Essay:Big Pharma is funding the Anti-vaccine movement

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Anti-vaccine groups are everywhere, and it appears they are growing in number. They're well-organized and very vocal. Evidence suggests they've been quite effective in reducing the vaccination rate in numerous areas.

A central theme of the Anti-vaccine (AV) movement is the opposition to "Big Pharma", those massive multinational pharmaceuticals who push their dangerous vaccines onto our children purely for their own financial gain. The AV community is chiefly a grass-roots campaign of concerned parents, doing their best to prevent harm to their children. Big Pharma only cares about its profits, and they just don't care about the harm their vaccines are really doing.

Here's something really odd though - Big Pharma have been amazingly quiet in combating the anti-vaccine movement. A community group is publicly attempting to derail the vaccine-based profits of Big Pharma, yet there is simply *no* response.

This is doubly weird because Big Pharma generally launches a massive artillery campaign against anyone who even slightly endangers their bottom line. Johnson and Johnson just spent close to a billion dollars fighting a patent dispute with Abbott Laboratories. Yet despite this obvious threat to their huge vaccine profits, and despite having billions of dollars at their disposal to mount a fightback campaign, there hasn't been a word. Surely Big Pharma stands to lose so much money you'd expect them to launch a blanket TV campaign defending vaccines, with full-page newspaper ads and people handing out brochures and buttons in shopping malls.

So what on earth is going on? Has Big Pharma gone soft? Are these massive multinationals really getting dragged to their knees by a group of angry mothers?

The answer is no - Big Pharma aren't losing the battle, they're winning it. Big Pharma aren't fighting the anti-vaccine movement, they're supporting it. Sure, their support is very quiet, very 'behind the scenes' and definitely not public, but they're supporting it all the same.

Their reason? Vaccines are very, very bad for business.

Surprised? Don't be. Despite the constantly repeated claims about "massive vaccine profits" the truth (as revealed in the annual financial statements of these companies) is that vaccines simply aren't worth very much. The primary purchaser of vaccines are governments. In the USA the vaccine suppliers get squeezed as much as possible. In the many western countries with socialized medicine they don't even get to negotiate - the governments simply tell the suppliers how much they are going to get paid and that's that.

On top of that, the pharmaceuticals are constantly pressured to give away huge stocks of vaccines to impoverished countries. It just gets worse, the patents for the majority of vaccines expired years ago, so there's not even the chance to monopolize the trade. The bottom line: as far as anyone can tell, the only reason that pharmaceuticals are still even making vaccines is because the various national governments will take away their pharmaceutical licenses if they stop.

So the "vast vaccine profits" are an absolute myth, as anyone who reads these (publicly available) financial statements can verify. However vaccines are not just poor profit earners, they're also a business killer. Vaccines make people healthy. Healthy people don't need medication. More vaccines equal less profit. Less profit is bad, bad, bad.

So vaccines hurt profit. But if you could somehow convince people to stop taking vaccines, then you could reintroduce a number of persistent, revenue-generating diseases back into the marketplace. Profits would go back up. Even better, you wouldn't even need to convince everybody to stop immunizing, because of the phenomenon of 'herd immunity' (which means that you need 80-90% coverage for a vaccine to be truly effective). You'll only need to get a small but critical percentage to refuse, and you'll get your desired result.

Sure, it's not a totally flawless plan, because without vaccines a number of your potential new clients are going to die. However evidence suggests that the majority of them will survive, and a very large percentage of those survivors will end up with chronic symptoms requiring long-term medical care. This care will conveniently involve some recently-patented, very expensive medications.

Of course openly telling people to stop using vaccines would attract huge goverment anger, not to mention criminal charges. But if you could get some angry mothers to do your dirty work for you then you can wash your hands of any responsibility. Carefully place a few scientific papers that imply vaccines might be dangerous, and let the "grass roots" do the rest. Throw in some cash every now and then to keep their websites up and running. If the noise ever starts to die down, get another dubious scientific paper circulating so they can start chanting "vaccines are evil" all over again. If the government starts asking questions, front up to the hearing and say, "we're trying to stop all this disinformation, honest we are, but there are just so many angry mothers out there".

It is a truly brilliant strategy, and it's no surprise that finding rock-solid evidence of this scam will be difficult. Big Pharma has a lot of money, and they are very good at covering their tracks. But even though we'll never hear a pharmaceutical publicly admit they are funding the anti-vaccines groups, there is already enough circumstantial evidence to make it chillingly, uncomfortably, plausible. It also explains why the only people you ever hear defending vaccines are family doctors and badly funded community health departments.

You can't blame the anti-vaccine groups either - they're just everyday parents trying to do what's best for their children. The fact that their genuine concern and natural protectiveness has been harnessed to support the profit motive of Big Pharma is - quite simply - horrifying.

As a final note, in 2009 three pharmaceutical companies quietly lodged patents for drugs related to polio management. They did this with no fanfare, no press releases and no TV ads.

The vaccine for polio sells for 30 cents. The new polio medications will cost parents as much as $500 a week, and could be needed for years.

You do the math.