If we are winning the war against the autoimmune plagues, why does it feel so much like losing? Twenty-two years into the autism epidemic the parents of vaccine-injured children are like the rebels in Syria: outgunned, isolated, and largely ignored by the rest of the world. We’ve won some battles, HERE, but we have not yet been able to topple the pharmaceutical establishment and its enablers in medicine, media, insurance, and government.
The delay is economically disastrous. If the ASD epidemic ended today we would still have the cost of caring for the already afflicted. If prevalence continues to increase at 10% per year for another 22 years, one in ten 12-year-olds will be on the spectrum, and services and supports for our disabled adults will surpass the cleanup cost of two Sandy-scale hurricanes per year. Add to that other autoimmune disablers — asthma, allergies, and ADHD for starters — and preventable chronic diseases will force a major cut in the US defense budget or bankrupt us.
Why can’t we end this nightmare now? We know enough about the causes – toxins, both chemical and biological — to bend the curve down and start reducing prevalence. But we’re stuck. To shake loose, let’s try looking at the epidemic from a financial perspective, using insights from the industry I’m most familiar with, oil and gas.
As a teen growing up in Oklahoma in the 1960s, I asked Uncle Tever how to make money in the oil business. Tever was a petrochemical company vice president and a big picture visionary. He rode a private jet to New York and back to Tulsa every week. “Go down to the filling station and buy a quart of oil,” he said. “Bury it. When the price goes up, sell it.”
Twenty years later, when I was Executive Speechwriter for a Texas oil company, I too saw the big picture. When oil companies bid to buy each other, they’re not looking just at the things you and I see: refineries, brands, people, gas stations. Nor do they base their bidding primarily on current sales, customers, and cash flow. Instead they look first at “reserves” – oil, gas, and coal – which are safely underground. Like that quart of oil I didn’t buy. I also learned that wealth, in the oil business, is all about Wall Street, and Wall Street is all about future sales: the price of oil, coal, and natural gas multiplied by reserves.
Like any publicly traded business, pharma exists to create wealth for shareholders. Where is the wealth of the vaccine manufacturers Merck, Glaxo, Sanofi Pasteur, Pfizer’s Wyeth, Novartis? Partly in their products, their vaccines, their patents, their company-bought-and-paid-for research and publications. As well as their current sales and cash flow. But for the most part, it’s not.
It’s in their reserves. Our children and grandchildren.
Think of unborn children as barrels of oil in the ground. Their birth rate inflates the value of Merck and Glaxo stock, and as they grow into toddlers they help make CEOs Kenneth C. Frazier and Sir Andrew Witty very, very rich. Not just with current pharmaceutical sales (including prescription drugs and vaccines), but with the prospect of future sales. In other words, each pregnant, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAC)-compliant mom leverages the stock price of Merck et al. And stock price is where the unseen, unimaginable wealth and power of Pharmageddon reside.
Let’s look at how this works.
Each and every baby born in the USA is recommended for Hepatitis B immunization immediately, Day One, the birthday shot. And there are 10,800 babies born in the US every day. Merck and Glaxo split the market between them. Think they don’t count the babies? Imagine “Today’s Newborns” total flashed on a trampoline-sized monitor in the executive dining room and updated minute by minute, like election returns. Because at $22.66 per dose, the average private sector price the hospital pays to Merck and Glaxo’s globally integrated distributors for their Hep B vaccines – CEO Ken Frazier and his British counterpart Sir Andrew Witty get an estimated $244 thousand dollars from the birthday shot flowing into their company coffers every day.
That’s only the beginning. Like the tobacco companies learned, start ‘em early and they’ll come back. Especially if the doctor says. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommended immunization schedule, these same newborns are supposed return at about two months and again at six to eighteen months for more Hep B shots, a total of three. So at $22.66 per shot times three shots, that’s a total of $67.98 per kid, about the price of barrel of oil. At the current US birth rate, assuming parents are compliant with the AAP-recommended immunization schedule, Ken and Andrew can chalk up $734,184 on the birthday shots and follow-up sales of Hep B vaccine alone, per day, based on the “future value” of each child.
When you check your bank balance, wouldn’t you like to see pop up on your computer screen “Cash flow up $734 thousand today — Thanks USA Moms!”? I would. KA-CHING. “You’re a Winner!”
But wait a minute – we’ve been talking US births only. For every kid born in the USA, there 34 human beings born somewhere else on earth. That’s 384,000 planetary births per day. Those newborns need shots for Hepatitis B, primarily a sexually transmitted disease, about as much as our American kids age zero need them -- in the vast majority of cases, unless the mother is a carrier, not at all. And at the Preferred Customer discount rate, the World Health Organization will fork over an average of $11.12 per dose. If Ken and Andrew could get 100% world buy-in and compliance on Hep B shots (not counting income from the ten other vaccines on the US immunization schedule, each delivered multiple times), they could add over $12.8 million to their per diem cash flow. That’s almost $13 million per day.
Here’s my point: the potential for big vaccine-driven profits goes a long way toward explaining why Merck has a Wall Street value of about $130 billion. Investors are looking ahead. The price for a piece of Merck & Company includes the future value of our children, the company’s reserves. Technically most of these kids aren’t born yet, but they might as well be. They’re already making money for Ken and his investors. They’re figured into the share price, and Merck is using them to make acquisitions, shore up dividends, and fund the new product pipeline.
Notice that we’re not talking about other pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer’s Wyeth, Novartis, Sanofi Pasteur. I haven’t broadened the focus to include Gardasil, MMR, flu shots, or the DNA-recombinant medical chimeras that pump up Merck’s stock price (Gardasil, an off-schedule vaccine, added $581 million to Merck’s third-quarter 2012 income, a 31% increase over third quarter previous year). Nor have I breathed a word about the dozens of new vaccines scheduled for clinical trial. But you get the picture. Pharmageddon is Goliath on steroids. And the steroids are our kids.
The good news is that each pregnant mom who is not AAP-compliant leverages the stock price down. De-leveraging is why pharmaceutical companies panic when vaccination rates drop. Billions of dollars in value just disappear, and Ken and Andrew have already spent the money. Did you see Carl Rove go white when Ohio vote counts for his candidate came up short? Just a few hundred votes off projection, and the whole structure falls. Likewise, the unimaginable wealth and power of pharma is a house of cards.
Let’s end this epidemic. Let’s aim for rapid, transformative change. Here are five smooth stones for your slingshot.
David had five stones in his pocket but he only needed one. Grab your stone, load your slingshot, and let’s bring the
house of cards tumbling down.
Dan E. Burns, Ph.D., is the father of a 24-year-old son on the autism spectrum and the author of Saving Ben: A Father’s Story of Autism. Dr. Burns is an Age of Autism Contributing Editor and is Adult Issues Liaison for AutismOne. He facilitates planning, vocational programming, and funding for An Independent Me (AIM Ranch), a campus in the Austin, Texas area for teens and young adults on the Autism Spectrum. He chairs The Autism Trust USA, (www.theautismtrustusa.org), a 501(c)3 charity focused on empowering parents to organize communities where their ASD children and others can live and work, enjoy life, continue to heal, and give back to society. Dr. Burns serves on the Executive Board of the Canary Party.