaccine sales will reach $40 billion this year. We believe this is a very conservative estimate as newer vaccines come on line and with companies making efforts to outdo each other on its efficacy and safety profile. Moderna and Pfizer together are expected to earn $32 billion this year and we are not taking into account Russia’s Sputnik-V vaccine and now five approved in China. The frenetic race is underway to vaccinate billions of human beings naively standing in line after drinking from the government health agencies’ and the mainstream media’s cattle trowels of vaccine hype and propaganda. What is certain is that a new era of drug discovery has begun and all will be driven by the surge in vaccines’ new celebrity status. The very definition of a vaccine is now being redefined and it is clearly predictable that we will be witnessing prophylactic and therapeutic drugs being reevaluated as vaccines to leap-frog regulatory hurdles and to escape legal actions for product injury and death.
It may be surprising that the world’s second largest vaccine maker Merck is missing from the Covid vaccine cash cow. Along with the other two of the top three global vaccine makers, Glaxo and Sanofi, Merck exited the Covid vaccine arena after its candidates flopped in generating sufficient neutralizing antibodies in Phase 1 trials. Instead the company has shuffled its resources to develop two new novel drugs that will target serious risks of the body’s over-reactive immune response to SARS-CoV2 infection. Although we will not likely see a Merck Covid vaccine any time in the coming years, it has nevertheless lucratively reaped rewards after selling its Moderna stock late last year when the price went out the roof. Merck has also partnered with J&J to increase production of the latter’s vaccine in order to meet demand.
Merck’s legacy of lawsuits for crimes and misdemeanors goes back at least to the 1960s. In 1975, it was busted by the SEC for illegal payments to foreign government officials from “approximately” 36 nations. The scam was orchestrated through personal bank accounts with the sole purpose of advancing drug approvals through foreign nations’ regulatory medical agencies.
One of the largest scandals in modern medical history was the company’s anti-inflammatory drug Vioxx that resulted in fines above $4.8 billion for causing over a minimum 60,000 deaths from sudden heart attacks and over 120,000 serious medical injuries. At its height, Vioxx was earning over $2 billion in revenues annually and it is estimated that 25 million patients were prescribed the medication. The securities class
action suit against Merck alone reached $1 billion, placing it in the top 15 securities lawsuits in US corporate history. The main criminal charge was Merck’s intentional withholding of scientific data about the drug’s adverse cardiovascular side effects.
Years after the settlement, Ron Unz, the publisher of The American Conservative, undertook his own investigation to validate Vioxx’s death toll. Analyzing the drug’s adverse effects over a longer time period, Unz estimated Merck may have been responsible for nearly half a million premature deaths in elderly patients, the drug’s primary target group. That is roughly the same number of total civilian, military and terrorist deaths from the US’s military escapades in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan combined.
Merck’s settlement of 47,000 pending lawsuits for personal injuries and 265 class action cases was a small pittance for the harm Vioxx left in its wake. Merck executives were never properly punished for willingly concealing the drug’s dangers in order to assure FDA approval.
In Australia, Merck’s efforts to increase Vioxx profits employed other forms of malfeasance. The Australian government launched a class action suit against the drug maker on charges that employees allegedly schemed a fake scientific paper that was ghostwritten for a medical journal in order to put Vioxx into a positive light. Testimonies during the trial stated data was completely based upon “wishful thinking.” Merck also founded the peer-reviewed journal Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine. The journal was a fraud; it was not properly peer-reviewed and its primary purpose was to promote Vioxx on the Australian continent.
Moreover, the class action lawsuit contained Merck emails accessed by Australian officials. The company’s internal communications allegedly ordered select employees to draft up a hit list of physicians who were critical of Vioxx. According to the documents, these physicians were targeted to be “neutralized” or “discredited.” Some, including Dr. James Fries at Sanford University’s medical school, were clinical investigators who happened to speak out about the drug’s shortcomings. One email stated, “We may need to seek them out and destroy them where they live…”
But Merck’s troubles with the dangers of its products, falsifying data about drugs’ efficacy and safety and exaggeration of medical claims go back sixty years. In the 1960s, the FDA discovered that the drug maker’s arthritis medication Indocin had not been properly tested for efficacy and its adverse effects were being completely ignored. In the 1970s, Merck’s drug dietheylstilbestrol (DES) prescribed for the prevention of miscarriages caused a flurry of vaginal cancer cases and other gynecological disorders. Merck had all along known that DES was carcinogenic based upon its own animal clinical trials. In 2007, its cholesterol drug Zetia was shown to increase liver disease. Again Merck had known about Zetia’s liver risks but withheld the clinical trial’s damning results.
It would also appear that Merck has managed to hijack US courts. This includes an early 2019 ruling by Trump’s corporate-friendly US Supreme Court to side with the drug maker and squash hundreds of lawsuits for failing to issue warnings that its osteoporosis drug Fosamax’s may contribute to debilitating bone fractures. A federal court in California found that Merck committed perjury for lying in a patent infringement case against Gilead Sciences over the latter’s blockbuster Hepatitis C drug Sovaldi. The judge ruled that Merck carried out a “systematic and outrageous deception in conjunction with unethical business practices and litigation misconduct.” It turned out that Merck’s patent claims were a sham and orchestrated by its legal division.
Besides pushing through the FDA dangerous medications onto the market, the company has also found itself in the courtroom on many occasions for allegedly price-fixing, routinely defrauding and overbilling states’ Medicare and Medicaid programs, and violating the Anti-Kickback Statute. In 2006, the IRS went after Merck for owing almost $2 billion in back taxes. According to the Wall Street Journal, Merck partnered with a British bank to create an offshore subsidiary in tax-friendly Bermuda to divert taxable revenue on its bestselling cholesterol drugs Zocor and Mevacor through a patent scheme. The company ran the operation for ten years before the FDA uncovered the racket.
Merck is America’s leading vaccine manufacturer. Despite public perception and the ruse that vaccines are somehow safer and more effective than pharmaceutical drugs in general, it is the same industry and corporate culture that manufactures both. Currently Merck markets vaccines for Haemophilus B, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B (individually and in combination), human papilomavirus (Gardasil), Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR), pneumococcal, rotavirus, varicella (chickenpox) and Zoster virus (for shingles). In 2010, Merck obtained exclusive rights to MassBiologics’ vaccine portfolio. The consequence is that Merck’s Adult Vaccine Portfolio expanded to include 9 of the 10 vaccines on the CDC’s adult immunization schedule. The company now holds almost a full monopoly on the government’s recommended vaccines
On its website, the FDA assures the public that “Vaccines, as with all products regulated by the FDA, undergo a rigorous review of laboratory and clinical data to ensure the safety, efficacy, purity and potency of these products.” However, not a single one of Merck’s vaccines has ever been tested in a scientifically viable double-blinded placebo controlled trial. In each case, the placebo in the control group was not inert, such as the use of sterile saline. Rather Merck only tested its vaccines with the viral component against a faux placebo containing the same ingredients, including aluminum, but minus the virus. Known as a “carrier solution,” the standard scientific protocol does not designate it as a proper placebo for measuring the efficacy and disease risks of a drug. And in the case of Gardasil, the trial was statistical trickery to mask Gardasil’s adverse effects. One placebo group received the company’s proprietary adjuvant amorphous aluminum hydroxyphospate sulfate (AAHS), a known neurotoxin. The adjuvant has yet to be properly tested for safety. One of the more serious risks of aluminum adjuvants is the triggering of an extreme autoimmune response, what Israeli immunologist Yehuda Schoenfeld has called “autoimmue/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants.”
In the Cochrane Database Collaboration’s 2016 analysis of Merck’s Gardasil, the investigators were so alarmed they filed a complaint against the European Medical Agency for failing to adequately assess the vaccine’s neurological harms. More recently, a meta-analysis published in Systemic Reviews journal concluded “HPV vaccines increased serious nervous system disorders and general harms.”
Robert Kennedy Jr is currently taking steps to sue Merck over the Gardasil deception. Kennedy’s in-depth investigations through his Children’s Health Defense organization has uncovered evidence that the vaccine increases birth defects in children conceived of HPV-vaccinated moms; miscarriages have increased 2000 percent above normal, and girls are experiencing serious reproductive complications, including infertility, at approximately ten-fold above the normal rate. During an interview on the Progressive Radio Network, Kennedy noted that there was 10 times greater risk of dying from cervical cancer among Gardasil trial participants compared to the general public. There is a 10-fold increase for ovarian failure, and 1 in 37 girls who receive the vaccine will experience an autoimmune disease after 6 months of receiving the series of injections. When we consider that 1 in 37,000 women have a chance of dying from cervical cancer, it puts HPV vaccines into a completely different light. Sadly, across the nation, politicians from both sides of the aisle in state legislatures, notably Governor Andrew Cuomo in New York, are seemingly doing Merck’s bidding to mandate Gardasil for all girls and boys upon entering school.
Based upon Kennedy’s research and documents received from Freedom of Information Act filings, during Merck’s own Gardasil clinical trials, 2.3 percent of girls and women between the ages of 9 through 26 developed a serious autoimmune disease and crippling neurological disorders within seven months of vaccination. The most frequent adverse effects were arthritis and anthropathy, autoimmune thyroiditis, celiac disease, hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, Raynaud’s Phenomenon, rheumatoid arthritis and uveitis. In other words, it was the aluminum adjuvant responsible for this enormous suffering. He stated that according to Merck’s own statistics, girls are one hundred times more likely to experience a serious adverse effect from the vaccine than to be protected from cervical cancer.
In a 2012 article published in the Journal of Law and Medical Ethics, researchers at the University of British Columbia wrote that ever since Gardasil was approved in 2006, Merck has engaged in an “overly aggressive marketing strategies and lobbying campaigns aimed at promoting Gardasil as a mandatory vaccine.” One strategy Merck has employed is to take advantage of FDA loopholes to fast track its drugs. In the case of its expanded Gardasil-9 for adults between the ages of 27 to 45, the company applied for fast tracking two days after the Journal of Toxicological and Environmental Health published a study that the HPV vaccine was lowering the probability of pregnancy for women in their 20s.
Unfortunately, the media has indiscriminately colluded with Merck. Drug companies, according to Kennedy, pay $4.5 billion to the major media networks and publications to promote their drugs. And none of the media outlets are willing to sacrifice their profits for advertising drugs on moral and ethical grounds.
Another scandal erupted within Merck’s vaccine business in 2010 after two whistleblowers gave testimony that the mumps’ component in its Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine was based on fraudulent data about it’s efficacy, and the company knowingly proceeded in order to corner the mumps vaccine market. Merck had been defrauding the US government, which purchases the MMR, for over a decade. The government and two Merck whistleblowers, virologists Stephen Krahling and Joan Wlochowski, filed a lawsuit against Merck for being in violation of the False Claims Act. According to the charges, Merck had “falsified its mumps vaccine test results to hit an efficacy rate of 95 percent. The company achieved this by adding “animal antibodies to a blood sample to give the impression of increased antibodies.” This would certainly explain why mumps outbreaks in summer camps and on college campuses are found to occur among those vaccinated.
Merck has gained enormous political and social influence over the national perception about vaccines. One example is Merck’s behind the scenes aggression against the flim Vaxxed. When the documentary film was officially selected to screen during the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival in Manhattan, we discovered in an earlier report that Merck left its fingerprints on the film’s removal and censorship. The Alfred Sloan Foundation is the festival’s largest sponsor; pro-vaccine advocate Bill Gates is also a notable contributor. One of the leading persons on the Foundation’s board of trustees was Dr. Peter Kim. Kim happens to be the former president of Merck’s Research Laboratories who was directly responsible for the launch of Gardasil and Merck’s other vaccines for the Zoster virus and rotavirus. The film presents a harsh indictment against Dr Julie Gerberding, the former head of the CDC who allegedly coordinated the cover up of data that confirmed thimerosal’s role in the onset of autism. After managing the agency’s operations to mine sweep the data and generate new studies with public funds to suggest thimerosal’s safety, Gerberding accepted her reward from the pharmaceutical industry by becoming the head of Merck’s vaccine division. In addition, according to the whistleblowing of a senior CDC scientist, Dr. William Thompson, Gerberding was allegedly responsible for destroying the CDC’s research that showed African American boys were at a substantially higher risk of becoming autistic from Merck’s MMR vaccine. Fortunately, Dr. Thompson, who was present during the order to shred documents, saved copies which he subsequently turned over to Congressman Bill Posy and an independent biologist Prof. Brian Hooker. Since then, Congress has refused to hold hearings thereby supporting the cover-up.
All told, these examples of Merck’s culture of greed, deception, political maneuvering and aggression has collectively injured countless people. Its prime directive is selling drugs; its history of crimes and misdemeanors should indicate the company holds little integrity in its commitment to prevent and treat disease. The full extent of the casualties from Merck’s drugs and vaccines may never be properly calculated. For firms such as Merck, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson, injuries and deaths are the necessary collateral damage of getting poorly tested products on the market and as fast as possible.
Can we really trust such a company with such a criminal reputation to be forthright about its product’s safety records? Therefore we recommend people to support the efforts of Bobby Kennedy and the Children’s Health Defense in its lawsuit against Merck’s Gardasil. A victory may well weaken the entire edifice of vaccine pseudoscience and the public will realize that for decades it has been little more than a house of cards.