Pfizer Was Judged to Have Misled the Public Over the Covid Vaccine and Will Receive a Derisory Fine. The System is Broken
by Dr Alan Black, Daily Sceptic:
When Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, agreed to be interviewed by the BBC in December 2021, he probably saw it as an opportunity for a bit of free advertising and PR for his company and its Covid vaccine. And so it turned out, apparently. An undemanding set of questions from the docile Fergus Walsh gave Dr. Bourla the chance to opine unchallenged on all things Covid and Covid vaccination, and no doubt communicate a few of his company’s key marketing messages.
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However, UsforThem, an organisation which campaigns for the needs and rights of children, saw things differently. Its researchers noticed that during his interview Dr. Bourla had made statements about Covid and the use of Covid vaccines in children that were misleading, unbalanced and not capable of substantiation. They took these concerns to the U.K. regulatory body, the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (the PMCPA), and a recent article in the Telegraph reports that the PMCPA agreed with them.
It is scandalous that it took the PMCPA a year to deal with this case. Meanwhile, Bourla and his colleagues have continued to make vast profits on the back of their COVID-19 vaccines, aided no doubt by these misleading statements. The PMCPA is the U.K. pharmaceutical industry’s very own ‘self-regulatory’ body. Self-regulation is a valuable privilege delegated to this industry by the MHRA, whose statutory responsibility it is to ensure that everyone, not just the pharmaceutical industry, complies with the laws which regulate the promotion of medicines. Failure to comply can, but very rarely does, result in criminal charges.
Those of you shocked by the revelation that the MHRA is 86% funded by the pharmaceutical industry, prepare yourselves: because the PMCPA is 100% funded by the pharmaceutical industry. It also reports to the board of its industry body, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (the ABPI). This Board is mostly comprised of senior management of U.K. pharmaceutical companies. In fact, at the time this complaint about Pfizer was made, the President of the ABPI Board was also head of Pfizer in the U.K., and the current ABPI Vice-President is the Pfizer U.K. Country President. The PMCPA actually describes itself as “a division of the ABPI”. So, no potential conflicts of interest there then.
Thus, UsforThem will probably have achieved this significant judgment in the teeth of determined opposition. The PMCPA’s own records demonstrate that it is not uncommon for complainants, as in this case, to wait a year or even longer for a final decision. Prevarication, inefficiency and delay appear to have been weaponised by the pharmaceutical industry over the past few years to enable complaints about misbehaviour to be kicked down the road far enough for the impacts of any resulting adverse judgments to be diluted and to allow sales and profits from misleading advertising and unethical promotion to be maximised.
And now that Bourla and Pfizer have eventually been found guilty of misleading the U.K. public about their Covid vaccine, what penalties or sanctions are they facing? Well, fortunately for them, nothing too serious: it is not possible to know exactly the extent of their offences, as the report of this case has not yet been published. However, the breaches of which they have apparently been found guilty – misleading the public, making unsubstantiated claims and failing to present information in a balanced way – could conceivably be covered by just three clauses of their industry’s Code of Practice. The current level of fine (or as the PMCPA prefers to call it ‘administrative charge’) for a single breach of one clause currently stands at £3,500 (or £12,000 if the breach is upheld at appeal). So, for this particular case, three individual clause breaches could mean that Pfizer is now facing a bill for a sum as little as £36,000. Had it not decided to appeal, that bill might only have been as low as £10,500. When viewed alongside the eye-watering profits Pfizer stands to make from its Covid vaccines, and no doubt the resulting generous bonuses banked by Bourla (even when just considered over the 12 months it has taken for the PMCPA to arrive at a decision for this case), these ‘penalties’ are of course derisory, both as punishments and also disincentives to similar behaviour in the future.