With relief, I discovered that throwing my music onto the new iTunes was easier than getting murdered on Coronation Street [insert Brookside for older readers]. The same could not be said for the hard drive with all my films on and other assorted docs. I tried different USB leads, different power supplies, spilling the blood of a goat and incantations to Satan – nothing. The thing has flat-lined.

Corrupt data is something you can at least play with and work around but when a drive resembles Monty Python’s parrot it’s beyond my abilities to control.

It seems to be beyond our collective abilities to control the actions of pharmaceutical companies too. It’s not like they’re new kids on the block; we’ve known for ages that they have all the morals of a city investment banker combined with the caring nature of Mother Teresa and Pol Pot.

One of the phenomena I’ve noticed from organisations pontificating on the need for e-cig/vaping regulation is that they tend to cite each other as examples as to why we should hold back from accepting them as part of a harm reduction strategy…and they all reference the Food & Drugs Administration (FDA) in the States.


I can only speculate to this, but my feelings are that it comes down to an arse-covering policy found in middle management the world over. As long as we can point the finger of blame at a minimum of one other person we might be able to sneak out of the building job intact.

The problem is that the FDA and Big Pharma have history. Given that, the lack of anyone doing anything about it and Pharma’s opposition to e-cigs eating into their profit margins on NRT therapies and grossly over-priced cancer medication, is it wrong to suspect they’re still at it?

In 2013 there was a succession of stories implicating the FDA allowing Parma to pay to play. Pharmaceutical companies paid for seats on the committee that decided on the advice to give the FDA when weighing up the results of clinical trials of pain medication.

Documents uncovered demonstrated that up to $25,000 was paid to attend each meeting they sent representatives to, along with annual fees of $35,000. Craig Mayton, the lawyer who made the FOI requests, said “These emails help explain the disastrous decisions the FDA’s analgesic division has made over the last 10 yearsâ€.

The two professors arranging the meetings both received up to $50,000 per meeting, paid into their research fund accounts. Of the thirty to forty people attending these meetings only the pharmaceutical companies paid to attend. Other academics received up to $3,000 to attend meetings.

All of this is chump change to the pharmaceutical companies when dwarfed by the $9 billion value of the painkiller market.

Everyone who frequents forums or can remember the Stealthvape website a few months ago will recall Rob’s problems with back pain. I’d like to think that he and everyone else suffering from chronic pain were receiving medications that had been through the most stringent peer-reviewed clinical trials…not bumped onto the market because palms were greased.

And yet we have the wonderful Professor Stanton Glantz who, if you peek at print media every now and then, is more omnipresent than a deity on a public relations campaign.

Last week confirmation came that he receives an honorarium from the World Health Organisation to slant his studies to match WHO’s objectives.

Clearly, I have no evidence of Glantz possessing a bulging research bank account but I am minded of a scene from Hamlet, after Horatio and Marcellus spot his dead Dad:

He waxes desperate with imagination.

Let’s follow. ‘Tis not fit thus to obey him.

Have after. To what issue will this come?

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. [that it festers with moral and political corruption]

Heaven will direct it. [that God will sort it all out]

Nay, let’s follow him. [that we have to sort it out ourselves]


Consequently, I feel a wash of FOI requests need to be brought to bare who is funding the man. The only problem with this is that the tobacco industry did just this quite extensively in the 1990s to tie the man up in red tape.

I do tend to side with Marcellus on this, it’s something we need to sort out ourselves – just like what I need to do with the black box that used to be a hard drive.