Is GSK Unlawfully Marketing Their Vaccines To You?
Vaccines have long been pushed as a benevolent public service in a class high above the trenches of dirty marketing tactics and slick ad campaigns. Yet the truth is vaccines are for-profit products that have enjoyed liability protection by law since the late 1980s making them the backbone of pharmaceutical company profit margins. Judging by GSK’s new ad it appears that the green light has been given for Big Pharma ad departments to conjure up vaccine scare campaigns to propagandize the public with.
GSK’s recent ad is simple using the image of a grandmother’s face, juxtaposed with a wolf’s head, to symbolize the ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ danger the grandmother has embodied because she is not vaccinated against pertussis with GSK’s vaccine.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), under its Truth In Advertising law, states the following:
“When consumers see or hear an advertisement, whether it’s on the Internet, radio or television, or anywhere else, federal law says that ad must be truthful, not misleading, and, when appropriate, backed by scientific evidence…The FTC looks especially closely at advertising claims that can affect consumers’ health…”
GSK’s commercial has one simple premise surmising it is better to be vaccinated than to not be vaccinated against pertussis. Yet GSK’s ad has holes in it revealing major scientific gaps that can’t be ignored.
A 2014 study done by members of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal refutes GSK’s vaccine ad claims making it appear to violate FTC’s Truth In Advertising law. The acellular pertussis (aP) vaccine, a component of the DTaP and TDaP vaccines, is the primary strain used in the US for all age groups. The 2014 study states the following:
“In this study, we show nonhuman primates vaccinated with aP were protected from severe symptoms but not infection and readily transmitted Bordetella pertussis to contacts.”
According to the study, not only did the aP vaccine fail to prevent infection in recipients, it turned the vaccinated into non-symptomatic transmitters of pertussis giving a possible scientific explanation for the resurgence of the illness in pockets of vaccinated populations. The science laid out in the FDA study backs one claim GSK’s ad gets right when it claims “Unfortunately many people who spread it [pertussis] don’t know they have it.” According to the 2014 study findings, the people who “don’t know they have it” may turn out to be the non-symptomatic vaccine recipients not the unvaccinated populations as GSK’s ad would lead the viewer to believe.
What does the US Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have to say about the pertussis vaccine? According to the CDC, and as stated in GSK’s commercial, the agency “recommends everyone” get the vaccine. No age ranges, no dose limits and no screening for individual susceptibility to vaccine injury, just a one-size-fits-all approach. It should be noted that the TDap and DTap vaccines regularly appear on the quarterly meeting reports submitted by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) on cases settled for vaccine injuries and deaths as mandated by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP). According to the DOJ’s report, TDap and DTap injury cases are continuously settled in vaccine court for disorders such as developmental delays, encephalitis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, neurological injuries, transverse myelitis, Bell’s palsy and others.
Should you trust GSK at face value despite modern science refuting their advertising claims?
According to The Global Research Project, the GSK rap sheet states, “In recent years, GlaxoSmithKline has become known as the company that pays massive amounts to resolve wide-ranging charges brought by U.S. regulators and prosecutors. These included a $750 million payment relating to the sale of adulterated products from a facility in Puerto Rico and a record $3 billion in connection with charges relating to illegal marketing, suppression of adverse safety research results and overcharging government customers. The company also set a record for the largest tax avoidance settlement with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.”
Since 2003, GSK has paid approximately $27.3 billion in criminal and civil charges, pricing schemes, false claims, misleading advertising, environmental penalties, accounting violations and tax disputes.
Due to continued warning letters sent by the FDA, criminal and civil settlements and other penalties, GSK agreed to sign a 122-page Corporate Integrity Agreement in 2010 with the Office of Inspector General of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that lists numerous measures the company had to adopt to make it more likely to comply with federal laws and regulations.
Aside from the proven unscientific and potentially dangerous health claims made by GSK’s new pertussis vaccine ad, did the company also violate their 2010 Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Inspector General of the HHS?