The Gates Foundation-Connected GlaxoSmithKline Indirectly Paid Scientists to Exaggerate Vaccine Needs
Summary: The philanthrocapitalist establishment whose Head of Global Health comes from GlaxoSmithKline has its work put to great scrutiny
THE Gates Foundation does not get much of a break because more and more people are beginning to understand its interests. It’s more complex than just “charity” as profit is being made without the foundation ever been taxed like a normal investor.
Today we turn our sceptical eye to the issue of patents and how the Gates Foundation promotes them. There is no question about the fact that Africa suffers from deadly diseases and Gates’ endeavours there are mostly commendable [1, 2]. It is a short-term solution which probably works well for both sides.
“The Gates Foundation acts as somewhat of a PR shim that intervenes where patents interfere/intersect with human toll.”What ought to be better understood is Bill Gates’ close relationship and interpersonal ties with the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, which even work well inside the Gates Foundation (holding key positions). The Gates Foundation acts as somewhat of a PR shim that intervenes where patents interfere/intersect with human toll. It’s a marriage of convenience because the price of life is the route to big profits.
The following new report from The Guardian reveals that flu experts were indirectly being paid by pharmaceutical giants in order to overplay the risk of swine flu and thus increase sales of vaccines. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is mentioned among the culprits. [via Richard stallman]
Report condemns swine flu experts’ ties to big pharma
Scientists who drew up the key World Health Organisation guidelines advising governments to stockpile drugs in the event of a flu pandemic had previously been paid by drug companies which stood to profit, according to a report out today.
An investigation by the British Medical Journal and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the not-for-profit reporting unit, shows that WHO guidance issued in 2004 was authored by three scientists who had previously received payment for other work from Roche, which makes Tamiflu, and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), manufacturer of Relenza.
City analysts say that pharmaceutical companies banked more than $7bn (£4.8bn) as governments stockpiled drugs. The issue of transparency has risen to the forefront of public health debate after dramatic predictions last year about a swine flu pandemic did not come true.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was a driving force behind GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s decision to share propietary drug research for fighting malaria, the Puget Sound Business Journal reports.
That’s the same GSK which corrupted science in order to increase sales. That’s the same GSK which brought to the Gates Foundation its Head of Global Health, who bullies researchers. Gates Keepers writes about those patented drugs which the Gates Foundation is promoting:
Read this carefully: “so that all the people who are smart about the disease are to some degree on the same side, working together.” Here is a fatal flaw. Gates thinks that you can define “all the people who are smart about the disease” and invite them to work together. He and his staff wouldn’t know how to begin to find “all the people”. They are elite technocrats. How many people LIVING with the disease are working together on his elite panels?
This whole “parenthood” role which the Gates Foundation has been taking for years is sometimes just a tad insulting (patronising even) and it marginalises opposing/alternative points of view. Researchers often complain about that. Here is someone who is challenging their priorities:
Gates really, really likes the idea of using vertical funds to tackle (and eliminated) diseases one by one, rather than taking a more gradual, measured approach. Why do the big philanthropists (Gates, and by proxy, Buffet) prefer to take such a direct approach, circumventing governments?
The easiest explanation is through personality or experience: Gates is an entrepreneur, used to getting smart people in a room together to solve problems; private solutions for important problems. Governments have, if anything, been a source of irritation for him, lobbing the occasional anti-trust action at Microsoft.
I think it’s probably unrealistic to expect the Gates Foundation to start up a health SWAp anytime soon – the same factors that led to its creation will always drive it to tackle problems the way it does. What we should hope (and push) for is a commitment to “do no harm.” This means reverting to practices that do not distort health objectives on the ground (i.e. internal brain drain of qualified health staff, shifting the debate away from enforcing health systems to tackling single diseases). Working on vaccines, either through direct funding or advance market commitments, is a an example of high risk but less distortionary practice. The huge sums of money the Foundation juggles could also be used to create incentives for more general research into fighting tropical maladies, and then subsequently subsidise the price for needy countries.
Here is another new example from NYTimes.com. It’s very relevant to the above example.
“iBio and Fraunhofer USA Center for Molecular Biotechnology Enter Agreement to Provide Global Access for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Vaccines,” says the title of this new press release.
iBio, Inc. and the Fraunhofer USA Center for Molecular Biotechnology (CMB) announced today an agreement which provides a license of iBio’s proprietary technology to CMB for the development and manufacture of Global Health Vaccines for, and financed by, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
To avoid misunderstandings, the problem here is not vaccinations. Immunology and drugs are important and often vital for the saving of lives, but the economics here are a tricky operation that leaves the public out in the dark. The drugs industry is not just another industry like IT. The drug industry is massive and that’s where the big money is. Gates has investments in this industry, so it’s in his interest to promote it. Another related area is biotechnology, where Monsanto got itself a nice monopoly on the food chain. “Bill Gates reveals support for GMO eg,” says this headline from last year (one that we’ve just found and missed at the time, even though we already quite knowingly stated the facts [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]).
As it has come to dominate the agenda for reshaping African agriculture over the years, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been very careful not to associate itself too closely with patent-protected biotechnology as a panacea for African farmers.
True, the foundation named 25-year Monsanto veteran Rob Horsch to the position of “senior program officer, focusing on improving crop yields in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Yet its flagship program for African ag, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), explicitly distances itself from GMOs. “AGRA does not fund the development of GMOs,” the organization’s Web site states.
But AGRA — co-funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, proud sponsor of the original Green Revolution — is just part of what Gates does around African ag. What precisely is the foundation getting up to over there? Is it pushing GMOs on African smallholder farms?
Earlier on we wrote about GSK inside the Gates Foundation (Head of Global Health), but what many people overlook is that fact that there are Monsanto employees inside the Gates Foundation. They use the Gates Foundation as a seemingly ‘charitable’ lobby vehicle through which to advance the companies’ objectives, often at the expense of the public (which pays government tax to be funneled into patents on drugs for the developing world). It’s a simple matter of economics, creating scarcity with patents while profiting from massive tax-free investments.
Critics castigate Gastes Foundation on policy demands; India launches native H1N1 vaccines;
While the Gates Foundation has been widely lauded for its work on a wide range of initiatives, including financing research on new vaccines to guard against common killers in developing nations, some critics have emerged to caution against the foundation’s demands to “toe the line” on its position in policy debates.
Watch another man from the Gates Foundation offering “farming aid” (possibly a veiled reference to GMO):
Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Shah served as director of Agricultural Development in the Global Development Program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In his seven years with the Gates Foundation, Shah served as the Foundation’s director of Strategic Opportunities and as deputy director of policy and finance for the Global Health Program.
They are getting increasingly connected to politics. Last week in The Times of India:
Obama appoints Indian-American to head U.S National Science Foundation
Clinton has Rajiv Shah, a former Gates Foundation executive and health expert, heading the USAID.
Clinton is connected to Bill Gates in ways that we explained before. When it comes to the Gates Foundation, former staff is often pursuing similar agendas after departure. To quote this new press release:
Academic Pharmacy Continues to Expand its Horizons at 2010 AACP Annual Meeting
He was the first business executive to serve as a public school superintendent and was the first executive director for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.