Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pins and Needles

No matter where you stand on vaccinations (pro or con) one thing everyone can agree on one thing. The rich experiment on the poor.

Experiment of vaccine against Dengue fever puts at risk hundreds of Puerto Ricans

Experiment of vaccine against Dengue fever puts at risk hundreds of Puerto Ricans

By Marta Villaizán Montalvo November 28, 2007

While the mass media causes us to believe that we are before an unprecedented epidemic of Dengue fever, a pharmaceutical company and a military hospital, knowingly and in complicity with doctors of the country, test a new vaccine against that illness that will endanger the lives of hundreds of Puerto Ricans that turn themselves in as subjects for the experimentation with commercial ends.

"At anytime has your son been stung by a mosquito?", a woman asked Carmen, mother of four children, in a health center.

"The fever is an illness that is transmitted through mosquitos. There is not a vaccine to impede the infection and sadly many children die", the lady told Carmen at the same time she was handing her the business card of a doctor with private office.

"We are investigating a new vaccine to fight the Dengue, do you want your children participate?, asked the lady. "We will pay you $50 for each of the two times each child receives the injection".

Carmen accepted and put the name of her four children on the list. When she arrived at her house she told her mother-in-law of the vaccine and commented that the money would be suitable for them to complete the payment of the light and the water.

"Don't think of it girl", the mother-in-law told Carmen. "If they are going to give you money, there are cats caged in there".

Without understanding the nature and the consequences of what was being offered, Carmen was on the verge of delivering her children as the volunteers to test the security and effectiveness of a vaccine in the experimental phase against the fever.

The patent of the vaccine, Tetravalent Live Attenuated Dengue vaccine, belongs to the United States Army, and of its investigation and development, it's entrusted to the Walter Reed Institute and the GlaxoSmithKline company .

That's how it's proven by the official protocol, "A Study of Two Doses of WRAIR Dengue Vaccine Administered Six Month Apart, to Healthy Adults and Children", published in Clinical, page of the National Institute of the Health.

According to the document, to know the defects of the vaccine and to verify if it is or not a dangerous substance, 720 healthy Puerto Ricans among the ages of 12 months to 50 years of age will receive two doses to be administered with an interval of six months between one another.

The Puerto Ricans will participate in a Phase II experiment . This phase is the second of three phases of experimentation with human beings that should pass a vaccine or medication to be approved by the Federal Agency of Drugs and Food (FDA).

To maintain the experiments positive course, it hat is to say if the volunteers are not made ill or die of Dengue fever because of the vaccine, nearly 5000 Puerto Ricans will then participate in the Phase III.

Breaking the usual plan of carrying out this type of experiment in various developing countries at the same time, the test of the vaccine will be carried out only in Puerto Rico.

As it is, the 24 doctors responsible for persuading the Puerto Ricans to sign up as volunteers of this dangerous experiment are also from Puerto Rico.

One of the methods of persuasion used by these doctors is to place recruiters in strategic places.

In the health center Carmen was in, a strategic place and under the erroneous impression that the vaccine was an official test, added the name of her children to the list of volunteers.

Carmen's reaction is the expected conduct in response to what in marketing is known as the strategy of the "noise".

The basic tool of the "noise" in the illness business is to supply to the mass media histories designed to create fear and to attract the attention to a new treatment.

Although the news of the epidemic of fever has been reviewed by all the media, it is El Nuevo Dia with over 100 articles published in little more than three months, the one that has developed the greater campaign of fear of the illness.

Officials of the Department of Health, the Illnesses Control Center, (CDC), scientific investigators of the universities, prestigious medical and even the one responsible for the monkeys in the Center of Primates of the Caribbean, have had something to say on the Dengue fever for El Nuevo Dia.

But there is a reason for so much noise.

The vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline is one of five vaccines fighting the fever in their experimental phase that compete for the business opportunity that bring with them global warming.

Economic specialists indicate that with the increase in the temperatures, tropical illnesses like Dengue fever will appear in zones of the world where today they are not habitual.

"Because everything that causes global warming won't be bad, or at least that's what the pharmacists think" indicates the newspaper The Economist, in its June 15, 2007 edition. "The increment of temperatures will double the world market of vaccines in the next 13 years situating it at 1.3 billion dollars", adds the article.

A report published in the prestigious magazine, Nature, in August of 2007, "Dengue Fever Climb The Social Ladder", confirms the business of the GlaxoSmithKline company with the Dengue illness.

The sudden prosperity of the Asian and Latin-American economies has caused the interest of pharmaceutical companies in certain illnesses. "The field has been seen enormously benefited by the increase in the potential market value of a vaccine against Dengue fever. This reality is intimately connected with the increase in the incomes of Asia and Latin America", said Nature magazine, Bruce Innis, scientist hired by GlaxoSmithKline for the development of vaccines.

Now, in spite of the intense fear campaign that the mass media, such as El Nuevo Dia have developed, the truth is that according to the information provided, the incidents of Dengue fever in Puerto Rico in 2007 do not seem to be greater that in previous years.

According to the statistics published on the webpage of the Department of Health, the epidemic this year was declared based on suspicious cases, where even the unfortunate deaths also suspected to be suspicious.

But what has become very suspicious is that an epidemic of Dengue fever has been declared just as the GlaxoSmithKline company is carrying out clinical experiments in Puerto Rico with a new vaccine against that illness.

Clinical experiments with human beings like those of the vaccine against Dengue fever, are being questioned at the international level.

Late but sure, the Government of the United States has reacted to the accusations, and in a report by the Office of the General Inspector of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), admits that the Administration of Drugs and Food (FDA) does not oversee correctly and dedicates very little effort to guaranteeing the welfare of the millions of people that participate in the clinical experiments.

"The federal officials of health do not know how many clinical experiments are being carried out", indicates the General Inspector Daniel R. Levinson, in The Food and Drug Administration' s Oversight of Clinical Trials, published in September of 2007. "They audit less than one percent of the testing places and in the rare occasions in which the inspectors do appear, they generally arrive well after the tests have finalized".

On the official webpage of the National Institute of the Health (NIH), forty experiments with human beings were registered promoted by the GlaxoSmithKline company in Puerto Rico. Eleven of them, including the vaccine against Dengue fever, are open to recruitment.

GlaxoSmithKline is one of the pharmaceutical companies that recently announced the dismissal of hundreds of employees as part of a restructuring plan.

Various businessmen of the pharmaceutical industry that participated in the tenth octave Annual Meeting of the Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (CHIRPS) maintain that this restructuring is a matter of transition from a traditional economy of manufacture to one of knowledge.

"There is no doubt that the recent closings of plants have had an impact on the economy and in the communities where we serve, nevertheless, the pharmaceutical industry of Puerto Rico is living a significant development in the sector of biotechnology and is blunting in the line of the scientific investigation", indicated the businessmen.

Thus, under the pretext of a new economy based on knowledge, the GlaxoSmithKline company closes its factory leaving in the street thousands of workers and orients its business of investment toward the experimentation with the Puerto Rican population of products such as the new vaccine against Dengue fever.

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