(9 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
Coming only a mere 10 days after my original diary on the subject, someone at the NY Times suddenly decides they don’t want the karma of thousands of ignorant dead on their souls and frontpages a story about how the interaction of H1N1 and aspirin caused hundreds of thousands of deaths during the Pandemic of 1918.
However, the spin on this article is difficult to miss for someone who already knows the rest of the story. Disinformation can be just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than no information at all. The article is peppered with bad information, authoritative-sounding half-truths and spin that is clearly designed to simultaneously deflect the blame from the US military and aspirin as a treatment.
Deaths are attributed to aspirin overdose ONLY, and the article infers that aspirin was prescribed (we are carefully and repeatedly told “in excess”) simply because it was “the hot new thing” during a time when medical science “was nowhere near as advanced as it is now”.
Bull twinkies. Cow cupcakes. Meadow muffins.
There is NO analysis of the dangers of the interaction between treatment and disease. There is NO mention of the fact that aspirin treats a symptom – fever – which is a natural bodily defense against the flu and associated infections – without treating the invasive organisms itself. There is no explanation for why only treating the fever resulted in so many fatalities.
The NY Times article mentions an aggressive marketing campaign which pushed Bayer aspirin and provides the loss of Bayer’s American patent in 1917 as the cause, but nothing is really said about why the patent “expired” precisely then. It is made to sound like a very ordinary state of affairs, having nothing to do with the hostile engagement between Germany and the US. Looking at some of the actual advertising of the period brings some interesting aspects of this campaign to light which are not explained or even alluded to in the article. For example, it seems very important to the Bayer company in these two advertisements to assure people that “all employees of the Bayer company are Americans”.
The corporation was founded in in 1863 in Bavaria (or in German, Bayern), which is why it’s called Bayer in the first place. The Atlantic-spanning machinations of this marketing campaign brings to mind another of my diaries – the one about how the Coca Cola company played both ends against the middle in World War II.
Is anyone starting to see a pattern here? Just like the Coca Cola company lost the right to import syrup into Nazi Germany during World War II, the Bayer company lost it’s American patent in 1917 because of World War I. Immediately thereafter there is active (and deliberately deceptive) marketing hype and use of the product by the American military on both sides of the pond. After the war-du-jour what we have is a behemoth of a corporation, wildly successful, it’s flagship product a trusted international household name.
A letter from the National Archives sheds a bit more light on the situation. The nurse working in Washington DC in an influenza ward mentions a pair of German spies posing as doctors who were caught trying to infect American soldiers with the disease. They were taken out and shot, but one truly wonders how many American casualties resulted from the trusted use of the equally German treatment…?
The person who reportedly discovered that fever was not a disease but the symptom of a bodily defense against disease – big surprise here, folks! – was one each Carl Wunderlich, a German medical professor – imagine that! His paper on fever was presented at the University of Leipzig in 1868, only five years after the formation of the Bayer corporation, and thirty years before Bayer started mass-marketing aspirin – which had been isolated and examined for it’s medicinal purposes ten years before Bayer was founded.
It is extremely difficult to believe that German medical professionals and scientists – people who had been messing around with the stuff for fifty years – were unaware of the purpose of a fever, or that aspirin acted against fever without treating the underlying cause of a disease, by 1918.
The pattern coming to light here so strongly resembles the way Coca Cola was hyped to the US Military during World War II that one truly starts to wonder if the stories about the Bavarian Illuminati are more than the random ravings of a snarky science fiction writer. Looking at the way the company interacted with the Nazi regime, their current involvement with genetically modified food, and the fact that they are currently the third largest pharmaceutical company in the world lends itself to even more scrutiny of this syndrome.
The world in 1918 was a bigger place. It was a lot easier to play one side of the pond off against the other. For all that warfare was (supposedly) more brutal and frequent, American citizens generally trusted their authority figures a lot more than we do today – a trust that of necessity would increase during hostilities with other nations. People trusted their governments, their military, and their doctors.
I see a pattern here, and I see it to the degree that I am really starting to wonder just how many of the people who died from (ahem) “overdoses” of the aspirin used to treat their H1N1 influenza in 1918 were actually… murdered.
Murdered by an opportunistic corporation that played both sides against the middle during wartime. Murdered by the propagation of willful ignorance and deceptive marketing. Murdered on the watch of complicit and corrupt elements within our own government, our own military, and our own medical corps. Murdered for profit.