The Zika Virus: Big Moneymaker for Big Pharma?

By Gary Olson, Ph.D., a member of the political science department at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA.

[Note: The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus an international public health emergency and some four million people may be infected this year. Zika may cause brain damage and unusually small heads in newborns—called microcephaly. Women who become infected while pregnant are at especially high risk.]

Uppyurs Pharmaceuticals, the drug manufacturing behemoth, is frantically attempting to vanquish rivals Novartis, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and others by producing a Zika vaccine. A copy of the minutes from a recent Uppyurs Executive Board meeting was surreptitiously obtained by the author.

According to the minutes, “If everything breaks right we will have a Zika vaccine on the market by mid-2018 and we anticipate revenues in the range of $7.5 billion dollars. Proceeding with this is a no-brainer.”

The report also reveals that $78.00 for a single Zika inoculation will price the vaccine out of reach for all but the wealthy in the world’s 35 poorest countries. One of our serious challenges is to neutralize a guilt-ridden American public’s demand to make the vaccine more accessible or even—God help us—free to poor people. Our strategy includes:

  • Because Americans are almost pathologically compassionate, we’ve been working on an empathy-inhibitor medication under the brand name ClearSoul. We can report that ClearSoul has been clinically tested on Uppyurs’s upper level management and has proven 100% effective. ClearSoul promises to be the most lucrative product in Uppyurs’s history, if not the history of the world. We saw a need and filled it. ClearSoul will be timed for market release just as Zika is declared a pandemic.
  • Massive lobbying of Senate Foreign Relations Committee members so any government attempting to develop an inexpensive, generic version of the vaccine will be immediately accused of aiding and abetting global terrorism and be targeted by the U.S. drone attacks. We anticipate this will be an easy sell to the media and the public.
  • As a distraction and to lighten the mood, we’ll prepare a series of small-headed baby jokes such as, “Why will Brazil’s soccer teams fail to make the World Cup after 2028? They’ll be unable to head the ball.”
  • Friendly media sources have agreed to “tell Uppyurs’s story,” an inspiring narrative we’ve ghost written and which recommends that a Nobel Prize for Selfless Giving be created and bestowed upon Uppyurs Corporation. As a PR move, we’ll donate the Nobel Prize cash award of $1.5 million to the “Tiny Hoodies for Zika Victims” campaign and emblazon them with the Red, White and Blue Uppyurs logo.
  • Candidly acknowledging the fact that immunizations in underdeveloped countries now cost nearly 70 times as much as they did in 2001, but that’s only because of supply and demand. Not enough poor people have died off, but that should change soon.
  • When questioned about lowering costs for the Zika vaccine, our standard mantra is that we need to pay huge legal fees for patenting the manufacturing process, and who could deny the fairness of $25 million dollar bonuses for each member of our board of directors?
  • Regrettably, governments of these desperately poor countries can only afford one vaccination program, including but not limited to Zika, whooping cough, TB, cholera, Ebola, Nipah virus, malaria, hepatitis B and D, HIV/AIDS and dengue fever. Given the immense profit margins for us, we’ve already bribed most public health ministers to choose Zika. The others will be banished from office by inventive, high profile sex and corruption scandals.
  • Our invariable response to all criticism will be: Maximizing shareholder profits would be an egregious violation of our God-given, fiduciary trust. Anything less would be both Un-American and socialist.
  • Finally, we’re working on an exciting new marketing slogan, tentatively titled:

Uppyurs: Making the World Healthier for Those of Us Who Really Matter.


This meeting is adjourned and, as always, “God Bless America and God Bless Uppyurs!”



Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Jeff

    This is not funny.
    While searching the ‘Net for something particular on Healthcare IT stuff, I came three times across the same message: the healthcare challenge for 2016 is to change from a ‘cost-based’ model (whatever that means) to a ‘value-based’ model (translation: your money or your life).
    Indebted and enslaved from cradle to grave.
    Good luck to you.

    1. abynormal

      “Comedy is a distortion of what is happening, and there will always be something happening.” Steve Martin


      “The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole …explains why the majority of us are BIPOLAR

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        Speaking of unintentional comedy, isn’t “Uppyurs Pharmaceuticals” an appropriate description of the business model of the entire industry?

  2. b

    “Is it too late to cancel the Olympics?”

    Why would anyone want to? Zika is lesser flue virus. Normal symptoms are some three days of light indispositions, maybe a bit of headache and a snotty nose. Then its over to never come back.

    The whole selling point of “Zika fear” ™ is that it MAY cause microcephaly when an infections occurs in a certain stage of pregnancy.

    With MAY being the operative word of the whole sales show! See here:

    There is neither a proven sudden outbreak of microcephaly anywhere nor is there any proven relation of microcephaly cases and Zika. The Brazilian studies, and the metastudy of the WHO based on them, are unreliable because there are no reliable old numbers for comparison. (Criteria for when microcephaly was diagnosed – if at all – varied widely) While there seem to be some local cluster of new microcephaly cases in some parts of Brazil these may well have been caused by local environmental causes. There is no established causation chain and just a hint of correlation.

    So why would anyone think of canceling the Olympics over this?

    1. cnchal

      . . .While there seem to be some local cluster of new microcephaly cases in some parts of Brazil these may well have been caused by local environmental causes . . .

      May is just around the corner, and nobody knows what’s really going on.

      Is it too late to cancel the Olympics?

    2. reslez

      Your information may be out of date. The most recent research indicates there is a link and Zika does pose a danger to fetal health. The virus has been linked to additional neurological disorders including Guillain-Barré.

      Link between Zika virus and fetal brain damage confirmed – “Zika virus can be detected in blood samples taken from a pregnant woman while brain damage is developing, as well as isolated in cell culture from the brain tissue of the fetus.”

      5 Reasons to Think the Zika Virus Causes Microcephaly – The surge in microcephaly is documented, the virus crosses the placental barrier, etc

      Zika virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome linked in new CDC study

      Zika Linked to Ever More Neurological Conditions

      Sophisticated ‘mini-brains’ add to evidence of Zika’s toll on fetal cortex

  3. EndOfTheWorld

    Big pharma aside, the pesticide companies will be doing a brisk profit. I have read that Obama wants to spray down large sections of the US in hopes of killing some mosquitoes. (1) Will it actually work? (2) What about the unintended side effects of laying down all that poison?

    1. Synoia

      I had read that the anti-mosquito spray was a suspect in the microcephaly….

      I perceive microcephaly much under-diagnosed. It appears rampant in the US, or am I mistaking the symptoms for greed induced blindness?

  4. TomDority

    The pesticide may be the cause of microcephali ….. Fear has worked so well in politics for so long…it is no wonder that industry has followed suit. Ugh.

  5. Steve H.

    Obvious flaw in the argument: False positives generated in the ClearSoul study. To test whether a condition can be treated, the subject must have the condition, or its later lack shows up as a false positive. ClearSoul was tested on upper level management, a cohort for which the underlying condition is manifested only rarely.

  6. Archie

    It’s good business for the pest exterminators and lawn care companies in my area. I’ve been getting at least 3-4 calls per week since late winter.

  7. dee preston

    This is all another psych op to vacinnate everyone. Can’t wait to see the side affects of this one. Do not put that poison in your body. The chances of pesticides causing the “zika virus” is greater than the virus itself. We are all just another experiment for a very corrupt and criminal government. I am so sick of the big pharma monoplies and their fake science!! Stop poisoning the world!! We are all in big trouble if we allow this to continue. Are we all really THAT stupid!?

    1. Francois Theberge, MD, San Diego

      Oh! look ‘Ma…an anti-vaxxer; you obviously haven’t lived long enough to witness a world WITHOUT vaccines. That wasn’t such a long time ago; just talk to the mothers of children decimated by the rubella virus during the 1950 – 1960s in the USA.

      The only stupids are those who refuse to learn from history.

      1. ke

        So your opinion trumps, because you are an M.D., laughable, and yes I was around back then. An opinion is on thing, craming it down other people’s throats is another, and the history of medicine is fascist, and superstitious. Medicine knows less than nothing about genetics, which makes it like a teenager with a driving license.

        1. ke

          They learned nothing in the genome project, which was just another boondoggle, and again grew more confident in what they don’t know.

        2. ke

          Just so as you know, I refused the vaxk for my baby, your sister took possession and gave it to her anyway, putting her in the icu, spending over 1million so far, turning her into a lab rat.

      2. Gaianne


        We all know vaccines work: Edward Jenner, studying cowpox and developing a vaccine for smallpox, and all that.

        But that was in the 19th century, when medicine was concerned with curing and preventing disease.

        We are now in the 21st century. Medicine is concerned with making profits. So who is looking after safety? Who is looking after effectiveness? The pharmaceutical companies plainly are not doing these things. The government agencies and bodies of doctors who used to do these things seem oddly less capable of doing so of late.

        Vaccines can no longer be taken on trust alone. We need some evidence. It is time to start taking that need seriously.


        1. Yves Smith Post author

          The FDA tests extensively on efficacy and safety. In fact, the big complaint about the FDA is that it’s the efficacy testing that costs the big bucks, and we’d have a lot more “innovation” if the FDA tested for safety alone. Now there have been some misses, like the bad sexual side effects of anti-depressants, but there is testing done before vaccines are put into use.

          The overhyping of vaccinations is for ailments where the incidence is low. The case for HPV vaccinations is really weak, since it cover only 70% of the HPV viruses. Plus the vaccine might contribute to less condom use. And they have really limited its use in Japan due to that plus some bad adverse reactions from the shot itself. That is the sort of thing that should have been caught with testing, but I haven’t seen reports like that out of the US.

          I happen to know someone who knows the couple behind the anti-vaxxing movement personally. The wife, who is the real driving force, nearly came to blows with his wife, an medical academic/researcher, because the anti-vaxxer couldn’t provide real substantiation for her claims re autism.

          And the group they’ve funded had their campaign blow up in their face. The study they funded to prove a connection between vaccinations and autism found none. It was a very well constructed study done by independent researchers. So the anti-vax movement all came from the aggressive marketing by a wealthy CA couple that enlisted wealthy friends who were sorry about their children’s autism.

          So let me repeat: there is no solid science behind this fearmongering.

          I can see being concerned about how many vaccines kids now take, and whether the total might be contributing to higher levels of allergies, although overly clean environments (kids not getting outside enough in dirt and with animals) has already been proven to be a big contributor.

          1. Skippy

            Am I correct to surmise the anti-vax’ers need someone to blame for their kids autism, because that could not happen to them – ???? – and to top it all off enlisted friends under the guise of altruism….

            Disheveled marsupial…. that makes that guy I pointed out long ago offering a Mil to babysit his daughter, to her boy friend after the head injury, status perception and off load responsibility…. look positively saintly…

      3. ke

        Would somebody please study genetics. Population medicine applied indiscriminately to the individual, the only possible outcome, can only result in the release of retrovirus over time.

        I’m starting to wonder. Now the goons have sent their NAZI social workers into town to tell people my wife and I are on meth, and if they don’t go along, they lose their jobs, which is pretty stupid because we live in a small town where everyone knows one or both of us.

        Illuminati or no, global mafia or no, NAZI socialists or no, this house of cards, the majority always voting to blame the minority, is coming down, because it’s just too stupid.

  8. Brooklin Bridge

    It’s hard to make good snark with the pharmaceutical industry. They are so brazen that you have to push it beyond the absurd lest you find yourself simply describing what is, day to day, with no humor anywhere to be found.

    I can imagine some board meetings where this memo wouldn’t raise an eye brow other than perhaps, “This is an internal document, no?” The 25 million wouldn’t hurt either, assuming they noticed it. Pour me another shot of ClearSoul please, quick!

    Cuba apparently has a vaccine for cancer which it gives for free to all of it’s citizens. One has to wonder how long that will last before Cuba – with a little help – finds it’s entrepreneurial spirit perhaps with a chaser of ClearSold.

  9. jefemt

    Very S L I C C . The new primary threshold for any business plan: is it a self-licking ice cream cone?

  10. ke

    I just gave a homeless guy my job, because I can always get another or make one. If those capable of moving ahead do not, the system locks up. By employing the majority desire to avoid change themselves to control the minority, the psychologists have licked the system up, which begins in public education, when little Johnny refuses to be like everyone else and accept peer pressure, and gets drugged by the psychologist for the effort.

    Not only has the majority subjected itself to genetic degeneration and retroviruses, but the psychologists are also accelerating the process with each inoculation, which is why they are so desperate to get a hold of stem cells, in an attempt to short their own stupidity, for the sake of the handful of sociopaths employing them. A lot of people are going to die miserably for following them, because DNA is now protecting itself, by killing the host, and the psychologists will never gain control of DNA, with or without the help of geneticists.

    Vermont is an economic shhole because massholes are employing it as an escape valve. When Bernie says that, he will, be worth taking seriously.

  11. polecat

    This all sounds like the Ebola media squirrel of recent past……….but without the death quotient !!

    But Hey…….those innocuous new and improved ‘trade agreements’ don’t need to be scrutinized…….right?

    ……nor mention of our oligarchic induced f#cked-up economy……..

    1. polecat

      ……cant’ wait for Big Pharma to push some form of ‘Bliss Plus’** onto the world stage………

      ** a reference from the novel ‘Oryx and Crake’

  12. Peter VE

    If Zika was first identified in humans 64 years ago in Uganda, why have there not been any news about outbreaks of microcephaly in the areas where Zika in the areas where it has been endemic? Either: 1) We need not worry about the lesser people beyond the law; 2) The news is being deliberately suppressed; or 3) There were no cases of microcephaly linked to Zika before now. Why now? Cui bono?

  13. LifelongLib

    Like global warming deniers, Zika deniers are going to find out that nature is no respecter of politics…

  14. sgt_doom

    After reading Sonia Shah’s book, Pandemic, and No Such Thing as a Free Gift, by Linsey McGoey, and the New Prophets of Capital, by Nicole Aschoff, I don’t think there is anything funny about the W.H.O., especially since their major donor is the Gates Foundation, which brooks no input nor dissent!

    And since the Gates Foundation is more private sector oriented, we saw the results: not immediately attacking head-on the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa as it might hurt their tourism and mining industries, and instead allowing it go get out of hand and run amok!

    And now the Zika virus, which they have yet to mentioned just happened to show up where the Gates Foundation-financed Oxitec firm (since sold off) released genetically modified mosquitoes (Brazil, Florida, the Caribbean and I believe also Malaysia).

  15. Blondinka Florida

    There is a new commercial on TV by big Pharma. It is for a diabetes drug. The name of the med is something like Trujoio or something. When they are saying the name it sounds like “go to jail”. I’m not kidding. Sounds just like “go to jail”. I thought: Not well researched by marketing department. Anyone else seen/heard this?

Comments are closed.