USAID has just awarded $160 million to the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) for a cooperative agreement to regulate the pharmaceutical landscape in Africa. U.S. taxpayers are now funding a U.S. State Department approved plan developed so our government can help big pharma pimps. Here’s a look inside USP and this latest USAID plan.
If you scan the Board of Trustees of the NGO USP you will immediately run into BIG BUSINESS shining like the sleazy glow from some red-light district brothel in Paris or New Orleans. Aventis, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, India’s Laurus Labs, Eli Lilly & Company, Pfizer, Pharmacia, Upjohn, France’s Sanofi, and all the likely suspects are proudly listed in plain sight. The agri-giants are there too, smiling out at you like comic book villains from DC or Marvel. There’s FSG consulting executives proud to have been solving the world’s problems since the Soviet Union fell. FDA Chief Scientists are listed, and so are Washington regulatory specialists (and lobbyists) representing firms like Greenleaf Health Inc.
Ronald T. Piervincenzi, Ph.D., the CEO of USP could serve as the poster boy for big pharma and big Agra businesses. Ronald’s major in college way biomedical engineering. Ronald now sets the standards for most every medication sold in the United States. He got his start at Hofstra University on Long Island and from visits to the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC. He went to Duke University and got a “magical” full-time position with McKinsey & Company. You can read the rest of “Ron Piervincenzi: A Series of Fortunate Events” here.
You can see Ron here in Nigeria alongside USAID in Nigeria when the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) Kaduna laboratory was accreditated in 2017. At first glance, USP and USAID efforts appear viable, straightforward, and even altruistic and noble. This is from the press release on the most recent USAID-USP effort in Africa:
“To achieve the goal of PQM+, USP and its partners will work to strengthen governance and regulatory structures, optimize the allocation and use of resources, improve the supply of quality-assured medical products….”
USP and USAID capitalize on the problems of bad or illegitimate drugs administered for tough diseases like malaria. Here’s where our story gets interesting.
A Policy for Everyone and for Everything
The USP-USAID efforts in Africa have already led to a Kenya, Ghana and Malawi launch of the world’s first malaria vaccine. The vaccine, RTS,S, was first developed at the U.S. Army’s Walter Reed Army Institute for Research back in January 2001. According to the literature, it is the first and only vaccine to significantly fight malaria in children. RTS,S is to a great degree, a project of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. PATH, an NGO funded by the foundation, partnered with GSK, which one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies in getting the pilot programs started in Sub-Saharan Africa. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), is the sixth biggest pharma company in the world.
Some readers may recall, it was GSK that pleaded guilty to promotion of drugs for unapproved uses, failure to report safety data, and kickbacks to physicians in the United States back in 2012. The company forked over $3 billion (£1.9bn) in a settlement, the largest health-care fraud case, the largest settlement by a drug company.
I know it will make readers sleep better knowing that USP and USAID are on our side in partnering with transparent and reputable companies (I had to say it). I’d be negligent if I failed to point out that GSK Board Director, Dr. Jesse Goodman of GSK, is also President and Member of the Board of the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) and as a member of the Regulatory Working Group of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
I mentioned the NGO PATH and its role in this Africa initiative. Another company associated with a USP trustee, Sanofi announced the release of 1.7 million doses of Sanofi’s ArteSunate AmodiaQuine Winthrop (ASAQ Winthrop), announced 300 million treatments shipped to African countries since 2007.
Total funding for malaria control and elimination reached an estimated US$ 3.1 billion in 2017, and much of that was provided by governments. The U.S. provided $1.2 billion. From 2016 to 2017, the 10 highest-burden countries in Africa reported increases in cases of malaria. And malaria vaccines are only one class of drugs USAID and the USP are working to “control” in Africa. On the market side of things, this one class represents a $156.8 million dollar market by the year 2026, according to Marketwatch.
So, governments, philanthropists, NGOs, and taxpayers are helping companies like GSK not only to develop the drugs, but to do the marketing, distribution, and eventual sale of the drugs as well. Multiply malaria vaccines times hundreds of regulated preventions and cures. Now add in other programs and USAID influence in the region.
For instance, PATH is leading a five-year project to improve the health and development of 750,000 pregnant women and children by encouraging breastfeeding and improving health care for pregnant women and young children. Back in 2012, PATH was in the news for the Indian government claiming the NGO’s HPV vaccine resulted in the alleged death of seven girls belonging to an indigenous community (tribe) in India. Allegedly, 2,800 consent forms for the trials were signed by a hostel warden or headmaster, as the ‘guardian’. And now we know why USP is needed, I guess.
Bill Gates, Again?
This Global Justice Now report on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation from 2016 supports my contentions. The report covers everything from Microsoft tax avoidance to the BMGF having been either the largest or second-largest contributor to the World Health Organisation’s budget in recent years. The “Gated Development” report also accuses the BMGF of skewing global health policies to its own interests and legitimizing the role of corporations. Through the GAVI Alliance, Bill Gates is arm and arm with companies in the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers, which involves GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, and others already listed in my report.
Here is where we find the real incentive behind United States Pharmacopeia (USP) and USAID’s most recent announcement. It’s about “gating” the market, as Global Justice Now suggests. Turning to another vaccine, we see how drug companies ensure optimum prices for their drugs:
“Of particular note is the pneumococcal vaccine, which protects children from pneumonia – the biggest killer of children under five in developing countries.60 GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer – which are the only producers of the pneumococcal vaccine – have made over $19 billion in revenues since its arrival on the market in 2009.”
Vaccinating children in Africa is of vital importance. And in these vital areas, the sharks of our world operating like it’s feeding time with chum in the water. Protecting kids with vaccines today is 68 times more expensive than it was a decade ago. This is because the aforementioned cabal of “big pharmaceutical companies are overcharging donors and developing countries for vaccines that already earn them billions of dollars in wealthy countries” Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) reports on intellectual property rights for vaccines being the catalyst for overcharging.
Bill Gates has defended such complaints saying big pharma would not develop the drugs without the huge profit potential. But pharma developments are almost always subsidized by you and me. And now the market development is too. Mark Crispin Miller, professor of media, culture, and communications at New York University is quoted as having said:
“It is not inconceivable that you might find yourself someday reading a story about a Gates-funded health project, written up in a newspaper that gets its health coverage underwritten by Gates, reported by a journalist who attended a Gates-funded journalism training program, citing data collected and analyzed by scientists with grants from Gates.”
USAID, USP, PQM, billionaires like Gates, and the pharma backed NGOs are hard at work taking complete control of health and agricultural systems across Africa. This PQM Results Framework, 2016–2019 outlines the system put in place to regulate, quantify, and to accredit national drug/commodity manufacturers. Beneath the altruistic and philanthropic facade, we see market creation and profitability prospectus in USAID literature too. This Tanzania report reveals the long view of US State Department programs tied to NGOs:
“AED effectively engaged stakeholders including the government of Tanzania, the private sector, the non-governmental (NGO) sector, and donors. Private sector partners were quickly found to create supply and, equally important, to develop demand for the product. Producers saw the potential for a sustainable market for zinc treatment in Tanzania, supported both by retailers and continued procurement by the public sector.”
Drugged Into Hegemonic Submission
I should not need to point out the worldwide market for helping dehydration run by companies like Abbott, Mead Johnson, Sanofi, DripDrop Inc., Pendopharm, Johnson & Johnson, and others. As I said, USAID and the others are paying to develop, manufacture, distribute, as well as doing the marketing and sales networking for drugs. Then there’s the policy directives of the U.S. State Department, the CIA connection, and the scope of imperialism that puts the 19th Century great powers to shame.
Bill Gates invested in Abbott to the tune of $169 million in the mid-2000s. According to this LA Times story, by 2005, the foundation held nearly $1.5 billion worth of stock in drug companies whose practices have been widely criticized as “restricting the flow of key medicines to poor people in developing nations.”
By now most readers will be familiar with USAID’s role in destabilizing countries not aligned with Washington’s narrative. For those unfamiliar, this New York Times piece offers good information on the agency’s Office of Transition Initiatives actually competing with the C.I.A. on hi-tech propaganda and destabilization programs. But USAID’s covert programs reach much farther.
Wayne Madsen reported in 2014 on USAID Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) giving funds to foment dissension and rebellion in Cuba as part of USAID’s “civil society program.” The reader is already tasked, so I’ll leave off mentioning Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Caterpillar, Greenberg Traurig, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, and lobbyists.
USAID’s Legalized Hustling
This report from Nigel Bowie reveals the real USAID mission in Africa and around the world. The objective, to “Weaken and destabilize Nigeria as a Nation-State …and then come to the rescue of Nigeria under a humanitarian military banner,” is aided by multinational corporations. Even the Queen Mother’s BBC has reported on CIA efforts in Africa, and there is no evidence they stopped. From aiding big pharma and technology elites to creating killer drone facilities in Niger, the mess that is U.S. business and policy has melted into itself. Pharmaceutical companies admit to unscrupulous practices and pay billions in fines, U.S. corporations find tax havens and practice the deepest forms of insider trading, and people either die or are fleeced for trillions at the end. And this is what we call “aid” with “US” attached? I’ll finish off with examples of corruption from just one of these entities, GSK:
In 2016 and 2017 Chinese authorities accused GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) of using a network of travel agencies to channel around $489 million in bribes to health officials. The case was reopened in 2018. Before GSK’s monumental fine in 2012, Pfizer was fined $2.3 billion in 2009 for misbranding the painkiller Bextra with “the intent to defraud or mislead.” In 2011 Merck agreed to pay a fine of $950 million related to the illegal promotion of the painkiller Vioxx. In 2013 Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay a $2.2 billion fine to resolve criminal and civil allegations relating to the prescription drugs Risperdal, Invega, and Natrecor. And Bill Gates, USAID, and USP associated with these criminal companies as if nothing ever happened. The Department of Justice lists of indiscretions are right in front of Gates and the public, and we are to “trust” efforts in Africa? Instead of due diligence and greater scrutiny, companies like get off the hook with pharmaceutical murder.
I leave the reader with this story of Johnson & Johnson paying $572 million instead of $17 billion back in August for what the judge in causing an opioid crisis in America with its role with the highly addictive drug OxyContin. I wonder if USP bears any responsibility? No. Surely not.
Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, he’s an author of the recent bestseller “Putin’s Praetorians” and other books. He writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”