From the January 2005 Idaho Observer:

Big Pharma, quackbusters and 60 Minutes

Big Pharma’s "quackbuster" operation went into overdrive a few months ago trying to find a story, any story, to take the heat off Merck’s mass murder of over 55,000 Americans with its deadly pain reliever Vioxx.  Merck had been caught spending over 500 million dollars to mass market Vioxx after the pharmaceutical giant was well aware, and took steps to cover up, the drug’s  deadly characteristics. 

  Now, we know, that the number of Vioxx fatalities is closer to 139,000.  As yet, none of the Merck executives involved have been arrested, nor have any of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agents involved in the cover-up been arrested.

Big pharma’s quackbusters

 The quackbusters are Big Pharma’s "black-operatives," charged with damaging and discrediting, in any way possible, anyone or anything competing with drug sales.  A New York ad agency currently choreographs the global quackbusting campaign.

 The New York ad agency’s quackbusters came up with a story to soften the blow to pharma’s credibility due to the Vioxx scandal. They chose to attack South Carolina MD Jim Shortt, falsely claiming that he had somehow killed a patient using an intravenous hydrogen peroxide therapy.

 You can learn about the attack and the background on Dr. Shortt by reading "The Long Story About Jim Shortt" posted to the website at

 The attack on Dr. Shortt was poorly designed—the trademark of failed-MD-turned-quackbuster Stephen Barrett, the author of the website at The editorial intent of Quackwatch is to misinform readers about health alternatives to drugs and those who advocate or administer them.

 The quackbusters figured the solo practitioner from South Carolina would be an easy target who could not defend himself against a media assault that would destroy his reputation as an example to other physicians. The plan may have worked, but Dr. Shortt has very loyal patients, is well-respected by his peers and received huge support from the husband of one of his patients—a state senator and partner in one of South Carolina’s largest law firms.


Big Pharma prepares a quackbuster assault

 In South Carolina, the quackbusters had an "inside man" in the local newspaper.  Cliff LeBlanc, a writer for "The State" newspaper has an unusual fondness for quackbuster attorney Richard Gergel.  Gergel is listed as a legal advisor to 

 LeBlanc, in his first articles about Dr. Shortt, was so blatantly prejudiced, and wild-eyed, against alternatives,  it appeared his articles were actually written by the New York ad agency.  Based, on Leblanc’s sensationalism, The New York Times picked up the story, then CBS’s 60 Minutes called.  Then the Associated Press.

The 60 Minutes story aired January 12, 2005. Tim Bolen, one of the world’s most visible and outspoken advocates for health freedom and himself the object of virulent electronic quackbuster angst, was alerted to the 60 Minutes segment while it was in production. He described to the production staff the story behind the quack attack on Dr. Shortt and interviews explaining what really happened were taped by 60 Minutes.

 "The 60 Minutes producer called me this morning and said ‘tonight’s the night,’" said Bolen in his report on Jan.12. 

The story did air. It was primarily a journalistically yellow and informationally deficient slam on Dr. Shortt, though some of Bolen’s input was evidently sewn into the script. The story centered around comments from the elderly wife of a man who died of cancer while taking treatment from an orthodox oncologist and Dr. Shortt. Dr. Shortt was using harmless therapeutic agents to help reverse the man’s cancer; the oncologist was using dangerous drugs and toxic chemotherapy. Therefore, the wife and organized medicine and 60 Minutes chose to blame Dr. Shortt for the man’s death.

The story illustrates how little respect network TV producers have for the minds (and bodies) of viewers and how desperate organized medicine is becoming as more and more people begin to realize how badly the advocates of modern medicine have betrayed us.

With thanks to Tim Bolen for his vigilance in busting the quackbusters as they attempt to promote the sales of drugs by destroying those who have found a better way.

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