We may sound like old cranks when we say that the reason for the current health witch hunts is because the institution of “public health” is plainly sold out to the pharmaceutical multinationals, and thus has little credibility.
Of course, the antitobacco industry says that we make such a claim only because we are smoking “addicts” — and of course, that is not true. Coherent with our tradition of substantiating our claims, here is proof once again. Try this article from the Italian mass-media organ “La Repubblica”, from which we translate the important parts:
“From telephone tapping a new thread emerges in the [police] investigation on the relationship [between the public health system] and pharmaceutical multinationals. Doctors would enrol patients as ‘guinea pigs’ for pharmacological tests in exchange for pay-offs. The Order of Physicians says ‘we will investigate’. The pharmaceutical multinationals enrolled hospital patients for experimentation, and they promised contributions, financing and scholarships to doctors. In other words: patients are treated as guinea pigs, and gifts are passed on to doctors so they can make more money.”
“Manipulated job competitions for physicians, power struggles between departmental head doctors and luxury trips passed as ‘professional expenditures’ are no longer the only issues in the investigation into public health by the magistrates, and for which the magistrates have already issued 46 warrants for just one hospital. A report of prosecutor Enrico Cieri reveals that the enrolment of patients is ‘strongly induced by some pharmaceutical industries with the promise of payoffs. It has surfaced how several doctors go out of their way to push as many patients as possible into study protocols, in exchange for money and other benefits.’ … Pressures are applied to family doctors too.”
Here is an excerpt of a phone conversation between two hospital physicians, one in the city of Bologna and the other one in Rome, as reported by "La Repubblica": “What happened, are you stuck? We got to 90 patients already, and you are going like snails.” Answer: “[we cannot do more because] we are watched by the police and we can’t have parallel visits, so we have to pass the visits as urgent… it’s all a f[**] mess, not easy. If I had the breath tests done or could do them myself, I would send you 300 patients a day”. Another doctor, speaking with the offices of a pharmaceutical multinational: “Our medical office is proceeding. Out of 300 patients, we’ve enrolled 150 already. We are going like rockets. Rome is going slower, but as soon as I am finished with the enrolments here, I am going to eat up the Roman patients myself, I’m not gonna wait for anything.”
This is the last episode of a very long chain of pharmaceutical corruption scandals in Italian “public health” in a saga that has been going on for years. Girolamo Sirchia, former minister of “health” and idol of the Italian antismokers for being the questionable father of the Italian smoking ban is awaiting trials on multiple counts of pharmaceutical corruption. In this last piece of news – and this point is, of course, not highlighted by the mass media – the interesting element is that, amongst those being investigated, there are prominent antismoking operatives, including some in public office who have even proposed smoking bans outdoors in the name of “public health”.
…And if you think that the problem is limited to Italy, wake up: the problem is endemic – from the top of the World Health Organization all the way down to the hospital (or doctor) near you. The causal link between antitobacco and Big Pharma is fully demonstrated – and not with recall questionnaires on memories of exposure: with investigations, trials and cash.