Is it possible
that the only one who benefits from the pneumococcal vaccine for
adults is - the manufacturer? According to a hot-from-the-oven
study, it seems to be very likely.
The goal of this study (Efficacy
of pneumococcal vaccination in adults: a meta-analysis,
Huss et al. University of Bern, published in the Canadian
Medical Association Journal) was to try to resolve all too
common situation: conflicting results of different studies on
one same subject. In this case, the efficacy of pneumococcal
vaccine in adults.
So the researchers went through 22 studies
examining this subject, with a total of over 100,000
participants. They were looking at the rates of incidence for
pneumonia and rates of death for vaccinated adults and the
controls (not vaccinated). But they also paid attention to what
they call "methodologic quality" of every trial.
They found out that nearly all trials
indicating that the vaccine is efficient were of poor
methodologic quality, particularly those that haven't been made
double-blind (one of the very basic requirements for an
objective, reliable study). The studies that did have higher
methodologic quality were consistent in
showing noteworthy protective effect of the vaccine.
Not even among the elderly and those with
chronic illnesses, to whom the vaccine is currently directly
One has to wonder how efficient is the very
system where an apparently useless medical aid is recommended to
a large number of people. What was the basis for the official
approval of this recommendation? Why is the monitoring of post
market effect of pharmaceutical products left to random
independent studies, despite their
proven potential to adversely
affect health of many, or even kill tens of thousands of people?
Not that it comes as much of a surprise, since
it is all but well known that the influence of mighty
pharmaceutical industry shapes up much of so called official
medicine, including medical education system, and even
government agencies in charge of overseeing the market.
There's one more unknown with respect to this
vaccine, that yet is to be answered: are there any significant
adverse effect that it can cause? If the assumption of the
efficacy was wrong, so it could be the assumption of "universal
safety" of this vaccine (an impudent oxymoron, as anyone
familiar with vaccines' ABC knows, but no other rationale could
back approving any medication for use by general population).
The issue of efficacy and safety is not
resolved even with the
primary users of pneumococcal vaccine, children between 2
and 18 months of age, as detailed in the article about
September 2007. According to the manufacturer and the officials,
it works just fine, saving lives, and so on. But the post market
Prevnar statistics - as incomplete as it is for
pharmaceuticals in general - indicates quite the opposite.
And pneumococcal vaccine is barely the tip of
the iceberg. No one is really interested, or capable of cleaning
up this big mess that has been piling up for decades by letting
drugs onto the market while relying on insufficient, often
biased pre-market testing by the manufacturers, and with
virtually no post-market testing. Pharmaceutical industry loves
it just the way it is, while the official medicine and
government act as if they don't want to touch this problem with
There is a good reason for it; chances are,
what it would have unearthed is all but pretty, and everyone has
their share of responsibility for it. So the whole big mess
keeps rolling as it is, with its faulty, loose steering wheel,
and many that don't watch out, get hit.
As for the question why would any medical
professional or institution even conduct a study that doesn't
fulfill basic requirements
of reliability, the answer seems to be obvious. It can only take
place when obtaining the facts is not a first priority.
Apparently, not as infrequent practice as one would like to