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Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Jenson Button - Gullibility in a Bottle?



It kinda sickens me when I see highly paid sports personalities, actors, pop/rock legends promote the use of pharmaceutical wares - be they prescription medications or consumer products.

I understand that careers are short in the above industries, unless you acting capabilities of the De Niro, Pacino ilk.

Jenson Button is a young man, idolized by many. He performs miracles as he travels at huge speeds in his race car - He has a huge fan base and it's probably hard for him to decipher who his real friends are opposed to the hangers-on who, when the chips are down, will leave him by the wayside and move on to the next hero.

I have no personal interest in Jenson Button, McLaren or Motorsports - in fact, I find Motorsports mind-numbingly boring, to me it's akin to watching a goldfish swim in circles... only far more noisy.

For those that don't know... and I only know because I've sat and researched, Jenson Button is a British Formula One driver from England currently signed to McLaren. His interest in driving fueled by his love for Karting from the age of just 8 years of age.

I'm not about to write a biography on Button, if you want to know more use Google as a resource.

I am, however, interested in Button's recent alignment to British pharmaceutical giant, GlaxoSmithKline. Sure, it's purely about the money - sponsorship deals usually are, only in this instance Button, I truly believe, has been misguided by his people, the very same people that will leave him by the wayside when a better child protegee comes along.

Button is currently promoting GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade Sports, a drink that has been the subject of controversy during the past few years or so. This really isn't my issue with Button's gullibility, naivety,  ignorance... call it what you will.

The one striking fact is that Button is promoting GlaxoSmithKline, a pharmaceutical company that have a very dark history when it comes to the safety and efficacy of medicines in children and adolescents.

Button, ironically, seen here with a whiskey promotion on his helmet [Fig 1], it would appear is all about the money - and why shouldn't he be, his career will be short.


Fig 1
There are other ways of earning money through sponsorship and to align oneself with a pharmaceutical company with an appaling record of disregard toward children may be something Button's advisers either overlooked or were blinded by the sign of the $$$.

This, is for Button, it's for his advisory team, it's for McLaren.

I doubt for one minute that Button or his highly paid PR team will flinch at the following. I can't imagine that they went into this sponsorship deal without knowing what they were advertising and who the manufacturers were... more importantly, the history of the manufacturers behind Lucozade Sports drinks.

Would Button have agreed to the sponsorship deal if he knew that...

The Rohm & Haas Company and SmithKline Beecham P.L.C. agreed to spend about $125 million to clean up the former Whitmoyer Laboratories site in Myerstown, Pa., the Justice Department said. Whitmoyer Laboratories manufactured veterinary pharmaceuticals from 1934 to 1984. During that time, toxic materials -- aniline and soluble arsenic compounds -- were produced, stored and disposed at the site. [1]

A Wyoming jury awarded $6.4 million to the family of a man who killed three relatives and himself after taking the antidepressant Paxil, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline [2]

British drug regulators warn that GlaxoSmithKline's popular antidepressant Paxil causes depressed children to become more suicidal and should not be prescribed for them. [3]

Two fourteen-year-old students busted Glaxo for lying about the Vitamin C content of the Ribena drink. [4]

British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline finally admits that thousands of babies in the UK country were inoculated with a batch of toxic whooping cough vaccines in the 1970's. [5]

In September 1992 the Ulverston site (then owned by Glaxo Wellcome) dumped several toxic chemicals in the river Leven, without authorisation. The chemicals included trichloroethylene, chloroform, and chlorobenzene [6]

A new BBC documentary exposes how the city of New York has been forcing HIV-positive children under its supervision to be used as human guinea pigs in tests for experimental AIDS drug trials. GlaxoSmithKline embroiled in unethical clinical trials. [7]

US Senator requests documents from GlaxoSmithKline that highlights the company knew about the Paxil suicide risk in children and adolescents but chose not to go public with its findings [8]

GlaxoSmithKline's Rotavirus vaccine linked to infant deaths [9]

GlaxoSmithKline delayed informing the authorities that a controversial drug increased the likelihood of suicide among teenagers. [10]

A US family awarded $2.5 million (£1.6 million) in damages after a Philadelphia jury decided GlaxoSmithKline's antidepressant Paxil, known as Seroxat in Britain, was responsible for their son's birth defects. [11]


A mass immunisation campaign with a Urabe-containing MMR vaccine was carried out in 1997 in the city of Salvador, NE Brazil, with a target population of children aged 1-11 years. There was an outbreak of aseptic meningitis following the mass campaign in which GlaxoSmithKline's Pluserix was administered. [12]

GlaxoSmithKline Argentina Laboratories Company was fined 400,000 pesos by Judge Marcelo Aguinsky following a report issued by the National Administration of Medicine, Food and Technology (ANMAT in Spanish) for irregularities during lab vaccine trials conducted between 2007 and 2008 that allegedly killed 14 babies. [13]

In the largest settlement involving a pharmaceutical company, the British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges and pay $3 billion in fines for promoting its best-selling antidepressants for unapproved uses and failing to report safety data about a top diabetes drug [14]

Way to go Jenson!

Bob Fiddaman


[1] Smithkline and Rohm & Haas to Clean up Toxic Site [1992 - New York Times]
[2] Jury Awards $6.4 Million In Killings Tied to Drug [2001 - New York Times]
[3] Britain Says Use of Paxil By Children Is Dangerous [2003 - New York Times]
[4] Anna Devathasan and Jenny Suo: The Ribena girls [2007 - New Zealand Herald]
[5] UK babies given toxic vaccines, admits Glaxo [2002 - The Guardian]
[6] North's top polluters named [2002 - BBC News]
[7] Guinea Pig Kids: How New York City is Using Children to Test Experimental AIDS Drugs [2004 - BBC TV]
[8] Sen. Grassley Questions Glaxo on Paxil and Suicide Risk [2008 - Wall Street Journal]
[9] Pneumonia deaths seen with Glaxo vaccine: FDA [2008 - Reuters]
[10] Drugs firms face new laws on test results [2008 - The Guardian]
[11] GSK antidepressant Paxil to blame for baby's heart defects, US jury rules [2009 - The Telegraph]
[12] Outbreak of Aseptic Meningitis associated with Mass Vaccination with a Urabe-containing Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccine [2000 - American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol 151, No. 5.]
[13] GSK fined over vaccine trials; 14 babies reported dead [2012 - Buenos Aires Herald]
[14] Glaxo Agrees to Pay $3 Billion in Fraud Settlement [2012 - New York Times]





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