Brownstone » Articles » Regulatory Capture in the Age of Covid

Regulatory Capture in the Age of Covid

SHARE | PRINT | EMAIL

Our healthcare system is broken, a fact nobody would have disputed in pre-COVID times. Regulatory capture is a reality, and the pharmaceutical industry is fraught with examples. Yet we trusted private-public partnerships to find an optimal solution to a global pandemic, assuming a crisis would bring out the best in historically corrupt institutions.

Here is a brief list of less-than-savory behavior demonstrated by our titans of healthcare: 

  • Pfizer and J&J plead guilty to “misbranding with the intent to defraud or mislead” and paying “kickbacks to health care providers to induce them to prescribe [their] drugs”, resulting in fines of $2.3 billion in 2009 and $2.2 billionin 2013, respectively. 
  • Pfizer settled another lawsuit for “manipulating studies” and “suppressing negative findings” just a few years later. 
  • Moderna has never developed an approved drug yet one of their board members was placed in charge of Operation Warp Speed. This certainly is unrelated to the fact that they received the most federal vaccine R&D funding and have received over $6 billion from our government since the start of the pandemic.
  • Gilead Sciences paid $97 million in fines because it “illegally used a non-profit foundation as a conduit to pay the Medicare co-pays for its own drug”.
  • In 2005, AstraZeneca’s drug Crestor was shown to be linked to a life-threatening muscle disease while the company withheld evidence of this and two dozen other effects from the public.
  • In 2012, GlaxoSmithKline paid $3 billion in fines as it “failed to include certain safety data” relating to their drug, since labeled to be connected to heart failure and attacks.

Thankfully our public health guardians are in place to protect us from the greed and deceit of the private sector, right? Wrong. Another brief list:

  • FDA worked behind the scenes with company Biogen to alter previously conducted trials of their $56,000 per year Alzheimer’s treatment, and “by removing the subset of people for whom the drug didn’t work, they found a slight statistical effect in favor of the drug.” Even after doing this, an advisory committee voted 10-0 against approving the drug. The FDA approved the drug anyways, causing three committee members to resign.
  • In that case, the third-party advisors did the right thing. This is not always the case… A study by Science Magazine tracking 107 FDA advisors for four years, found that 62% received money from related drug makers with 25% receiving over $100k and 6% receiving over $1 million. It only takes a few corrupt advisors to fix a panel and feign medical consensus.
  • The WHO has come to be dominated by China over the last 17 years by bribing poor nations and altering the organization’s voting structure to ensure their candidates obtain high positions (most notably director-general).
  • WHO parroted false claims made by the CCP in Jan 2020 that COVID-19 had “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission” (still on Twitter!), despite receiving contrary evidence from Taiwanese health monitors in December 2019 and during which time Chinese hospitals were overrun, requiring mass disinfections across villages (see this interesting thread on why the following photo may be CCP propaganda):
A worker in a protective suit uses a large fogger to disinfect outdoor areas in a village in Qingdao, Shandong province, as the deadly new coronavirus continues to spread in China. Reuters
  • If you need more proof that the WHO is in China’s pocket, just watch this clip.
  • In 2017, it was revealed that the CDC Director for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention had been secretly communicating with Coca-Cola, providing guidance on how “to influence world health authorities on sugar and beverage policy matters”.
  • As for Fauci and the NIH, I can’t do any better than Dr. Chris Martenson in his video analyzing Fauci’s declassified emails. One thing is clear, the Wuhan research was gain-of-function.

Why does this matter? 

As mentioned above, the WHO failed to warn the world of the magnitude of the threat. Here in the US, our public health ailments are a bit more complex. These systems are mired in good old-fashioned crony capitalism, fascism, corporatism, mercantilism, protectionism…. fancy words for when private companies work with governments to subvert the forces of competition. The suppression of research into off-patent drugs is a notable symptom of this problem.

While there are countless drugs to which this applies, we will discuss ivermectin. First, addressing the drug’s dismissal by its own manufacturer, Merck, let it be known that ivermectin is no longer under patent. Merck no longer owns exclusive rights to it’s production. The forces of competition have been bestowed upon the drug, thus making it far cheaper. Merck is also currently rolling out an oral COVID treatment, which the US government is funding $1.2 billion to research. This would be under patent and explains their dismissal of ivermectin.

While it’s important to note that ivermectin’s effectiveness is still up for debate, a signal that it could be effective against COVID-19 was discovered in early April 2020 through a study at the University of Monash in Australia. The drug is FDA-approved, has existed for 40 years, won a Nobel Prize, partly due to its extremely favorable safety profile when used at recommended levels. Given the crisis and ivermectin’s safety, it should have been used immediately in hospitals, so it could have been administered safely and its effectiveness been observed, especially given the fact that there were no recommended treatments at the time, eliminating the possibility of an adverse reaction to another medication. 

Instead, a week after the Australian study was published, the FDA advised against ivermectin for COVID-19 treatment, forcing desperate people to the black market and causing them to self-prescribe versions of the drug intended for animals. This decision surely had nothing to do with the $615 million in lobbying put forth by the health sector in 2020. Would love to see a FOIA on how that money was spent.

The FDA noted subsequently that “additional testing is needed”. To date, there has not been a single completed, government-funded study on the effectiveness of ivermectin against COVID-19. Ivermectin is currently being studied in the NIH-funded ACTIV-6 trials, but it took the NIH well over a year since the start of the pandemic to grant the funding.

Meanwhile, they have funneled billions towards research into vaccines and patented treatments. The NIH funded trials for remdesivir, still under patent with Gilead, despite being less effective and having more severe side effects than ivermectin. FDA approved remdesivir under EUA despite published trials later stating “remdesivir was not associated with statistically significant clinical benefits”. As long as a pharma giant stands to profit, it will lobby and our government will be there to provide funding.

Hospitals are open to liability when the FDA does not approve a drug for a specific use, making doctors reluctant to prescribe. Funding randomized controlled trials to convince the FDA is immensely expensive, with the median cost being $19 million to achieve approval. Given ivermectin is off patent, the only way to raise these funds would be through a government grant or crowdfunding. The former option is hopeless as we’ve seen. The latter, while difficult, is possible when people can be educated and persuaded. 

This brings us to the final culprit, Big Tech.

When cities are locked down and it is forbidden to gather in large groups, public discussion must take place primarily online. Crowdfunding requires the freedom to collaborate. However, discussion of ivermectin has been suppressed across social media:

People need to be able to work together to solve problems that our government clearly will not, but they cannot do this without open communication.

The timeline is important to keep in mind in order to grasp the consequences brought on by this failure of our institutions. The pandemic was officially announced in March 2020. We have endured a year of lockdowns, over a third of small businesses closing for good, trillions of dollars diverted, an additional 14 million people facing famine due to lockdowns (some estimates much higher), diminished education from remote learning, mental health issues, rise in crime, the list goes on…

All of this, when we may have had effective treatments as early as April 2020, which our government not only failed to investigate but actively suppressed? Our healthcare system isn’t just broken – it is actively working against public health interests. 

This version republished from the author’s Substack 

Brownstone Authors and Contributors

  • Liam Cosgrove graduated as a mathematics major from UCSB. He is 26 years old and currently works as an editor at Real Vision Finance.

SHARE | PRINT | EMAIL
Stay Informed with Brownstone