Rio de Janeiro - Brazilian police arrested Daurio Speranzini Jr. and 22 other suspects as part of a probe, code-named "Operation Resonance" into suspected fraud and corruption by subsidiaries of multinational companies Johnson & Johnson and Philips in the Rio de Janeiro state health system. The arrest of high-ranking political and business figures has become a matter of routine, particularly in Rio de Janeiro.
A federal court also ordered some 1.2 billion reais ($307M US) in assets to be frozen.
The cartel, alleged to contain at least 33 organizations, operated for nearly 20 years, from 1996 until 2017. "Top executives from multinational medical equipment manufacturers arranged among themselves who would win contracts by paying a 13% commission on those contracts to distributors Oscar Iskin & Cia Ltda," prosecutors allege.
The Brazilian headquarters of Johnson & Johnson and Philips along with 42 other sites were raided as part of the investigation, according to police.
Johnson & Johnson, and Koninklijke Philips N.V. have both released statements stating they are cooperating fully with authorities.
We posted this page when we first went online, having identified pharmaceutical companies as profiteers unconcerned with the consequences of their drug pushing. The tainted blood scandal was unfolding in those days and has since blown over; the Red Cross has since re-established its reputation as a neutral body. (There are many indications that this is not always true -- but we are not going to take on the task of exposing an organisation for whom so many fair-minded people work, any more than we would take on the International Olympic Committee. Both are tied to pushing dangerous drugs gaining profits for the companies who produce them. The checks and balances operate slowly, erupting from time to time in scandals which come and go.
Every now and then a story emerges which is so chock full of information that we post it. There is a lot of scope here for anyone seeking to investigate.
A pharmaceutical company has discovered 70 million to 90 million long-forgotten doses of smallpox vaccine in its freezers, instantly increasing the known U.S. inventory of the vaccine six-fold and ensuring the nation an adequate supply in the event of a bioterrorist attack, according to government sources familiar with the find. The immediate impact of the discovery is to buy time for the federal government and its pharmaceutical contractors, which together have been racing to produce tens of millions of smallpox vaccine doses as part of the new biodefense initiative. Companies will be able use that cushion of time to fine-tune some of the new vaccine candidates under development, instead of rushing effective but perhaps less-than-perfect vaccines into production as an emergency stopgap measure.
"It's a great insurance policy," said D.A. Henderson, director of the newly created federal Office of Health Preparedness. The liquid vaccine doses were produced by Aventis Pasteur of Lyon, France, which has its U.S. operations in Swiftwater, Pa. The vaccine has been stored in freezers since it was made decades ago, sources said. It remained unclear yesterday why its existence had gone undiscovered for so long, exactly when it was discovered or by whom. Sources said the company is negotiating with the Department of Health and Human Services with the goal of giving the U.S. government access to the supply. Among the issues to be worked out are how much money, if any, would change hands in the transaction, and the extent to which the company may be relieved of liability should problems with the vaccine arise.
Calls to Aventis were referred to HHS, which volunteered few details.
"There are legal things that still need to be finalized," said HHS spokesman Bill Hall. HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson hopes to settle the deal before next week, Hall said. "Until then, our hands are tied." A global vaccination effort rid the world of naturally occurring smallpox in 1977, after which the vaccine fell out of production. But a few vials of smallpox viruses were saved in the United States and the Soviet Union. Some experts fear that small amounts of the highly infectious, often fatal agent -- which can be expanded with relative ease in a laboratory -- may have fallen into terrorist hands.
The possibility that smallpox might re-emerge as an agent of terror recently inspired U.S. health officials to take stock of existing vaccine supplies. That inventory concluded that the nation has about 15.4 million doses -- barely enough to deal with an attack on a major city or two.
The federal government contracted with various companies to make more of the standard vaccine and to begin work on new and safer versions. But no one knows whether the goal of producing 155 million new doses this year is reachable, and even that would leave the nation far short. At the same time, in an effort to make more with less, federal scientists have been diluting samples of existing stocks and testing them to see if they are still potent. U.S. health officials have said in recent weeks that studies involving five-fold and ten-fold dilutions are looking very promising. Final results of those tests are to be released today. But even a ten-fold expansion of the previously documented 15.4 million doses would produce only half the doses needed to vaccinate every American.
That shortage is more than covered by the Aventis discovery.
The Aventis vaccine is essentially identical to the previously inventoried vaccine, which was made by Wyeth and went by the name Dryvax. Both were grown from the same seed stock of vaccinia, a virus so similar to the smallpox virus that it primes the immune system against both. The key difference between the two products is that Dryvax is stored as freeze-dried powder, which must be reconstituted by adding a liquid diluent, while the Aventis product was reconstituted and then frozen in its liquid form. Ongoing studies strongly suggest that the Aventis product is fully potent, according to one government scientist familiar with the work. Indeed, the official said, it's likely that the Aventis product can itself be diluted five-fold if necessary, creating far more doses than would be needed in this nation even in the face of a full-blown bioterrorist attack.
That does not mean it will be easy to defend against such an attack or that deaths would be rare. The vaccine must be given within a few days after exposure to smallpox, posing a logistical nightmare if outbreaks were to occur in several locations simultaneously. Smallpox has historically killed about a third of those it infects. Another problem is that both the Wyeth and Aventis vaccines can be deadly in people whose immune systems are suppressed by AIDS or other diseases or as a result of their taking drugs for cancer or organ transplantation. In fact, such patients are at risk of life-threatening vaccinia infection simply by coming in contact with others who have been vaccinated, since live viruses are shed from the injection site on the arm.
The discovery of the extra doses could escalate an already heated debate over the wisdom of vaccinating doctors, public health workers and other "first responders," a strategy that some have proposed as a way of ensuring that key personnel would be protected in the event of a covert attack. One expert yesterday expressed concern that the discovery of the added doses, while reassuring, might lead to a federal decision to offer prophylactic vaccination before a careful analysis of such a program's scientific and social impact is conducted.
"Doing that without proper foresight and planning could be a disaster. It could kill people, that's for certain, and it could undermine the government's credibility," said Tara O'Toole, director of Johns Hopkins' Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies in Baltimore. "There are very significant ethical issues involved in saying, 'Okay, you can have it and you can't.' This is no small challenge."
Aventis-Hoecht used to be part of IG Farben. Aventis is now owned by Bayer
Looking at Bayer's past it is hardly possible to imagine a worse company to entrust with the development and commercialisation of such an unwanted, unpredictable and potentially dangerous technology as GM crops. Bayer has a history of corporate crimes that makes even old-school bio-tech baddies Monsanto seem like angels. Here are just a few of the skeletons in Bayer's cupboard:
In 1898 Bayer trademarked Heroin and in 1900 marketed it world-wide as a cough medicine.
In 1925 Bayer was one of the companies that merged to form IG Farben. During WWII IG Farben used forced labour in many of its factories. IG Farben subsidiary Degesch manufactured and sold Zyklon B, the poison gas used in the gas chambers. Bayer AG was one of 4 companies to be formed out of the assets of IG Farben in 1952.
Bayer has been implicated in the development of nerve agents including VX.
Bayer was one of the pharmaceutical companies who took the South African government to court for allowing the production of cheap generic versions of HIV drugs.
Bayer is currently facing a lawsuit in Peru brought by the parents of children killed in a pesticide poisoning incident in the Peruvian Andes. Twenty-four children died and a further eighteen were severely poisoned after drinking powdered milk accidentally mixed with a Bayer pesticide. The chemical methyl parathion (brand name Folidol), an odourless white powder that resembles powdered milk, was sold to farmers, mainly illiterate Quechua speakers, in small plastic bags with labels in Spanish and no pictograms indicating danger or toxicity.
In the wake of the recent anthrax attacks in the US, Bayer is raking in millions of dollars as the sole US manufacturer of Cipro, the antibiotic used to treat the disease.
Earlier this year Bayer was forced to withdraw one of its leading pharmaceutical products - the anti cholesterol drug Baycol or Lipobay, which was linked to 31 deaths in the US.
In the early 1990's Bayer placed hundreds of UK patients at risk of potentially fatal infections by failing to disclose crucial safety information during a trial of the antibiotic Ciproxin. Up to 650 people underwent surgery using Ciproxin without doctors being informed that studies (as early as 1989) showed Ciproxin reacted badly with other drugs, seriously impairing its ability to kill bacteria.
Cipro and smallpox vaccine have much in common besides capturing America's urgent attention in recent weeks. The parent companies that produce these favored elixirs for anthrax and smallpox bioterrorism are linked, strangely enough, to an infamous history involving contaminated blood, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and even the Nazis-associations that the FBI doesn't seem anxious to explore.
Cipro is produced by Germany's Bayer AG, while the smallpox vaccine's newly formed producers are Acambis (previously OraVax), partnered with Baxter and Aventis-created in 1999 by parent companies Hoechst and Rhone-Poulenc. All have jaded histories.
The "Big Three"-Bayer, Baxter, and Rhone-Poulenc are infamously known for having infected more than 7,000 American hemophiliacs with the AIDS virus during the early 1980s. They admitted foreknowledge in selling HIV-tainted blood clotting products and settled the class action case for $100,000 per claimant.
Bayer and Hoechst were formed following World War II from the "decartelization" of Germany's leading industrial organisation and Nazi economic engine-I.G. Farben. The CIA immediately took over their vacated corporate headquarters which had curiously escaped allied bombings. Historians explain that the Farben complex had been protected by officials of John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company-half owner of the Farben cartel. Many believe that Rockefeller lawyer and Standard Oil business manager, Allen Dulles, the CIA's first director, military-command-protected Farben headquarters from allied bombings. In the current age when past CIA Director James Woolsey lectures on "industrial espionage" as a primary function of the modern intelligence organisation, this history may have contemporary ramifications.
Soon after the CIA formed, Bayer and Hoechst were reorganized in 1951 under the direction of the Allied High Commission, largely influenced by U.S. High Commissioner John J. McCloy-a lawyer and banker from Philadelphia, with intimate ties to Rockefeller banking and oil interests. After "decartelization," the I.G. Farben plants, including all the labor camps involved in the mostly Jewish genocide, were consolidated into three main holding companies: Bayer, Hoechst, and BASF for the benefit of all the stockholders.
Hermann Schmitz, president of Bayer A.G and I.G. Farben during WWII, who also largely directed the Deutsche Bank, "held as much stock in Standard Oil of New Jersey as did the Rockefellers," according to former CBS News war correspondent Paul Manning. Acknowledging CIA director Dulles for his information, Manning reported that on August 10, 1944, the Rockefeller-Farben partners moved their "flight capital" through affiliated German/French, American, British and Swiss banks "for the new Germany." This secured "the sophisticated distribution of national and corporate assets to safe havens" thoughout the world, and assured the continuation and further development of the "Neuordnung" (new order) for both the global petrochemical pharmaceutical industry and banking cartels.
Bayer is also anxious to stifle criticism. It recently forced the excellent German based anti-Bayer campaign group BayerWatch to rename its web site and to relinquish all rights to the BayerWatch name.
From the Aventis website:
I.G. Farbenindustrie AG
Despite those encouraging signs the German chemical industry had no alternative but to form an even closer grouping. In 1925 the syndicate of 1916 merged to create a new company known as I. G. Farbenindustrie AG. Its headquarters were in Frankfurt am Main. Following a perceptible sales drop in all of the original companies and also the pressures of the world economic crisis from 1929 onwards, the company was forced to merge production facilities, grasp the nettle of radical rationalization and lay off large numbers of employees in the individual works. During the two decades when the Höchst site belonged to I.G. Farben it lost large sections of its dye range but gained fresh impetus expanding its pharmaceuticals, crop protection agents, solvents and synthetic resins activities. The 1940s saw the start of highly promising research work into penicillin production, and it was only the outcome of the war in 1945 that thwarted the planned erection of a production plant for this new drug. Eventually the plans were implemented under changed conditions, but not until 1950.
I.G. Farbenindustrie AG concentrated its efforts on expanding new sectors such as synthetic rubber, methanol, synthetic gasoline, light metals and synthetic fibers. Most of the facilities for these products were located at new plants benefiting from low-cost energy supplies in central Germany, the Ruhr and later also in Upper Silesia. As a result the old parent works of the founding companies on the Main and Rhine found themselves sidelined to some extent and had difficulty maintaining their positions in the overall corporate structure. The Höchst site was no exception. Although still the leading works of a joint operation comprising several factories in the central Rhine area, it had to defend its position.
The part played by I.G. Farbenindustrie AG in Germany is often associated with the economic policies and crimes of the Nazis in the Third Reich. In fact, it was only in the final one-third of I.G. Farben's twenty-year history that the National Socialist regime exerted any heightened influence on the company. I.G. Farbenindustrie AG with its international outlook was totally opposed in its interests to the National Socialists' narrow-minded attempts at self-sufficiency. But the regime was interested in I.G. Farben's new developments such as synthetic rubber and synthetic gasoline. As those products were of great strategic value to Adolf Hitler's war plans, cooperation between some sections of I.G. Farben and the Reich Government was gradually intensified. Then, in 1936, as part of the four-year plan, the company became largely dependent on the Nazi regime and this led to its ill-fated involvement in Nazi crimes.
Repercussions of the Nazi dictatorship
After 1933 everyday life in the factories, too, came increasingly under the influence of the new rulers. I.G. Farbenindustrie AG was no more able to divorce itself from developments in Germany than the other branches of industry. Nearly all other walks of life were affected as well. The economic preparations for the Second World War and the subsequent war economy had a far-reaching effect on both I.G. Farben and its factories. It was during the war years that the darkest chapters in the company's history were written. As in industry generally, prisoners of war, foreign workers and forced laborers were used at all of the sites. It was those workers, and most particularly the concentration camp inmates from Auschwitz, who built the vast Buna plant in Monowitz in Polish Upper Silesia. Only a few survived the brutality.
There were fewer evident signs of the war at Höchst than at other sites. Virtually none of the production at Höchst was vital to the war effort, which is why neither the site nor the town was bombed apart from a few isolated attacks. The shortage of workers, however, meant that prisoners of war, foreign workers and forced laborers from numerous European countries were drafted in. More than five thousand of them were put to work at the Höchst site. When US troops entered Höchst at the end of March 1945 they found the production plants almost undamaged. Another reason why the site was not bombed has since been established: the Americans had already decided during the war to use the site for their own purposes once it had been captured. When this happened, important units of the US military administration made Höchst their headquarters. After the Allies issued their order to break up I.G. Farbenindustrie AG in 1945, the Höchst site continued under US administration until 1951.
At the end of the war the Allies had already decided that I.G. Farbenindustrie AG should cease to exist. The company's assets were confiscated and the individual sites were placed under military administration. The Americans' intentions were even more radical. The Höchst site, which had grown up over more than seventy years, was to be split into a number of independent units. The plan was for approximately five separate factories, including a drugs manufacturer, a dye company and a fertilizer producer, for instance. But the idea proved impracticable and was abandoned by 1947 in favor of other plans. The dismemberment of I.G. Farben then became a matter of creating completely new, viable and competitive companies in the tradition of those that existed before I.G. Farbenindustrie AG was established in 1925.
At the end of the difficult dismemberment process the new "Farbwerke Hoechst AG vormals Meister Lucius & Brüning", now Hoechst Aktiengesellschaft, came into being on December 7, 1951. The five founders were independent personalities from German business life with untainted personal backgrounds. All were appointed in consultation with the Federal German Government by the representatives of the United States, the United Kingdom and France in the Allied High Commission, the body that succeeded the Allied Military Government. I.G. Farben continued in existence as I.G. Farbenindustrie i.L. (in liquidation) but this was solely to facilitate the settlement of long-standing claims by creditors and aggrieved parties from the pre-1945 period. It had no legal links with the new companies.
On December 1, 1998, the CEOs of France's Rhône-Poulenc and Germany's Hoechst Atkiengesellschaft announced a merger that would create one of the largest life-science companies in the world. On December 15, 1999, the merger was fulfilled and Aventis was created. Hoechst was one of a dozen companies born of the dismantling of IG Farben, a chemical drug cartel whose directors were convicted of war crimes. Before the Nazi era, Hoechst manufactured dyes.
The first Nuremberg tribunal in 1947 failed to punish the Organizers of the Holocaust
The Second World War was not an accident of history, but a conquest war particularly of Eastern Europe organized by giant German corporations like IG Farben and others. Hitler was their political and military puppet. Telford Taylor, US-Chief Prosecutor at the 1947 Nuremberg War Tribunal against the managers of BAYER, BASF and HOECHST (IG Farben) stated: "These companies, not the lunatic Nazi fanatics, are the main war criminals. If the guilt of these criminals is not brought to daylight and if they are not punished, they will pose a much greater threat to the future peace of the world than Hitler if he were still alive."