July 17, 2009

Julie Gerberding Now Officially a Paid Pharma Shill Withholding her Conflicts of Interest

Your favorite CDC director and mine, Julie Gerberding, is back to help ABC news scare you into vaccinating with the rushed and poorly tested H1N1 flu shot by using the now tried and true, "On no... there's gonna be a vaccine shortage, get yours now", offense in their piece:

"Swine Flu: Should We Be Worried?
Possible 'Global Grab' for Swine Flu Vaccine If Faced With Shortages

(UPDATE: After getting some criticism for scare mongering, ABC changed the title of the piece to, "CDC Downplays Swine Flu Vaccine Fears: Goverment Health Officials Say U.S. Preparations Should Preclude Risk of Shortage")

A few years back, there was an actual seasonal flu shot shortage because of a failure in manufacturing, and the news reported on it. To everyone's surprise, people RAN to get shots, even waiting in long lines. More people got flu shots that year than ever.

So now, they do it every year just before the fall. Get your flu shots before they run out! So of course the are using this tactic with swine flu (FYI, I listened in on the HHS National Biodefense Science Board meeting today on the Swine Flu and they are expecting to have tens of millions of vaccines available by September 15th [or sooner] and more than 190 million available by October, that is most of the US just in the first two months of flu season)

After the scare piece, Dr. Gerberding is introduced to us for a short interview thusly:

"Joining us now from Atlanta, the former head of the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Julie Gerberding. ... do you have an update on when that vaccine might be available?

Dr. Gerberding shares with us:

Well if everything goes well, we should have vaccine early in the fall. But we've never had the luxury of being able to count on vaccine as the magic bullet in the early months. We know there is not going to be enough globally, and it will be many months before we can even cover our own population under the best scenario...

I am sure the public feels reassured about the vaccine by seeing the familiar face of a public health official talking about "magic" vaccines.

Except that Dr. Gerberding is not a public health official any more. She is now a PR consultant.

Gerberding left CDC in January at the request of the Obama administration and subsequently went to work for the global giant PR firm Edelman as an "adviser on global health strategy".

And Edelman represents PHARMA. And AstraZeneca, Novartis, Pfizer, Abbott Laboratories, and Johnson & Johnson.

And Merck.

Edelman gave us the "One Less" campaign.

From PR Watch:

"The PR genius behind all stages of Merck's HPV and Gardasil campaigns is the PR giant Edelman. The world's largest independent PR firm, Edelman boasts more than 2,100 employees working in 46 wholly owned offices worldwide, plus the additional resources of more than 50 affiliates. They report $299 million in revenues for FY 2006. In addition to Merck, Edelman works on behalf of the industry lobby group PhRMA, as well as some of the largest pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca, Novartis, Pfizer, Abbott Laboratories, and Johnson & Johnson. They proudly promote their health-related expertise as being adept in pioneering "health relationships with health care companies, advocacy organizations, foundations, NGOs and academic institutions." Co-optation, anyone?"

And INFOTAB, Big Tobacco's marketing group:

Edelman has made a name for itself outside of the pharmaceutical realm as well. A key chapter in Edelman's long and sordid history is their work on behalf of Big Tobacco. For example, in 1978, Edelman, working on behalf of R.J. Reynolds, produced a document titled Taking the Initiative on the Smoking Issue: A Total Program. The introduction states "The public mind-set against cigarettes is so firm that one cannot conscientiously promise miracles from the campaign suggested here. But we believe this program, executed effectively, can begin to slow or reverse the growing negative trends in public opinion regarding smoking; can stimulate a more balanced media coverage of smoking; and can generate a more congenial dialogue between smokers and non-smokers.... (Read that whole article.)"

Nice eh?

(Especially considering Gerberding was trying to end smoking at CDC, but then went to work for a PR firm that promotes smoking.)

In fact Richard Edelman, Dr. Gerberding's boss, is quite open about the fact that he makes his living by lying to the public creative truthing.

“In this era of exploding media technologies there is no truth except the truth you create for yourself.” – Richard Edelman

Edelman put his skills to work in praising Gerberding:

"Just prior to Dr. Julie Gerberding’s January 2009 resignation as Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, advertising industry mogul Richard Edelman praised her as a “selfless crusader, a throw-back to a time when public service was the highest calling.” Edelman cited Gerberding’s ability in “humanizing communications” and “the need to tell stories to buttress traditional CDC reliance on science and facts.”

So there you have it. Today Dr. Gerberding has come full circle from a public health official making ridiculous statements that shilled for PHARMA, to a PHARMA shill posing as a public health official.

Same schtick, just someone else signing a bigger check to her.

Watching this again, how could we have not just assumed that she would go into public relations.

UPDATE: Apparently the good doctor has begun making the rounds offering up a 'live healthy' message, that begins with slipping in a subtle message that is in the interests of PHARMA.

The day after the ABC interview, this opinion piece surfaced:

Gerberding: Will health reform make us healthier?

Robert Reich reported that Pharma was trying to kill part of the health reform bill that would drive down drug prices.

Julie is as entitled to her opinion as I am to mine, however she is not disclosing her conflicts of interest.

What are my conflicts of interest, you ask? Well in five years of blogging I have received about $1,850 in donations from individuals and ad sales from Lee Silsby (I discontinued ads cause I don't wanna mess with it). That works out to about $1.71 per blog post, as I have written 1082 of them.

My child is not in the Vaccine Injury Compensation pipeline and we are not suing anyone over anything.

Another Update: Another day, another new Gerberding article. Nothing since she left CDC in January, and now three in three days.

This one is her in Forbes praising NYC for its trans-fat ban.

I didn't see any conflicts of interest there. But I thought surely they woman would not just be talking about good health for the sake of her health.

Then tonight I realized that her successor at CDC, Thomas R. Frieden, was the NYC Health Commissioner who put the trans-fat ban in place. Well no conflict of interest there, just praising her successor.

But then I did another search on Edelman and Source Watch says that Edelman has some government PR contracts. I wonder if CDC is one of those government contracts.

Edelman and Gerberding met working together at a CDC Foundation where he was on the board. I wonder if that won him a contract.

I wonder if Edelman and co. were responsible for her "Pretty in Pink" makeover for the CNN interview? The change in her look was dramatic.

I will see if I can find out if there is a formal relationship between CDC and Edelman PR.

Update: On January 25th 2010, after a legally mandated one year waiting period, Julie Gerberding took her new position as the head of the vaccine division of Merck.

Julie Gerberding Named Head of Merck Vaccines


Recently I watched the BBC Documentary, "The Century of the Self", which details how Sigmund Freud's theories on the human psyche were used by his nephew to give birth to the PR industry. It was truly astonishing to see how we have been abused for a hundred years.

I am tacking it on to the end of this post as it is relevant.

Take the time to watch this four hour series. It is quite the wake up call to start thinking for yourself.

I have considered my self psych and media savvy, but I had no idea how many of my decisions had been made for me.

“We must shift America from a needs to a desires culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things even before the old have been entirely consumed. We must shape a new mentality in America. Man’s desires must over shadow his needs.”

- Paul Mazer, Public Relations, Lehman Brothers in the 1930’s


Thing1Thing2Mom said...

Lady, you put out some quality, thought provoking work. Thank you!

Barbara said...

There's a special place in hell reserved for the likes of Julie G and her ilk.

Beth said...

How very important and disappointing to know what Gerberding is up to these days. If I was uncertain in the past if maybe she had been bought by pharma, there is absolutely no doubt anymore. Wow. I just can't even begin to think of an appropriate adjective for how I feel and how she has acted by allowing herself to be in the position she is now as an undeniable shill. What the hell has the world come to? Are there any honest people in public health left?

Crystal said...

Wow. Very interesting. I agree, Gerberding is evil...