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The Ubiquitous Prof Pollard: How Serious is British Medical Journal About Commercial Influence?

Pollardandrew2.previewby John Stone

Recently, British Medical Journal has been signalling an ambitious  intent to rid public health of commericial influence 'COMMERCIAL INFLUENCE IN HEALTH: FROM TRANSPARENCY TO INDEPENDENCE', but how serious is it? In this regard I wrote first to its on-line correspondence column, Rapid Responses, and then when my letter was not published to the lead author of the pilot paper Roy Moynihan and journal's editor in chief, Fiona Godlee, which in turn was not replied to. I was drawing their attention to the story familiar in the pages of Age of Autism of Prof Andrew Pollard.

Prof Pollard is the lead developer among other things with Oxford Vaccine Group (OVG)  of the Meningitis B vaccine, Bexsero. OVG, which is also part of Oxford University, develops vaccines in partnership with the pharmaceutical industry. Back in 2013 Oxford Vaccine Group became affiliated to the newly created agency Public Health England (PHE), a mysterious agglomerate body working within the United Kingdom National Health Service which seems to have been created with the intention of escaping normal governmental accountability.

Shortly after its creation the then Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, wrote to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the committee which recommends vaccines to the NHS schedule (and is also affiliated to PHE),  to urgently consider the case for Bexsero. The JCVI passed over this unusual request in June 2013 but Prof Pollard was himself appointed to head the JCVI for the very next meeting in October 2013, and under his chairship the vaccine was recommended to the infant schedule at his second meeting in February 2014. Soon after this event negotiations began for GSK to take over the vaccine division of Novartis which manufactured Bexsero, and these were completed early in 2015. This was by chance just in time for Hunt to come to an agreement with GSK over the provision of Bexsero and for him to announce the deal before the May 2015 general election. The commercial prospects of the product took off.

This is just part of the picture. Prof Pollard is adviser to the British and European licensing agencies, he sits on the board of the Jenner Vaccine Foundation until earlier this year with Dr Norman Begg Vice-President and Chief Medical Officer of  GSK Biologicals: he has connections with many products which are recommended by the JCVI. If BMJ did not think the instance was relevant Moynihan could have written to explain their position. Instead there is silence, while they back off discussing facts which are well inside the public domain, if largely hidden.

BMJ need to show they mean business.

The correspondence to -  but not with BMJ - is below.

Dear Prof. Moynihan,

I do not know whether there could be legal reasons why...has not posted on-line my letter of 5 December (see below) but there could not be a network of influence more germane or central to the issues you and BMJ are raising. This is certainly not a personal issue about Prof Pollard, but the ubiquitousness of his name poses extremely serious questions. The director of Oxford Vaccine Group (an agency of Public Health England) which develops vaccines with the industry is also the Chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (another agency of PHE) which recommend products to the UK schedule. He also acts as an advisor  to the MHRA  and  EMA, which was extensively discussed in the Nordic Cochrane complaints  about HPV vaccines. OVG took part as well in trials of the controversial Pandemrix vaccine in 2009 prior to marketing. I am just sketching in a few issues which could extend over many products.

It is not my view that Prof Pollard is individually to blame for this opaque situation since all these institutions are presumably aware of the potential conflicts and allow them to continue. I personally raised the problem of the OVG/JCVI conflict with the DH, PHE and in the Scottish Parliament to no effect. But I do believe there is an obligation for those who know about these problems to bring them into the light of day, and this could not be an area of greater legitimate public concern. I hope BMJ will see fit to act.

I also attach for information the GSK document 'Evening of Evidence' 30 September 2015.

With all good wishes,

John Stone (UK Editor, Age of Autism)

34 Outram Road, London N22 7AF

44 20 8888 7109 

cc Fiona Godlee, ...

Re: Pathways to independence: towards producing and using trustworthy evidence - the case of vaccines

Dear Editor

I express concern about the prestige and doctrine of quasi-infallibility accorded to vaccines, which even put them in a different category from other medical products [1]. The assumption that all medicines are double blind placebo safety tested  was called into question in these columns in relation to vaccines earlier this year and unfortunately not satisfactorily answered [2]. It often seems that the imperative to ward against infectious disease has itself become reckless.



As an example, the following facts are recorded in an Oxford University submission to Ref2014 [3]:

"Oxford University research has also led to the planned use of vaccines against serogroup B meningococcal disease, which have been licensed and recommended for the prevention of disease in high-risk individuals, and broader use is under
consideration...The first global clinical trials in infants of a quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine (MenACYW, Menveo, Novartis vaccines)..., a combination Haemophilus influenzae type b-serogroup C meningococcal vaccine (Menitorix, GSK vaccines)...and the first trials of the leading serogroup B meningococcal candidate vaccine (MenB, Bexsero, Novartis
vaccines)...were undertaken in Oxford and Professor Pollard was the chief investigator for the panEuropean phase 3 study of the MenB vaccine (1,885 infants enrolled)... These studies showed that the vaccines were safe and highly immunogenic in infants and toddlers..."

But also of note was when Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation met to discuss Bexsero in February 2014 and it was agreed to recommend the vaccine for infant use in the UK  (para.72) Prof Pollard himself was in the chair [4]. I note that Secretary of State for Health, the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt, was himself involved over the preferment of this product [5].

The Oxford submission states that the products were "safe" but there seems even under current testing with Bexsero  to be numerous and sometimes serious provisos [6].

I submit that the same transparency and safety standards should be required for the marketing and recommendation of vaccines as for other medical products, not least because of the blanket way in which they are administered to entire populations. Statements that products are safe when they have hazards should not be allowed.

[1] Moynihan et al, 'Analysis Commercial Influence in Health: from Transparency to Independence: Pathways to independence: towards producing and using trustworthy evidence', BMJ 2019; 367 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l6576 (Published 03 December 2019)

[2] John Stone, 'Re: Response to John Stone (2019 Jul 24)', 29 July 2019, https://www.bmj.com/content/365/bmj.l4291/rr-37

[3] REF2014: EFFECTIVE DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT AND EVALUATION OF MENINGITIS VACCINES http://impact.ref.ac.uk/casestudies2/refservice.svc/GetCaseStudyPDF/15529

[4] JCVI minute of meeting  Tuesday 11 and Wednesday 12 February 2014, https://app.box.com/s/iddfb4ppwkmtjusir2tc/1/2199012147/229171703722/1

[5] Letter of Jeremy Hunt to acting JCVI Chair Andrew Riordan c.June 2013, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/239394/SoS_letter_to_JCVI_Men_B_Vaccination_logo.pdf

[6] John Stone, 'Re: Child vaccination rates in England fall across the board, figures show', 4 October 2019, https://www.bmj.com/content/366/bmj.l5773/rr-12

 

GSK Programme

 

 

Comments

John Stone

Just to clarify - I stated below that most of the MHRA’s execs came from GSK. This was probably an exaggeration, nevertheless the CEO for the last five years until September, Dr Ian Hudson, left SKB in 2001 - shortly before it was merged with GlaxoWellcome to form GSK - to become a director of the MCA as it then was. For decades people have moved in the U.K. between government and industry with virtually no questions and certainly no delays (not even the 10 months that Gerberding waited after leaving the CDC to join Merck). It remains the case that the MHRA, while notionally an agency of the British government is solely dependent on the industry for its income. If anything the government only seeks to strengthen its ties with an industry it purports to regulate.

https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2017/12/06/tom-jefferson-the-uk-turns-to-witty-vallance-and-van-tam-for-leadership-revolving-doors/

Hudson is now senior adviser to the Gates Foundation.

https://uk.linkedin.com/in/ian-hudson-22207111

This was an article on institutional conflicts - we are not talking about whether people are jolly good chaps or not, the trouble is that all this is in your face.

The delusion of politicians is that they have to break the fundamental rules of good government for reasons of trade but what this costs the nation in terms of poor regulation, over-medication and chronic ill-health probably outweighs the financial benefits many times over.

In 2005 the House of Commons Health Committee wrote an excellent report on this catastrophic state of affairs but nearly 15 years on no lessons have been learned and it all seems a hundred times worse.

Angus Files

Jenny all you write is sadly very true and what for profit and control.Well done on refusing the vaccine as we all know they are mostly cumulative but taken enough times they have to lead to a malfunction in the body leading to disablement or death.I cant say that I have ever heard anyone say I feel 10 years younger I`ve just had that marvelous flu vaccine..although I have heard people say that after coming out of HBOT tanks,sunbeds,yoga, and many other more senisible health and immune boosters..All those qualifications and hounours that Pollard has he should have a following of proportions to Jesus Christ I dont see any ,just a Harold Shipman lookalike.

I wont ever be part of a Drs bonus scheme much to their annoyance.


Pharma for Prison

MMR RIP

Benedetta

Kawasaki - they just don't know! That is what they told me. I continued to vaccinate, even my other child.

With very bad outcomes that saddens my heart.

The only thing they told me at the time that parents in a survey had one thing in common, and that was they had their child around a carpet that had just been cleaned. It could be in their own home, or their grandparent's home, or a friend's home, or the church, or community center.

Even after all I went through with my son; I was lead to believe it was the immune's system strange reaction to a virus. it was only a snarling ped that just barely hinted as he laughed in my face for me not seeing the obvious. He hinted only after my daughter received her high school tetanus shot that was really a DPT vaccine.

In recent years, I was kicked off of Joe Kawasaki's website when I simply said that Kawasaki happens because of vaccines.

Oh, and on Joe's Kawasaki website; the main doctor out in California reported that Kawasakis occurs in the months in the fall and not because maybe school starts and kids gets vaccinated, Oh no, but no; its when the winds from the east blow south then west. So living out in California get ready for your children to get Kawaskis if the winds blow in from the ocean, coming from Japan or China strange like ---- ?

I never, ever imagined that if we got leaders that lied to us, they would be such idiots to lie so unsophisticated. We in the end are all idiots. Me included. Chopin for sure is included too.

John Stone

Fred

Setting aside my well-founded distrust of the MHRA:

https://www.bmj.com/content/364/bmj.l1259/rr

Kawasaki is on the march:

https://www.bmj.com/content/367/bmj.l6447/rr

But how often would it be reported as a vaccine side-effect - why given the attitude of the MHRA or of Fred Chopin would you even bother...

Officials whine about measles but what about Kawasaki: why aren’t parents told to look out for it after vaccination?

As far as I know you are not a paediatrician but if you were how would a parent reporting an adverse event deal with your withering sarcasm?

The MHRA btw is 100% paid for by the industry and most of its execs come from GSK.

Frederic Chopin

John,

My point is that since post-marketing surveillance hasn't shown a link between Bexsero and Kawasaki disease what else are you concerned about? That was the only potential serious adverse event you mentioned.

Elizabeth Hart

FYI, please see my submission to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison questioning Murdoch media/News Corp’s influence on Australia’s taxpayer-funded coercive vaccination policy, a shocking example of the manipulation of taxpayer-funded vaccination policy: https://elizabethhart.files.wordpress.com/2019/12/conflicts-of-interest-influencing-australias-vaccination-policy-murdoch-media_news-corp.pdf

My submission to Prime Minister Scott Morrison includes reference to the Murdoch media/News Corp's lobbying for the GlaxoSmithKline Bexsero meningococcal B vaccine to be added to Australia's taxpayer-funded schedule. The Murdoch media/News Corp has a massive conflict of interest in that it is a corporate partner of the Murdoch Children's Research Institute which is involved in vaccine research, including research re the Bexsero meningococcal B vaccine product.

This is a massive scandal, also related to the highly conflicted implementation of the GSK Bexsero meningococcal B vaccine product in the UK, when Andrew Pollard became Chair of the JCVI.

And where is the independent media to expose this scandal? We have to do this work ourselves, and under the constant threat of being shut down by 'the authorities' who seek to censor citizens' open discussion of vaccination policy and practice.

Jenny Allan

Angus -"surveillance of invasive bacterial diseases and penumococcal vaccine impact in children in Nepal"

Yes - this business of using third world children in remote areas for what amounts to clinical trials is abhorrent. In most cases the parents are paid for their consent. When things go wrong (and they do), the vaccine manufacturers often point to disclaimer clauses in consent forms, regardless of whether or not those parents understood them, or were verbally warned about risks. Any compensation paid is usually derisory. Third world governments are usually compliant, but then so are governments in the developed world. This will continue as long as vaccines are always promoted as safe and effective, when they are often nothing of the kind.

In the UK us oldies are now getting a 'free' flu vaccine containing squalene, all hyped up as a 'more effective' adjuvant. This vaccine is very similar to the banned GSK Pandemrix, which caused widespread narcolepsy. I've refused it for the last 2 years, although I offered to receive the single dose mercury free version I got in 2017. There was no choice offered. My husband accepted the squalene. It made no difference to him getting the flu earlier this year.

Basically, this is nothing more than a clinical trial dressed up as a benefit.

Jenny Allan

John -Maybe Hunt is a stooge, but he is preferable to Hancock who, before he was Health Secretary, was happy to accept bungs from an industry promoting 'think tank'. We all know industry gives donations to political parties, but personal bungs should be illegal. It would be naive to assume nothing is expected in return.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/nhs-privatisation-donations-matt-hancock-health-secretary-institute-economic-affairs-a8442001.html?fbclid=IwAR13TbvhfBvXSEz4-Vm4_1MmLzigkyxA6bJlNNnsh0S6m-3SEzs-FzGsi0A
Quote:-
“Newly appointed health secretary Matt Hancock received £32,000 in donations from the chairman of a think tank which critics say is trying to “abolish the NHS”.
After becoming an MP in 2010 Mr Hancock has received regular donations of between £2,000 and £4,000 from millionaire currency manager and Conservative Party donor Neil Record.”

I completely agree about previous GSK CEO Andrew Witty. Talk about being rewarded for bribery and corruption.:-
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Witty
Extracts:-
"On 2 July 2012, GSK pleaded guilty to criminal charges and agreed to a $3 billion settlement of the largest health-care fraud case in the U.S. "
"In October 2012 it was announced that he had been appointed the Chancellor of the University of Nottingham with effect from 1 January 2013"
"In July 2013, the People's Republic of China announced that they were investigating allegations of fraud perpetrated by GSK going back to 2007 and involving thousands of millions of renminbi.[18] Four GSK executives have already been arrested in China. It is alleged that the money was used, inter alia, to bribe around 25 travel agencies that organize conferences for doctors, in order to encourage the agencies to host GSK events. Witty later claimed that he knew nothing about the China fraud and tried to pass the blame onto subordinates."
Public bodies
Witty serves as a director of Singapore Economic Development Board, and on the Imperial College Commercialisation Advisory Board. He is a member of the INSEAD UK Council, Health Innovation Council in the UK and a director of the Office for Strategic Coordination of Health Research. He is also a member of the Economic Development Board audit committee as well as a board member of the Singapore Land Authority Board.
Knighthood]
Witty was knighted in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to the economy and the UK pharmaceutical industry."

Angus Files

Another picture of Pollard and his purportedly life saving qualifications as I done see any life saving going on ...

https://www.paediatrics.ox.ac.uk/team/andrew-pollard

PROFESSOR OF PAEDIATRIC INFECTION AND IMMUNITY

Current research activities include clinical trials of new and improved vaccines for children and adults, surveillance of invasive bacterial diseases and penumococcal vaccine impact in children in Nepal, studies of cellular and humoral immune responses to glycoconjugate and typhoid vaccines, and development of a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine.

ANDREW J POLLARD, BSc MA MBBS MRCP(UK) FRCPCH PhD DIC FHEA FIDSA FMedSci, is Professor of Paediatric Infection and Immunity at the University of Oxford, Honorary Consultant Paediatrician at Oxford Children’s Hospital and Vice Master of St Cross College, Oxford.

Pharma For Prison

MMR RIP

John Stone

Jenny

The best that could be said about Hunt is that he was a stooge. At the time the CEO of GSK, Andrew Witty, headed the board of the Department of Business - was in effect a member of the government. The position is of course no better now.

http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/digital-culture-media-and-sport-committee/fake-news/written/76219.html

John Stone

Fred

So, the UK licensing agency, the MHRA, which is advised by Prof Pollard was unable to verify any side effects - the MHRA will never have verified a single adverse vaccine event in its entire history, and nor will its precursor the MCA. No monitoring agency in the history of the universe has ever been so expert at not finding anything.

Patrick

Yes, they have all these projects it seems to curb money away from understanding cause and treatment. This one reminds me of the actions of Autism Speaks. I found this today trying to see if this Scott Plotkin NF researcher is related to Stanley: https://www.ctf.org/news/eu-pearl-project-aims-to-shape-future-of-drug-development

Jenny Allan

John - I expect Jeremy Hunt had to be seen to be listening to public opinion in favour of the Meningitis B jab with an election coming. The position with Matthew Hancock was very different with regard to his publicly expressed zeal for mandatory child vaccinations, following all the hype over a few hundred measles cases in England with no child deaths (No adult ones reported either as yet). This was definitely NOT welcomed following the Conservative Annual Conference 2019. (Apparently Hancock's speech was delivered at a fringe event).

The main objections to mandatory vaccinations came from the education authorities in England. Our systems are very different from those in the US and any attempt to ban children from schools or daycare due to them missing one or more vaccines, would not only cause a furore amongst parents and carers, but would cause absolute havoc with children roaming the streets.

There seems to have been a great deal of official reassurance stating persuasion preferred to coercion. I certainly hope so. In Italy, people power resulted in a change of government, but these new poiticians reneged on their promises to scrap new mandatory vaccine laws and fines.

At the time of writing this Prime Minister Boris Johnstone has still not finally confirmed his new cabinet, but I fear Hancock will remain the Health Secretary for the time being.

susan welch

Wow! Thank you, John, for laying out all this information so clearly.

I had wondered who on earth PHE were (should that be was?) and I am grateful for your clarification.

The whole issue smacks of corruption at the expense of our children's health.

I am so grateful that you are putting the facts on record. When the sh.t eventually hits the fan, as it has to at some time, your meticulous recording will mean they cannot say they were unaware of the dangers of their decisions.

White Rose

See the military Uniform , and this is supposed to be healthcare is it ?
Shame on them ALL ...... For they all know .

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/17/health/john-b-robbins-dead.html

Dr. John B. Robbins, a pioneer in vaccinology and one of the inventors of the first effective defense against a form of meningitis that once killed more than a thousand infants a day worldwide, died on Nov. 27 at his home in Manhattan. He was 86.

The cause was prostate cancer, his son Robert said.
By some estimates, Dr. Robbins’s vaccine against the illness, called Hib meningitis, has saved seven million lives since it was licensed in 1989.

Pediatricians who worked in the pre-vaccine days remember feeling their hearts sink when they saw Hib bacteria under a microscope in a baby’s spinal fluid. It meant that, even with antibiotics, the child was at risk of permanent brain damage, deafness or death.

Before the vaccine, Hib meningitis killed about 400,000 children a year, according to the World Health Organization.

Since then, the disease has been largely relegated to the medical history books. The vaccine is now given in more than 180 countries; in the United States there is now only about one case of Hib meningitis a year for every million children under age 5, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The chief discovery made by Dr. Robbins and his longtime collaborator, Dr. Rachel Schneerson, is also now used to strengthen vaccines against typhoid fever, whooping cough, lethal E. coli bacteria, Clostridium difficile and anthrax.
That discovery, known as conjugation, involves attaching proteins to the polysaccharides — complex sugars — on the bacterium’s outer capsule. Conjugated pairs of proteins and sugars are much more visible to infants’ immature immune systems and help them generate protective antibodies.

Two weeks before Dr. Robbins died, the first large rollout of a conjugate typhoid fever vaccine he also helped invent began, with 10 million children in Pakistan inoculated, according to Dr. Anita Zaidi, an expert on intestinal diseases at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which funded research on that vaccine.

Dr. Robbins and Dr. Schneerson also conceived of an unusual vaccine for stopping malaria outbreaks: Instead of attacking malaria parasites in a person’s blood, the vaccine would be picked up from recipients by mosquitoes who bit them. The vaccine would then attack the parasites in the mosquitoes’ midguts, making them unable to infect anyone else.

Frederic Chopin

John,

Concerning Bexsero and Kawasaki disease have you seen this from 2018?

Safety of multicomponent meningococcal group B vaccine (4CMenB) in routine infant immunisation in the UK: a prospective surveillance study

John Stone

Jenny

I don't see that the lobbying charities are independent either. Meningitis Research Foundation currently list GSK, Pfizer and Sanofi among its corporate sponsors.

https://www.meningitis.org/get-involved/corporate-support

and Hunt does not mention them in support of his intervention. In 2013 MRF was also funding Prof Pollard

https://web.archive.org/web/20131227082959/http://www.meningitis.org/research">http://www.meningitis.org/research">https://web.archive.org/web/20131227082959/http://www.meningitis.org/research

What, of course, is not at issue is that Meningitis B is a terrible disease, the problem is the independence of science. The problem of charities as non-independent bodies is a connected and recognised except by the BBC and other mainstream useful idiots.

Even on Bexsero's own official data you would expect it to give 3 in 1,000 infants Kawasaki Disease. I suppose that is what Johnson and Hancock would call vaccine misinformation i.e. correct information which they don't like (presumably Hunt too).

Jenny Allan

"GSK to take over the vaccine division of Novartis which manufactured Bexsero, and these were completed early in 2015. This was by chance just in time for Hunt to come to an agreement with GSK over the provision of Bexsero and for him to announce the deal before the May 2015 general election. The commercial prospects of the product took off."

In fairness to Jeremy Hunt there was a huge 'push' for child meningitis vaccines in the UK, led by the BBC, featuring a beautiful little girl who losr limbs due to meningitis B. This emotional stuff stirred up a huge public demand for the vaccine, never mind this little girl would have been too old to receive the vaccine per the proposed schedule, or the undeniable fact most cases of child deaths and limbs lost due to sepsis, are caused by medical failures to recognise the seriousness of the infection early enough and administer antibiotics timeously,

I suspect even the politicians are unaware PHE and its Scottish and Welsh counterparts are nothing more than QUANGOs. Most persons assume they are a Government department or part of the NHS. I have caught them out several times over-hyping measles stats or laundering them. It would be unreasonable to expect politicians to question the information provided to them by 'agencies' like PHE, which plainly carry the endorsement of the government. Some kind of independent scrutiny is long overdue, particularly since PHE appears to have commercial interests. I would also be interested to know if the BBC gets cash for promoting the interests of vaccine manufacturers and commercial agencies like the Oxford Vaccine Group (OVG).

Thank you John for keeping up the pressure. If the BMJ REALLY means what it says about getting rid of all these cosy links between Governments and industries, then they need to SHOW us some real action.

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