Murder by Injection
The first significant figure in American medicine, according to Geoffrey Marks, was the theologian Cotton Mather (1663-1728). The son of Increase Mather, the President of Harvard University, Cotton Mather wrote many theological works, but also wrote a full length medical work, "The Angel of Bethesda" on which he wrote from 1720 to 1724. His medical letters drew heavily on local Indian lore; he also pondered the mental factor in illness, noting that "A cheerful Heart does Good like a Medicine, but a broken Spirit dries the Bones."
Mather seems to have been the first and last theologian to be interested in the practice of American medicine. The next figure of importance in American medicine was a Dr. Nathan Smith Davis (1817-1904). After apprenticing under Dr. Daniel Clark in upstate New York, Davis moved to New York in 1847. As early as 1845, he had demanded that the Medical Society of the State of New York correct the more flagrant abuses in medical education, insisting that the four months of instruction then in vogue be increased to a period of six months. On May 11, 1846, he convened a group of physicians in New York to form the nucleus of the American Medical Association. The organization took on formal status the following year in Philadelphia, on May 5, 1847, the official date the American Medical Association came into being. The hundred delegates to the New York meeting had swelled to over two hundred and fifty at Philadelphia. They soon formed state organizations in a number of states. Smith later moved to Chicago, where he joined the faculty of Rush Medical School. In 1883, when the AMA founded its Journal, he became the first editor, serving until 1889.
Despite the good intentions of its founder, Dr. Davis, the AMA remained moribund for some fifty years. In 1899, the organization took a giant step forward, with the arrival of one Dr. George H. Simmons from Nebraska. Simmons, who throughout his life was known, perhaps derisively, as "Doc," is now remembered as the pre-eminent American quack. Born in Moreton, England, Simmons immigrated to the United States in 1870. Settling in the Midwest, he began his career as a joumalist. It is interesting that the two other dominant figures in twentieth century American medicine, Dr. Morris Fishbein and Albert Lasker, also began their careers as journalists; Fishbein remained a journalist all his life. Simmons became the editor of the Nebraska Farmer in Lincoln, Nebraska. Several years later, he decided to improve his finances by launching on a career of unparalleled medical quackery. Interestingly enough, the AMA in 1868 had formally defined quackery as "the sale or administration of drugs or treatments that are not approved by legally constituted medical authorities." Simmons ignored this requirement. No one has ever been able to determine that he had studied anywhere to qualify for a medical degree. Nevertheless, he began to advertise that he was a "licentiate of the Rotunda Hospital of Dublin," referring, presumably, to Dublin, Ireland. In fact, Dublin Hospital had never issued any licenses, nor was it authorized to do so. (See Illustration No. 2, full page opposite.)
No one ever bothered to raise the question as to why Simmons, who had supposedly arrived in the United States as a duly licensed physician, chose instead to practice journalism for some years. He also advertised that he had spent "a year and a half in the largest hospitals in London," although he refrained from making any claims as to what capacity whether as a patient, an orderly or other functionary. Years later, he obtained a diploma by mail from one of the nation's flourishing diploma mills, Rush Medical College in Chicago, while maintaining a full time medical practice in Lincoln. There is no record that he ever set foot on the campus of Rush Medical College prior to obtaining this degree. His protege, Morris Fishbein, also attended Rush Medical College. There was some question as to whether Fishbein ever actually graduated; years later, in his time of influence, he became a "professor" there, specializing in teaching the public relations aspects of medicine.
In their definitive work, "The Story of Medicine in America," an exhaustive and detailed compilation, the authors, Geoffrey Marks and William K. Beatty, make no mention of either Simmons or Fishbein, seemingly a glaring omission, as they are the two most notorious practitioners in our medical history. Apparently realizing that these two men were the two most famous quacks in medical history, the authors prudently decided to ignore them.
In Who's Who Simmons notes that he practiced medicine in Lincoln from 1884 to 1899. He lists his degree as L.M. Dublin 1884. This raises further questions. Simmons had immigrated to the United States in 1870; he remained continuously in Lincoln from 1870 to 1899, when he went to Chicago. For some reason, he forebore the listing of the mail order diploma from Rush Medical College in his Who's Who listing in the 1936 edition; he had listed it in the 1922 edition as receiving it in 1892. Here again, no one later raised the question of his educational record, which showed that he only began his medical education in Dublin after he had come to the United States. "Doc" Simmons' advertisements in Lincoln, which we have reproduced here, employed a standard phraseology of the time, "A limited number of lady patients can be accommodated at my residence." This was a coded notification that he was engaged in the practice of abortion. He also operated a beauty and massage parlor on the premises, as part of a "Lincoln Institute" of which he was apparently the only official. His advertisements also identified him as a "homeopathic physician," although he would soon embark on a career with the AMA to destroy the profession of homeopathy in the United States. His advertisements announced that he "treats all medical and surgical diseases of women."
Having learned about the American Medical Association, Simmons, always in search of more status, formed a Nebraska chapter, the Nebraska Medical Association. His talents as an organizer came to the attention of the Chicago headquarters, and he was summoned to take over the editorship of the Journal of the AMA. Thus "Doc" Simmons came to the AMA, not as a physician, but as a journalist. He found that the AMA was drifting along, with no one capable of implementing a national policy. The situation was made to order for a man of his capacities and drive. He soon named himself as secretary and general manager of the American Medical Association, launching the organization on its dictatorial and self-aggrandizing policies which it has maintained to the present day. All moneys accruing to the AMA passed through Simmons' hands, and he personally supervised every detail of the operations. He soon found an able and willing lieutenant in a man who had formerly served as a Secretary of the Kentucky State Board of Health. He seems to have been a man after Simmons' own heart, for he had been arrested after examiners found a shortage of some $62,000 in his accounts. As a member in good standing of the state bureaucracy, he managed to obtain an official pardon from the Governor of Kentucky, with the gentle admonition that it might be best for him to settle elsewhere. Chicago was only a short train ride away, where he found that Simmons was overwhelmed by his credentials. This gentleman, Dr. E.E. Hyde, died in 1912 from leukemia. This proved to be a fortuitous circumstance for another joumalist waiting in the wings, Dr. Morris Fishbein. Fishbein had apparently completed his studies at Rush Medical College, but he had not yet been awarded his diploma. In any case, he did not want to become a doctor. He had desultorily served as an intern at Durand Hospital for a few months, but he was unwilling to comply with the then regulations requiring a two year internship in an accredited hospital. He was seriously considering a career as a circus acrobat, and had been working part time as an extra in an opera company. He had also learned of a possible opening at the AMA, and had been doing some part time writing there during Dr. Hyde's terminal illness. Simmons had also found Fishbein to be a man after his own heart. When Dr. Hyde died. Simmons at once offered the youth a very handsome starting salary of $100 a month, a high figure for 1913. Fishbein found a home at the AMA; he did not leave until 1949, when he was literally kicked out.
With the advent of Fishbein, the American Medical Association was now firmly in the hands of the nation's two most aggressive quacks, Simmons, who had practised medicine for years, unembarrassed by the fact that he had no medical degree which would hold up under the light of day, and Morris Fishbein, who admitted under oath in 1938 that he had never practised medicine a day in his life. Because "Doc" Simmons, as he was genially known, had never shown any motivation in his career except greed, he soon realized that the enormous power of which the AMA was capable had in effect launched him into a gold mine. He was not slow to request certain considerations in return for the favor or the goodwill of the AMA. First and foremost was its "Seal of Approval" for new products. Since the AMA early on had virtually no laboratory, testing equipment or research staff, the Seal of Approval was obtained by "green research," that is, the laborious determination of how much the supplicant could afford to pay, and how much it might be worth to him. At first, some pharmaceutical manufacturers resented this arrangement, and refused to pay. The leader of this opposition was one Dr. Wallace C. Abbott, who had founded Abbott Laboratories in 1900. Simmons met him head on by refusing to approve a single product of Abbott Laboratories, no matter how many were submitted. This standoff continued for some time, until one morning, "Doc" Simmons was visibly shaken to see Dr. Abbott towering over him in his office.
"Well, sir," he stammered, "and just what can I do for you ?"
"I just came down to hear from you personally" Dr. Abbott replied, "why not one of my products has ever been approved by the AMA."
"That's not really my department, sir," "Doc" Simmons replied, "but I'll be glad to check with our research department and find out what the problem is."
"Is there any way I could speed up your inquiry ?" asked Dr. Abbott.
Simmons was overjoyed. At last the stubborn chemist was beginning to see things his way. "I'll be glad to do whatever I can," he said. "There is something you can do," said Dr. Abbott, "if you would be so good as to look over these documents, it might help you to make up your mind."
He spread a number of papers out on "Doc" Simmons' desk. Simmons immediately realized that he was looking at a complete record of his career, carefully garnered by private detectives who had been hired by Dr. Abbott. There were the full details of the so-called "diplomas"; records of sex charges brought against Simmons by former patients in Lincoln, and other titillating items, such as charges of medical negligence resulting in the deaths of patients. He knew that he was trapped.
"All right," said Simmons, "just what is it you want ?"
"All I want is to have the AMA grant approval of my products," said Dr. Abbott. "Do you think that is possible, now ?"
"You've got it," said Simmons. From that day, the products from Abbott's firm, which was still called Abbott Biologicals at that time, were rushed through the AMA process and marked "Approved." Dr. Abbott never paid one cent for this special treatment.
Through the years, various versions of the Abbott-Simmons conflict were repeated. A whitewashed version appears in Tom Mahoney's "Merchants of Life," which claims that Simmons objected to Dr. Abbott's "commercialization" of the medical profession, and wished to teach him a lesson. The Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry not only refused to approve any of Abbott's drugs, but also turned down his requests to advertise in the journal of the American Medical Association, and later refused to print his letters of protest. Simmons then launched personal attacks on Dr. Abbott in the Journal in the issues of December 1907 and March 1908. Simmons' pious claim that he did not wish to see Dr. Abbott commercializing the medical profession rings hollow; Abbott was manufacturing pharmaceutical products for sale. The rub was that he refused to pay the usual shakedown to Simmons. After the imbroglio was settled, S. DeWitt Clough, Abbott's advertising manager, became a bridge playing crony of Morris Fishbein.
A spirited critic of the AMA during its Simmons-Fishbein period, Dr. Emanuel Josephson of New York, wrote, "The methods which Simmons and his crew used in their battle for a monopoly of medical publications and of advertisements to the profession were often crude and illegitimate ... The AMA has openly threatened firms that advertise in media other than their own journals with withdrawal of acceptance' of their products." Dr. Josephson described Simmons' practices as "conspiracy in restraint of trade, and extortion." He further charged, again correctly, that "almost every branch of the Federal Government active in the field of medicine was completely dominated by the Association." This was borne out by the present writer, who cites many instances later of government agencies actively implementing the most horrendous cases of racketeering by the Drug Trust. So exhaustive were the controls set in place by Simmons that the President of the AMA, Dr. Nathan B. van Etten, later filed a sworn affidavit in the New York District Court that he, as President of the American Medical Association, had no authority to accept any moneys or enter into any contracts. All such deals were the province of the Chicago headquarters staff. It was later noted that AMA "focuses on protecting physicians' incomes against government intrusion in the practice of medicine." This was a case of having their cake and eating it too. While steadfastly opposing any government supervision of the Medical Monopoly, the monopolists frequently forced various government agencies to act against anyone who posed a threat to their monopoly, having them arrested, prosecuted, and sent to prison.
"Doc" Simmons' lucrative dominance of the American Medical Association led him into numerous sidelines. In 1921, he established the Institute of Medicine in Chicago. This apparently was nothing more than a holding company for his bribes. He had also been enjoying the perquisites of the American success story, a buxom mistress installed in a luxurious Gold Coast apartment. Scoundrel that he was, Simmons was not content to flaunt this liaison to his wife; he also became increasingly cruel in his determination to get rid of her. He then embarked on a classic ploy, the physician attempting to dispose of an unwanted wife by plying her with narcotics, trying to convince her that she is going insane, and hopefully, driving her to suicide. After some months of this treatment, his wife fought back by filing suit against him. A highly publicized trial in 1924 ended in his wife's testimony that he had given her heavy doses of narcotics, prescribed on the strength of his "medical experience," and then began proceedings to have her declared insane. This was not such an unusual procedure during that period; it had happened to literally hundreds of wives. However, his wife proved to be tougher than most victims. She testified in court that he had tried to have her framed on a charge of insanity. This trial inspired more than a dozen subsequent books, plays, and movies based on the story of a physician who tries to drive his wife insane through a campaign of ministration of drugs and psychological terrorism. The most famous was "Gaslight," in which Charles Boyer played the role of "Doc" Simmons to perfection, the luckless wife being played by Ingrid Bergman.
The trial brought Simmons a torrent of unpleasant publicity, and forced his retirement as head of the AMA. However, he retained the title of "general editor emeritus," absenting himself in 1924 until his death in 1937. Morris Fishbein, still operating under his lucky star, was now moved into total dominance of the AMA. Between the two of them, they controlled the AMA for more than a half century, perfecting their techniques for using this organization to raise money, exercise political clout, and maintain dominance over physicians, hospitals, drug companies and concerned government agencies. Simmons moved to Hollywood, Florida, where he lived until 1937. His New York Times obituary was headlined "Noted for War on Quacks." His longtime critic, Dr. Emanuel Josephson, noted that this was an odd memorial for a man who had long been known as "the Prince of Quacks."
Morris Fishbein also inherited Simmons' able assistant at the AMA, Dr. Olin West (1874-1952). West had been state director in Tennessee for the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission from 1910 to 1918. Thus he had the requisite credentials as a representative of the Rockefeller connection at the AMA headquarters. Dr. Josephson later termed Fishbein "the Hitler of the medical profession" and West as "his Goering." Fishbein remained aware of the AMA's ability to "use" government employees for AMA purposes. Of the first fifteen members of the Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry, three had been members of the federal government.
With the disappearance of Simmons, Fishbein now had a free hand. From that day on, he made sure that when anyone mentioned the AMA, they also paid tribute to Moms Fishbein. He used his position there to launch a host of private enterprises, including book publishing, lecturing, and writing feature newspaper columns. On a very modest salary of $24,000 a year from the AMA, Fishbein became the Playboy of the Western World. His children were supervised by a French governess, while he commuted weekly to New York to be seen at the Stork Club and to attend first nights at the theatre. Fees, kickbacks, awards and other moneys poured into his coffers in a veritable flood. During his twenty-five years of power at the AMA, he never lost an opportunity to advertise and enrich himself. Despite the fact that he had never practiced medicine a day in his life, he persuaded King Features Syndicate to sign him on as daily columnist writing a "medical" commentary which appeared in over two hundred newspapers. A full page ad appeared in Editor and Publisher to celebrate his new venture on March 23, 1940, stating "An authority of medicine, Dr. Fishbein's name is synonymous with the sterling' stamp on a piece of silver." Whether this was an oblique reference to Judas is not clear.
Fishbein garnered additional income by having himself named medical adviser to Look Magazine, the second largest publication in the United States. In 1935, he had ventured into what was probably his greatest financial coup, the annual publication of a massive volume, "the Modern Home Medical Adviser." The book was written for him by doctors on consignment, but he wrote the lurid advertising copy, "Endorsed by doctors everywhere. The Wealthiest Millionaire Could Not Buy Better Health Guidance." Obviously, no doctor anywhere dared to criticize the book.
Fishbein's steadily aggrandizing powers at the AMA were veiled by the fact that he never had any title there except "editor." He maintained absolute control over all the publications of the AMA, and thus gained his total power over the organization. No one who disagreed with him had any opportunity to voice any discontent. He also maintained absolute control over the selection of the personnel of the various committees of the AMA, so that no one was ever in a position to attack him. The Committee on Food and the Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry were his particular preserves, because of the great power they had over manufacturers and advertisers. The Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry had been set up in 1905, at the same time that the Food and Drug Act had been passed by congress; the two groups always worked together very closely. As advertising revenues increased each year, Fishbein steadfastly denied that any profits were being made by the AMA. He was quoted in Review of Reviews, 1926, "Far from being the corporation not for profit' which the statutes list it, the American Medical Association has been exceedingly profitable to the public, both in dollars and in lives." Thus Fishbein adeptly turned aside growing criticism of the income of the AMA by his claim that it was profitable to the public at large.
Under Fishbein's editorship, the AMA health magazine, Hygiea, carried the banner headline, "PURE FOODS, HONESTLY ADVERTISED." "The Seal of Acceptance of the Committee on Foods of the AMA is your best guarantee that the claims of quality for any product are correct and that the advertising for it is truthful. Look for this Seal on every food that you buy. White Star Tuna and Chicken of the Sea brand Tuna have this acceptance." At the very time that Fishbein was running these advertisements, the Food and Drug Administration was repeatedly seizing shipments of these very brands of tuna, condemning them because "they consisted in whole or in part of decomposed animal substance." So much for the Seal of Acceptance.
The AMA Committee on Foods always verged on the brink of exposure or serious damage suits, because it had virtually no testing apparatus. The June 24, 1931 issue of Business Week raised serious questions about these operations, particularly the power of the AMA to censor manufacturers' ad copy. Business Week asked "whether a national body of professional men conducted presumably on the highest ethical plane, is not continually exceeding the natural boundaries of its actions when it attempts to assume police and regulatory powers over the nation's largest industry." The editors of Business Week were well aware that the staff at AMA did little testing and were not qualified to render judgments on the "acceptance" of products. The magazine story may have been intended as a quiet warning to the AMA to cease and desist its activities in this field. They reckoned without Fishbein's chutzpah. The AMA Committee on Foods, under Fishbein's guidance, continued its operations for another decade. In 1939, Fishbein awarded the Seal of Acceptance to some 2,706 individual products, which were produced by some 1,653 companies. Its chief rival in this field, the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, had also come under increasing fire for its aggressive tactics in seeking more customers for its Seal. In May 1941, the Federal Trade Commission issued "cease and desist" orders against the Good Housekeeping Seal; Fishbein saw the handwriting on the wall, and shortly afterwards, he discontinued the AMA Seal of Acceptance awards for general purpose foods.
The Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry was quite another matter. This was the key to the big money. A drug company could make one hundred million dollars on a new product, if it were to be released under the proper auspices; the most vital, of course, was the AMA Seal of Acceptance. The opportunities for large scale bribery, conspiracy and corruption were too prevalent to be ignored. One physician who was very conscious of this was Dr. Emanuel Josephson of New York. Heir to a large fortune, Dr. Josephson resided in a multimillion dollar townhouse in the city's most expensive area, just around the corner from Nelson Rockefeller on the fashionable Upper East Side. Josephson was unable to conceal his contempt for Fishbein and his money-grubbing activities. On January 2, 1932, he officially resigned from the AMA's New York City Medical Society; the AMA chose to ignore his letter of resignation until 1938, when Fishbein released a letter claiming that the AMA "had severed connections with him." In 1939, Dr. Josephson submitted the important record of his ground breaking research to Science Magazine, "Vitamin E Therapy of Myasthenia Gravis," which they refused to print. Dr. Josephson later pointed out that the AMA had deliberately concealed the benefits of Vitamin E therapy for more than twenty-five years. This was only one instance of hundreds in which the AMA withheld life-saving information from the public. The benefits of Vitamin E therapy are now generally recognized by the medical profession.
The AMA technique for controlling all new products was revealed by a United Press dispatch January 20, 1940, that the AMA had a well-defined newspaper policy "never to call anything a cure, or in fact give publicity to any remedy of any description, without a thorough investigation." The organization usually recommended that any report of a remedy should be referred to the New York branch of the AMA for investigation. As Dr. Josephson testified, he had tried for years to get the New York chapter of the AMA to investigate his findings, but they always refused.
The AMA Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry had effectively solidified its control by amending the official AMA Code of Ethics to prohibit individual physicians from giving any testimonials in favor of any drug; this amendment protected the valuable monopoly of AMA headquarters in Chicago. A distinguished scientist and teacher, Dr. Frank G. Lydston, published a booklet, "Why the AMA is Going Backward," in which he stated, "The achievement of what the oligarchy of the AMA has boasted most vociferously has been its belated war on proprietaries, quack medical manufacturers and unproved products. When I recall the nauseous array of proprietary fakes on the advertisements on which the oligarchy built its financial prosperity, its holier than thou' pose is sickening. It was fitting to its psychic constitution that after the AMA has for years done its level best to promulgate the interests, and to fatten upon, fake manufacturers and professional poisoners of the innocent, it should bite the hand that fed it. Despotic powers such as the oligarchy wields over the food and drug manufacturers is dangerous, and human nature being what it is, that power might be expected to sooner or later to be abused."
Dr. Josephson also observed that "The history of the AMA's Seal of Acceptance is replete with betrayals of professional and public trust. Drug products of the highest value have been rejected or their acceptance unwarrantedly delayed. Worthless, dangerous or deadly food and drugs have been hastily accepted."
On April 20, 1936, Time magazine reported that the American Medical Association was then worth $3,800,000, of which two million was in government bonds, one million in cash, with an $800,000 headquarters building in Chicago. Time also mentioned another little known aspect of the AMA medical monopoly, "Shoes designed to correct foot trouble must be approved by AMA before a conscientious physician may prescribe them." Just how the AMA had set up this shoe monopoly was not clear.
On July 7, 1961, Time reported that the AMA Journal now had a circulation of 180,000, with income of 16 million dollars a year, "the bulk from ads in its publications mainly by drug and appliance makers." The AMA Constitution states that it was organized "to promote the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health." Yet the history of the AMA was replete with events which contradicted this goal. Literary Digest reported on June 11, 1927, the AMA had adopted a resolution that alcohol had no scientific place in medicine. In all fairness, it should be reported that the 1917 resolution had probably been passed at the behest of the Rockefeller interests, which, for their own hidden purposes, were strongly supporting passage of prohibition at that time.
On February 9, 1977, the Federal Trade Commission issued an order against the AMA because it had barred certain drug advertisements. Throughout the 25-year reign of Morris Fishbein at the AMA, the organization repeatedly made bewildering about face recommendations on certain products, the reason for such reversals being known only by Fishbein himself. The situation also offered impressive profits to be made by investing in the stock of a certain drug firm just before it received the coveted AMA Seal of Acceptance for a new product. After such an announcement, it was not unusual for the stock of the drug firm to double in price. Only Dr. Fishbein knew when such an approval would be released.
One of the more reprehensible decisions made by Dr. Fishbein during his long reign at the AMA was his move to hush up a dangerous outbreak of amoebic dysentery in Chicago at the height of the World's Fair observance in 1933. Although the cause of the outbreak was traced to faulty plumbing at the Congress Hotel, Fishbein met with a group of Chicago business leaders and pledged the cooperation of the AMA in holding back any warnings until the Fair had ended its season. Hundreds of unsuspecting tourists who visited the World's Fair returned to their home towns infected with the terrible illness, which often lingers for years, and is very difficult to treat or to cure.
The list of dangerous drugs approved by Fishbein during his tenure as public spokesman for the AMA is lengthy and terrifying. Fishbein hastened to approve the notorious diet drug, dinetrophenol, despite laboratory records that it was dangerous to health. Another drug, tryparsamide, manufactured by Merck under license from the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, was a dangerous arsenical drug. Used to counter the effects of syphilis, it was abandoned by its discoverer, Paul Ehrlich, when he found that it caused blindness by atrophying the optic nerve. Ehrlich's warnings did not prevent the AMA, Merck or the Rockefeller Institute from continuing to distribute this drug.
In the issue of June 21, 1937, Morris Fishbein had a cover portrait on Time magazine. It was an unusually unflattering photograph, in which Fishbein looked as though he needed a doctor. Time had published a story earlier that year that Fishbein was suffering from Bell's Palsy. The right side of his face hung slack, and he was obviously in very poor condition.
One of Fishbein's most dangerous errors was his approval of sulfathiazole in 1941. On January 25, 1941, Fishbein announced that Winthop Drug Company's sulfathiazole "has been accepted by the Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry for inclusion in its official volume of new and non-official remedies." Winthrop was a subsidiary of the international drug cartel, I. G. Farben. Sulfathiazole was also approved by Dr. J.J. Durrett, the FDA official in charge of new drugs. Durrett was a Rockefeller-approved appointee to this vital position. By December 1940, 400,000 tablets had been sold, which contained as much as 5 grains each of Luminal. The safe dosage was 1 grain of Luminal. Many persons who took the Winthrop dosage never woke up.
In 1937, the AMA approved an extremely poisonous preparation of sulfanilamide in a solution of diethylene glucol; this mixture caused a number of fatalities. It caused white blood cell loss, even though it was advertised that it would "help" heart disease. Long after Fishbein's departure, the AMA continued to endorse potentially dangerous products. The Winter issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association featured advertisements for Suprol in 200 mg capsules (suprofen), an analgesic which had been approved by the FDA in December of 1985. It was produced by McNeil, a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson. By February 13, 1986, the firm had received the first reports of acute kidney damage, yet on December 2nd the FDA Arthritis Advisory Board recommended that Suprol remain on sale as an "alternative analgesic." It had already been banned in Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Italy and Great Britain; McNeil suspended its production here on May 15.
One of the more reprehensible episodes in Fishbein's long career was his denial of the Seal of Acceptance of the AMA to sulfanilamide, although it had been saving lives in Europe for several years. Because its producers had failed to negotiate a satisfactory deal with Fishbein, numerous persons in the United States continued to die of septicemia, or blood poisoning. The dam finally broke when a member of the Roosevelt family, in dire need of immediate treatment with sulfanilimide, had his physician obtain a special supply. Shortly thereafter the AMA Council was forced to "accept" it. In 1935 and 1936, the Council accepted and advertised in the Journal a heart stimulant, Digitol, at the very time that government agencies were seizing and condemning interstate shipments of this drug as a substance dangerous to life. Another product, Ergot Aseptic, was accepted by the Council, and advertisements for this product prominently featured in the Journal, at the same time that government agencies were seizing and condemning its shipments because of adulterants and misbranding.
Under the leadership of the nation's two most notorious quacks, Simmons and Fishbein, a gigantic nationwide drug operation was perfected which today poses a serious threat to the health of every American citizen. The fixed prices of these drugs has been a contributing factor to the meteoric rise in the cost of health care. In 1976, the national bill was 95 billion dollars, which was 8.4% of the Gross National Product, a figure which had risen from 4.5% in 1962. From 1955-1975, the price index rose 74%, while the cost of medical care rose 300%. Dr. Robert S. Mendelsohn, an independent health practitioner, estimates that 30% of X-rays taken in the United States, some 300 million a year, are ordered when there is no valid medical need. A federal expert reports that if we would reduce the unnecessary X-rays by one-third, we could save the lives of one thousand cancer patients each year. Yet the responsible organization, the American Cancer Society, has consistently ignored this problem. The genetic effect of X-rays on the population in a single year has been predicted to cause as many as thirty thousand deaths per year in future years. In 1976, doctors wrote one billion doses for sleeping pills, some twenty-seven million prescriptions which resulted in twenty-five thousand trips to emergency rooms for adverse drug reactions, and some fifteen hundred emergency room deaths from tranquilizers. Ninety per cent of these victims are women. By 1978, five billion tranquilizer pills were being prescribed; the most notorious of these, Vallium, produces five hundred million dollars per year income for Hoffman LaRoche Co.; it is the epitome of the mythical "soma" described by Aldous Huxley in his "Brave New World," "the perfect drug, narcotic, pleasantly hallucinant."
An English study showed that aspirin caused fetal defects, deaths, birth defects, and bleeding in newborn babies. Recently, a nationwide campaign was launched proclaiming that new studies "showed" that an aspirin a day would prevent heart attack in men. An appended afterthought suggested that it might be wise to check with a personal physician before embarking on this regimen, but how many thousands of men will at once begin to take a daily aspirin, hoping to postpone a dreaded heart attack, and unaware that they may be suffering from another result of the ingestion of aspirin, internal bleeding? It is this property of thinning the blood which caused it to be recommended as a preventive for heart attack. Aspirin is also of doubtful value when taken to reduce fever; by reducing fever in some instances, notably during the onset of pneumonia, it disguises the symptoms of pneumonia so that the physician is unable to make this diagnosis. It usually takes twenty minutes to dissolve in the stomach, and then only if it is taken with a full glass, eight ounces, of water. Few people know that if aspirin is taken with orange juice, its efficacy is greatly diminished, because it may not dissolve.
In September of 1980, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it would remove from the market more than three thousand drugs whose effectiveness had not been proven. During the previous year, Americans had spent more than one billion dollars on these same "unproven" drugs, many of which had been "accepted" by the AMA. In 1962, Congress had passed amendments to the Food and Drug Act which implemented drug effectiveness requirements by 1964. The drug manufacturers resisted all attempts to force them to comply with these amendments, forcing the FDA to remove them from the market some sixteen years later. The average life of an effective drug is about fifteen years; this meant that the delaying tactics of the drug manufacturers had allowed them to milk these unproven drugs for their entire effective market life !
We now come to the most amazing record of criminal syndicalism in our history. After Congress had passed stringent requirements in 1962 to force the drug manufacturers to prove that their drugs were effective (a requirement which in many cases was impossible to observe, since they were worthless), the drug manufacturers were advised by their cohorts in the AMA and the advertising industry that it would be wise to start a brushfire, a diversionary tactic which would draw attention from the fact that they had failed to comply with the new Congressional requirements. This diversionary tactic was to be called "the War Against Quackery." A few months after the new regulations went into effect, the AMA Board of Trustees met to create a new committee, the Committee on Quackery, which was formally incorporated on November 2, 1963. It was originally intended to destroy the entire profession of chiropractic in the United States, the nation's second largest health care group. It soon branched out in search of further victims, as the "Coordinating Conference on Health Information." This subsidiary was the brainchild of a New York letterhead outfit called the Pharmaceutical Advertising Council, which in turn was merely a space on the desk of the President of Grey Medical Advertising Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of the prestigious Grey Advertising Company in New York.
Although it was ostensibly merely an advisory group, the Coordinating Conference on Health Information soon launched an all-out war on independent health practitioners all over the United States. Its victims were usually selected by the nonprofit AMA, aided by the charitable foundations, the American Cancer Society and the Arthritis Foundation, both of which had been smarting under accusations that they were killing patients while independent health advisors were saving them. The criminal syndicalists were able to enlist the full police powers of the federal government, through contacts in the Federal Trade Commission, the Post Office Department, the Food and Drug Administration, and the United States Public Health Service. These federal agents were solicited by the charitable foundations to initiate police actions against hundreds of unsuspecting health practitioners throughout the United States. It was one of the most massive, well planned and ruthless operations in which the federal agents ever engaged. In many cases, people were arrested for selling or sometimes giving away booklets which advised such innocuous health practices as taking vitamins ! These distributors now found themselves under restraining orders from the Post Office, the Department of Justice, and the Food and Drug Administration. Others, who were distributing various salves, nostrums and other preparations, most of them based on herbal formulae, received heavy fines and prison sentences. In every case, all of the stocks of these practitioners, many of whom were elderly and impoverished, were seized and destroyed as "dangerous substances." It was never alleged that a single person had ever been injured, much less killed, by any of these preparations. At the same time, the drug manufacturers were continuing to sell drugs which produced extensive side effects such as kidney damage, liver damage and death. Not one of them was ever enjoined from distributing these products on the terms used against the independent health practitioners. In most cases, when these dangerous drugs were banned in the United States, the manufacturers shipped them overseas to countries in Latin America and Asia, where they continue to be sold to this day. The stock of Syntex Corporation rose from a few dollars to a high of $400 a share when it started dumping steroids in foreign markets.
Many of the attacks were focused against the distributors of an anti-cancer preparation called laetrile, a fruit product. Extremely sensitive to any rival of their very profitable chemotherapy drugs, the cancer profiteers ordered the federal agents to carry out terror raids against their competitors. Often striking at night, in groups of heavily armed SWAT teams, the federal agents broke down doors to capture elderly women and their stocks of herbal teas. Many of these housewives and retired persons carried small amounts of vitamins and health preparations which they furnished to neighbors or friends at cost. They had no funds to fight the massed agencies of the federal government, who themselves were merely patsies for the Drug Trust. In many cases, the victims lost their homes, their life savings and all other attachable assets, because they had posed a threat to the Medical Monopoly. It was the most blatant use of the police powers by the Big Rich to protect their profitable enterprises. To this day, most of these victims have no idea that they were knocked off by the Rockefeller Monopoly.
Sidney W. Bishop, deputy postmaster general, boasted at the Second National Congress on Medical Quackery in 1963, "I am particularly proud of the excellent arrangements existing between the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Trade Commission and the Post Office department to maintain coordination in the exchange of information leading to the establishment of criminal prosecution," a laudatory reference to the success of the "war against quackery." It was later revealed that the Coordinating Conference on Health Information had been entirely financed by the leading drug companies of the Medical Monopoly, Lederle, Hoffman LaRoche and others. From 1964 to 1974, their search and destroy campaign was carried on as a total war by federal agents against anyone who had ever offered any type of health food or health advice. The goal of course, was the elimination of all competition to the major drug companies.
In 1967, the AMA received 43% of its total income, $13.6 million, from its drug advertisements. It then issued a letter of agreement jointly with the Food and Drug Administration publicizing a campaign to "enhance public awareness of health fraud devices and products by identifying them as ineffective and potential health hazards." These were the same persons who had been unable to persuade the drug companies to comply with federal requirements that they prove the effectiveness of their drug products! The hazards, as we have stated, lay more with the Drug Trust than from the elderly ladies in California who were advising people to eat more garlic and lettuce if they wished to stay healthy. The death tolls were from "approved" drugs, not from the preparations distributed by the holistic health advocates. The AMA then sponsored a National Health Fraud Conference, whose principle spokesman was Congressman Claude Pepper. This was an ironic turn of events, because a few years earlier, the then Senator Claude Pepper, one of the most powerful political figures in Washington, had aroused the ire of the AMA because he planned to support socialized medicine in the United States. A longtime spokesman for leftwing interests, who was known as "Red" Pepper because of his political sympathies, Pepper had found himself attacked by the big guns and money of the AMA. They found a candidate to oppose him in Nixon's friend, George Smathers, and Pepper was defeated in Florida. Coming back as a Congressman, Pepper now licked the boots of those who had ousted him. He endorsed their police state methods against anyone who dared to challenge the power of the Medical Monopoly.
Having proved his loyalty to the Rockefeller power, Pepper was allowed to stage another health conference in 1984. It was denounced by informed observers as a typical "Moscow show trial." The new Pepper sideshow was called the Congressional Hearings on Quackery. Pepper claimed that "health fraud" was a ten billion dollar a year scandal, an impressive figure for what was essentially a small cottage industry. He summoned a longtime apologist for the Medical Monopoly, Dr. Victor Herbert, a physician at the Bronx Veterans Administration Hospital. Herbert demanded that the Justice Department use the RICO (Racketeer Inspired Criminal Organization) strike force against "medical charlatans" and "health frauds" by using the same techniques which had been employed against organized crime. RICO allows the government to confiscate all assets of those who are convicted "as a result of a proved conspiracy." In December of 1987, this same Dr. Victor Herbert surfaced again, filing a 70 page complaint in the U.S. District Court in Iowa. He charged that the officials of the National Health Federation, a rival to the AMA, and other alternative health care practitioners had libelled him. Kirkpatrick Dilling, the attorney for the defendants, termed the suit a flagrant attempt to destroy freedom of choice in health care in the United States. Dilling pointed out that Herbert was backed by a shadow group called the American Council for Science and Health, a front for major food manufacturing companies.
Dr. Herbert was joined at the Pepper Hearings by a longtime agent of the Medical Monopoly, Mrs. Anna Rosenberg. She voiced her outrage that there should still be any competition in the United States for the Drug Trust. A longtime vassal of the Rockefeller family, she had served as director of the American Cancer Society during its valiant struggle to restrict all treatment to the orthodox and highly profitable "cut, slash and burn" techniques, which, unfortunately for the patients, usually proved to be fatal. Anna Rosenberg had been married to Julius Rosenberg. She earned five thousand dollars a week as "labor relations specialist" to keep unions out of Rockefeller Center and to keep its underpaid minions on the job.
The Coordinating Conference on Health Information ran amuck for some ten years, sending hundreds of victims to prison on what were in most instances flimsy or trumped up charges. The desired effect, to terrorize everyone who had become active in the alternative health care field, was achieved. Most health practitioners went underground, or closed up their businesses; others left the country. An inevitable reaction against these terrorists operations set in; by 1974, there were public demands for a Congressional investigation of the SWAT tactics used by the Post Office and the U.S. Public Health Service against elderly housewives. Such an investigation would inevitably have revealed that these conscientious and dedicated public servants were actually faceless tools of the sinister behind the scenes figures who manipulated the government of the United States for their own power and profit. Needless to say, no such Congressional investigation was ever held. Instead, the CCHI suddenly went underground. They were immune from countersuits by their victims, because all actions had been taken against the victims by federal agents. They were not immune, according to the statutes, but the chances of recovering against them in any federal court was remote. (The present writer has on numerous occasions sought redress against federal agents in federal courts, only to have a polite federal judge rule against him in every instance.)
After the Coordinating Conference on Health Information went underground, health practitioners in the State of California suddenly found themselves under more concerted attack than ever before. The activist now was the California State Board of Health. It was then found that the stealthy minions of CCHI, still doing the work of the Medical Monopoly, had merely abandoned their national operations for fear of exposure, but had now nested in the California State Board of Health like a group of diseased rats hiding from inevitable retribution. The CCHI has remained imbedded in the California State Board of Health ever since, carrying on a steady warfare against health practitioners in that state. The drug cartel continued to operate unmolested.
This war against American citizens fulfills every requirement for prosecution under the statutes forbidding criminal syndicalism in the United States. It is a classic case of a supposedly nonprofit organization, the American Medical Association, conspiring with certain charitable foundations, notably the American Cancer Society and the Arthritis Foundation, to enlist public agencies to start a war to benefit the national Drug Trust, while denying American citizens the benefits of reasonably priced and effective health care. Not only were there repeated violations of the constitutional rights of citizens who were active in the health care movement, often from a sense of public service rather than from a desire for profit, while the evidence of an active conspiracy (RICO) to subvert official government agencies for the profit of private multinational drug firms is too abundant to ignore. Those who have been victimized by the CCHI conspiracy can also bring actions against Lederle, Hoffman laRoche and the other drug firms who hired these people to do their dirty work. The trail of liability is plain; it will be simple to establish it in court.
Meanwhile, the effect of the CCHI depredations has been devastating. Millions of Americans, particularly the elderly and the poor, have been forcibly deprived of reasonably priced health care because of this conspiracy. These victims have been forced to do without their modestly priced health advisors, and thrown onto the care of the high-priced physicians from the AMA, who place them on expensive drugs produced by the Rockefeller drug monopoly. The fact that many of these drugs are overpriced, ineffective, and potentially dangerous has been routinely covered up by the federal agencies responsible for protecting the public, particularly the Food and Drug Administration. It is notable that the drug cartels have never been investigated by any government agency under the pertinent provisions of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, because these cartels are the property of the international financial monopolists. This proves what many observers have charged for years, that the government regulations purportedly enacted by Congress to protect the public have, in reality, served only to protect the monopolists. By 1986, this Medical Monopoly had reached a yearly take of $355.4 billion a year, eleven per cent of the Gross National Product of the United States. The Medical Monopoly has long had its critics among conscientious members of the medical profession. In December 1922, the Illinois Medical Journal featured an article which declared that "The American Medical Association has become an autocracy." This was during the heyday of Dr. Simmons' rule in Chicago. The article denounced the dictatorial assumption of power over the entire medical profession. Although it had first organized in 1847, the AMA had not formally incorporated until 1897, when it paid a three dollar fee to the Secretary of the State of Illinois. Within two years after its incorporation, "Doc" Simmons had arrived on the scene to begin his twenty-five year power grab. He soon realized that the medical schools control the hospitals; the medical examination boards control the medical schools, and so he expanded the power of the AMA until he had total control over the medical examination boards.
The records show that coincidentally with the growing power of the AMA, there came a corresponding decline in the quality of medical care and the personal responsibility of the physicians to their patients. The AMA enacted a stem Code of Ethics, which serve to form a phalanx of protection for any physician who faced criticism for his errors, such errors, in many cases, resulted in the crippling or deaths of his patients. This same "code" usually prevents any physician, nurse or other hospital employee from testifying in court about the errors committed by a physician.
One noted physician, Dr. Norman Barnesby, who had long been a prominent member of the U.S. Army Medical Staff and the U.S. Public Health Service, said, "Chaos and crime is inevitable so long as doctors abide by the AMA's code of ethics, the code of silence. (This is akin to the notorious Omerta, the code of silence of the Mafia, which invokes the death penalty to any member who reveals the secrets of the Cosa Nostra. The Medical Gnostics, the AMA, has set up its own Cosa Nostra, which passes a sentence of professional death against any physician who reveals any medical omissions or crimes, the result being ostracism from the profession, denial of hospital privileges, and other drastic forms of punishment. Editor's Note.) The ethics to which doctors subscribe smells to high heavens. It is a disgrace to any vaunting civilization. A peculiar reserve must be maintained by physicians toward the public in regard to professional questions and as there exist many points in medical ethics and etiquette through which the feelings of physicians may be painfully assaulted in their intercourse, and which cannot be understood or appreciated by general society, neither the subject matter of their differences nor the adjudication of their arbitration should be made public."
The last part of this paragraph is Dr. Barnesby's direct quote from the AMA Code of Ethics. Note the arrogance of the AMA in claiming that "medical ethics and etiquette" cannot be understood by general society. Dr. Barnesby continues, "I am convinced that the remedy lies in a full abolition of all codes and practices inimical to society, and a complete reorganization of the system on the lines of legal supervision or other responsible control." Dr. Barnesby's recommendations were ignored by the Medical Monopoly.
An AP dispatch of February 11, 1988 noted that "5% of Doctors Lie About Credentials" a headline of facts discovered by a large health care corporation, Humana, Inc., found that 39 of 727 doctors who applied to work in their clinics during a six-month period, that is 5%, presented false credentials. Even worse, many doctors, convicted of drug or sex charges in one state, simply move to another state and set up practice, protected by the Medical Monopoly. There have been horrendous stories in recent years about habitual sex offenders, convicted in one state, who go to another state and through their professional practice, began their career of violating children once more.
A gifted physician, Dr. Ernest Codman, of a distinguished New England family, addressed the annual AMA convention on March 2, 1924 as follows:
"I have notes on four hundred registered cases of supposed bone sarcoma. All of these four hundred registered cases, with few exceptions, are records of error and failure; I have many of the foremost surgeons and pathologists in the country convicted in their own handwriting of gross errors in these cases. Legs have been amputated when they should not have been, and left on when they should have been amputated."
Dr. Codman's speech left his audience dumbfounded. None of them challenged his statements, but his speech was deliberately hushed up by AMA officials. He wryly records that never again during his distinguished professional career was he asked to address any AMA meeting.
From time to time, other dissidents have appeared at AMA meetings, to engage in a brief skirmish as they voiced their objections, and then disappear, forgotten in the all consuming war to maintain the Medical Monopoly. Time magazine gave a brief summary of one such episode on June 6, 1970, with the headline, "Schizophrenic AMA." The story noted that some thirty to forty dissidents, young idealistic doctors, had rushed the podium and taken over the AMA annual meeting for a few anxious moments. Their leader denounced the AMA from the lectern in vigorous terms, "The A.M.A. does not stand for the American Medical Association -- it stands for the American Murder Association !" Armed guards turned back members of other groups which sought to voice their dissatisfaction. The young intern vacated the platform, and presumably is chief of surgery at some hospital today, having learned that you can't fight the system.
Another dissident, Dr. Robert S. Mendelsohn, noted that in 1975, 787,000 women had hysterectomies, and that 1,700 of them died as a result of this surgery. He believes that half of these women could have been saved, as their surgery was needless. The Washington Post noted on January 21, 1988 that "Most heart pacemakers may be unneeded; more than half are not clearly beneficial." The story noted that one American in 500 now has a pacemaker. This business is only twenty years old, but there are now 120,000 implants each year, a business taking in one and a half billion dollars a year. Greenspan complained that "many internists are ordering them without consulting a heart specialist."
Dr. Mendelsohn has also complained that terramycin was an ineffective antibiotic, its major result being that it left children with yellow-greenish teeth and tetracycline deposits in their bones. He quotes the Boston Collaborative Drug Surveillance Program, which found that the risk of being killed by drug therapy in an American hospital was one in a thousand, and that 30,000 Americans died each year from adverse reactions to drugs prescribed for them by their doctors. Mendelsohn minces no words in his opinion of modern medicine. He calls it the Church of Death, whose Four Holy Waters are
2) fluoridated water;
3) intravenous fluids;
and 4) silver nitrate.
Mendelsohn dismisses all four as being "of questionable safety."
By the early 1940s, ranking members of the AMA had come to the conclusion that much of their problems with their membership lay with the abrasive Morris Fishbein. Most doctors were ultraconservative in their thinking, and they found Fishbein's antics repulsive. Nevertheless, he had spun his web at the AMA so fine that it involved everyone in the headquarters. His power was built on censorship, intimidation, and exercise of his powers to the limit. It took his rivals almost a decade to get rid of him. Their opportunity came when Fishbein's able lieutenant, Dr. Olin West, became ill, and was no longer able to maintain iron control of the AMA headquarters for the Fishbein regime. Apparently ignorant of the cabal against him, Fishbein continued his merry life of travel and recreation, continuing to garner many awards and prizes for his medical public relations work. He had been named an Officer of the Cross in the exclusive order of OrangeNassau, a very secretive organization which commemorated the invasion and takeover of England by William of Orange, and the subsequent establishment of the Bank of England. Fishbein made frequent trips to England, where he was wined and dined by prominent members of the Establishment; they must have believed he could be of use to them.
However, none of these honors proved to be of avail when the man who was described by Newsweek as "the man with one hundred enemies" (surely the understatement of the year), was thrown out even more unceremoniously than his predecessor, the unsavory quack, "Doc" Simmons. Despite repeated public criticisms of his junkets and abuse of his expense accounts, Fishbein confidently announced at a luncheon on June 4, 1949 that he would be around for at least five more years. He counted heavily on the traditional schism between two groups at the AMA, the liberals and the conservatives, whom Fishbein declared would never be able to agree on anything. He was wrong, because they did agree that he should be kicked out. United by their common hatred of Morris Fishbein, they formed their conspiracy to assassinate their Caesar. In describing this episode, Martin Mayer notes that since 1944, a sizeable faction at the AMA had been resolved to get Fishbein out at any cost. He had been exposed on a national radio program, Town Meeting of the Air, in early 1949, as a habitual liar. He claimed that he had been touring England, visiting the offices of general practitioners every day. The radio program revealed that he had actually been attending the Olympics, that he had dined with several members of the British aristocracy and attended a number of plays in London, and then had travelled to Paris for a round of the night clubs, all in the name of promoting medicine. The program, aired on February 22, 1949 by Nelson Cruikshank, demolished Fishbein's reputation, noting that Fishbein had not gone near any doctor's office in England during his stay. As for Fishbein's report about his trip, Cruikshank branded it a lie, calling it "a libel on a profession which is proud of its tradition of service to its patients. Fishbein's life was described as "a constant round of visits to New York plays, the Stork Club, and night clubs in London and Paris."
As a result of this publicity, the AMA at its 1949 convention passed a unanimous resolution that Dr. Morris Fishbein be removed from all posts in which he did any writing and speaking. This resolution provided that it be implemented "as soon as possible," which turned out to be that very afternoon. By evening, Fishbein was gone from AMA headquarters, never to return. One of the literary losses of Fishbein's departure was his column, which he had fancifully termed "Dr. Pepys Diary." It was described by one critic as "a running or logorrhic account of Moms Fishbein's private life. Each Christmas, the Diary was enshrined between boards and distributed as the Fishbein Christmas Card to nearly everyone who had a permanent mailing address." Like all of Fishbein's extravagances, the expense of this largesse was entirely home by the dues-paying members of the AMA.
For years, Fishbein had used the awesome power of the AMA Seal of Acceptance to force drug companies to accede to his wishes. Harper's Magazine noted (Nov. 1949) that "The Seal is probably the biggest single puller' of advertising ever concocted. The Journal is far and away the most profitable publication in the world. Fishbein's absolute power -- he often talked as if he carried the seal in his pocket -- was also the source of other men's power."
After Fishbein's forced departure, AMA officials moved to dilute the center of power at the Chicago Headquarters. The Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry changed its name to the Council on Drugs in 1956; the Seal of Acceptance was dropped entirely. Ben Gaffin and Associates had reported to the AMA, "The advertisers, in general, feel that the AMA, especially through the Councils, distrusts them and views them as potential crooks who would become actively unethical if not constantly watched." This had been Fishbein's paranoid approach, but his attitude had been based on the need to maintain control and to force "contributions" from the ethical drug manufacturers." As soon as the Seal of Acceptance was dropped, AMA's revenues from advertisers doubled in five years; in ten years, it had tripled, from $4 million a year to over $12 million. In retrospect, Fishbein's arrogance and his shortsighted policies had been costing the AMA millions of dollars a year in lost revenues. Dr. Ernest Howard of the AMA offered gratuitous reasons for dropping the Seal, saying "it was too arbitrary, and too much authority was vested in one body ... there were also certain legal problems."
Despite the fact that Fishbein had gone, some aspects of his malign influence lingered at the AMA headquarters for years; costing the organization many million of dollars and a great deal of unfavorable publicity. Especially virulent was Fishbein's burning determination to destroy any possibility of "socialized medicine" in the United States. It was paradoxical that the AMA leadership under Fishbein's dominance should be so vehemently against "government intervention" in the medical field, when they had used government agencies for years for their own purposes, particularly the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Public Health Service, and the National Cancer Institute. One authority, James G. Burrow, traces the AMA's stance towards compulsory health insurance, which changed from exploratory interest to violent hostility between 1917 and 1920. This stance was justified as "anti-Communism," it being well known that Socialized Medicine had long been a primary goal of the Communist Party. A select group of prominent American leftists had been summoned to Moscow for special indoctrination in this goal. They attended a summer course at Moscow University on "the organization of medicine as a state function." The group included such stalwart liberals as George S. Counts and John Dewey. On their return, they began a campaign of public agitation for national health care. Their first convert was a "liberal Republican," Senator Henry Cabot Lodge. In fact, he represented the New England group of bankers who were allied with Rockefeller in maintaining the Medical Monopoly. On March 1, 1940, Senator Lodge introduced a bill for health insurance, which provided forty dollars a year for health care. The bill was quickly shelved, but the gauntlet had been thrown down. Fishbein had no intention of turning his fiefdom over to any government department. Over the next several decades, the AMA spent many millions of dollars fighting "socialized medicine," all of it raised by special levies on American doctors. It also became enmeshed in several expensive antitrust cases as a result of its activities.
As early as 1938, the AMA had been indicted by the Department of Justice in the Group Health Association case. In 1937, a group of government employees had borrowed $40 from Home Owners Loan Company to start a group hospital. The plan offered group medical care for $26 a year for an individual, or $39 a year for a family. This association, which took the name Group Health Association, hired nine physicians. The District of Columbia Medical Society then refused these physicians permission to use the hospitals or to consult specialists. On April 4, 1941, a jury found the AMA and the District Medical Society guilty of anti-trust law violations. The two organizations and eleven physicians had been indicted for restraint of trade. Those convicted included Dr. Morris Fishbein. Two and a half years later, the Supreme Court upheld their conviction in 1943. A fine of $2,500 was levied, and the AMA was ordered to cease and desist in its interference with the Group Health Association.
The AMA fared little better in its twenty year battle against Medicare. The preservation of the integrity of the local physician was a worthwhile goal; however, he was already under the control of the Rockefeller Medical Monopoly; it is difficult to see how the establishment of socialized medicine in the United States would change anything, nor has it. Time noted on December 10, 1948 that the AMA had assessed each of its members $25 for a campaign to spend $3½ million on "medical education," a campaign to turn people against socialized medicine. It was the first such assessment of the AMA in its hundred years of operation. Almost two decades later, the Saturday Evening Post noted in its issue of January 1, 1966 that the AMA had spent five million dollars in 1964 and 1965 battling the medicare lobby in Washington. It was noted that the AMA had $23 million income that year from its annual dues of $45 per year, and from the sales of advertisements in AMA publications to drug companies and medical supply houses.
Time on Dec. 1, 1978 noted that Judge Fred Barnes, administrative law judge at the Federal Trade Commission, had ruled that the AMA Code of Ethics illegally restrains competition among doctors by preventing them from advertising. He further ruled that AMA ethical guidelines should in the future be approved by the FTC. The AMA issued an indignant press release opposing the decision; "There is no legal precedent in the United States for the federal bureaucracy to write or approve a code of ethics for any of the learned professions."
The subject of the AMA Code of Ethics had already come up several times. Science magazine noted on June 21, 1940 on "the bureau of investigation of frauds and charlatans" that the question was raised, "Should medical ethics be changed ? The principle of medical ethics as set down at present, can be improved in wording and arrangement, but it also believes that the present is not the time to do the rewriting. It seems wise to let the muddied waters settle before any consideration is given to so fundamental nature of our organization as our principles of medical ethics." Although the speaker was not identified, this pious pronunciamento could only have come from Fishbein himself. The speaker goes on to admit, rather coyly, that "the principle of medical ethics can be improved" but that ended the matter.
The passage of Medicare, after the AMA had sent so many millions opposing it, apparently changed nothing. It proved to be an unexpected windfall for many of the more unscrupulous members of the medical profession. They had no problem in padding bills for fees to the tune of millions of dollars per year per practitioner. In 1982, Medicare paid out some $48.3 billion dollars, while Medicaid paid out $38.2 billion dollars. The more conservative estimates believe that some 11 billion dollars of these funds were skimmed in illegal profits. The heirs of Morris Fishbein at the AMA may have lost the battle to "stop socialized medicine" but they have won the war.
As we previously noted, the AMA trustees at a meeting on November 2, 1963, resolved to "eliminate chiropractic" their biggest rival, through a Committee on Quackery. The secretary of this committee reported back to the trustees on January 4, 1971 that "its prime mission, first, the containment of chiropractic, and ultimately, the elimination of chiropractic." A more blatant admission of conspiracy can hardly be found in any organization's records. The Committee's special investigative unit, headed by the general counsel of the AMA, Robert Throckmorton, involved using insurance companies, hospitals, state medical licensing boards, public and private colleges, and lobbyists. Every method of intimidation and censorship was used. Dr. Philip Weinstein, a California neurologist, had given many lectures to chiropractic groups on diagnosing illnesses of the spine; the AMA ordered him to stop all such appearances. He sent a note of apology after cancelling a forthcoming lecture, "Please accept our sincerest apologies for this late cancellation due to circumstances beyond our control. We were unaware that delivering medical lectures (to your organization) was prohibited."
Throckmorton also tried to put chiropractic schools out of business by preventing the government from granting guaranteed student loans or grants from the government for research at chiropractic colleges. He prevented them from getting accreditation; lobbied in every state to prevent the establishment of a government created accreditation body, and was furious when the HEW Office of Education, being an agency of educators rather than physicians, resisted his efforts and in 1974 sanctioned the Council on Chiropractic Education as a national accreditation body for chiropractic schools. The AMA brought pressure on C.W. Post University, a division of Long Island University, to drop a course designed for pre-chiropractic students in 1972.
In the late 1960s, the AMA Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals imposed new requirements on hospitals; the AMA Principles of Medical Ethics barred its members from all forms of exchange with chiropractors. A JCAH letter August 13, 1973 to a hospital administrator declared that "Any arrangement you would make with chiropractors and your hospital would be unacceptable to the Joint Committee. This would be in violation of the Principles of Medical Ethics published by the AMA that is also a requirement of the JCAH." On January 9, 1973 the JCAH wrote to a hospital in Silver City, New Mexico, "This is in answer to your letter of December 18 referring to a bill which may be passed in New Mexico that hospitals must accept chiropractors as members of the medical staff. You are absolutely correct -- the unfortunate results of this most ill-advised legislation mean that the Joint Committee could withdraw and refuse accreditation of the hospital that had chiropractors on its staff."
The AMA then forced the Veterans Administration to refuse payments to veterans for chiropractic services. These tactics had been reported to the AMA as positive results. A confidential memorandum dated September 21, 1967 by the Committee on Quackery boasted to the trustees that "Basically the committee's short range objectives for containing the cult of chiropractic, and any additional recognition it might achieve, revolves around four points: 1) Doing everything within our power to see that chiropractic coverage under Title #18 of the Medicare law is NOT obtained. 2) Doing everything within our power to see that registration, or a listing with the U.S. Office of Education, or the establishment of a Chiropractic Accrediting Agency, is NOT achieved. 3) To encourage continued separation of the two National Chiropractic Associations. 4) Encourage state medical societies to take the initiative in their state legislature with regard to legislation that might effect the practice of chiropractic."
Because of the flagrant activities of the AMA, several chiropractors finally sued, charging conspiracy. The case dragged on for years, and on August 27, 1987, after eleven years of continuous litigation, Federal Judge Susan Getzendammer of the U.S. District Court found the AMA, the American College of Surgeons, and the American College of Radiologists, guilty of conspiring to destroy the profession of chiropractic. During the proceedings, the AMA freely acknowledged that they never had, nor have, any knowledge of the content or quality of the courses taught in chiropractic college. Judge Getzendammer wrote a 101-page opinion, and issued an Order of Permanent Injunction requiring the AMA to cease and desist from "restricting, regulating or impeding or aiding and abetting others from restricting, regulating and impeding the freedom of any AMA member or any institution or hospital to make an individual decision as to whether or not the AMA member, institution or hospital shall professionally associate with chiropractors, chiropractic students or chiropractic institutions."
Thus ended the legacy of malice and obstructionism which Morris Fishbein had left to the AMA. Although he had been formally relieved of all duties at the 98th meeting of the AMA on June 20, 1949, the AMA had been bedeviled by his obsessions for four more decades. Another of his obsessions was his refusal to admit any black physicians as members of the AMA. He was often heard to refer contemptuously to "der schwaRzers," a Yiddish term of contempt for blacks, whenever the subject of admitting blacks came up, as it did repeatedly during his regime. His policy continued at the AMA for two more decades, until 1968, when the AMA was forced to admit blacks. Previously, the blacks had maintained their own organization, the National Medical Association. In hailing the decision, Time referred patronizingly to "the moss-backed AMA."
The fact that Simmons and Fishbein were able to impose their petty concerns on this national organization for half of a century reflects little credit on its members. One of the most telling comments was made by T. Swann Hardy in the Forum, June 1929. In an article with the title "How Scientific Are Our Doctors ?" Hardy wrote, "Medicine, as a profession, is not distinguished for the mentality of its members. The average intelligence is lower than in perhaps any other profession. Organized medicine in America is unalterably opposed to any standard of reorganization which would 1) make the medical monopoly thoroughly scientific; 2) make such therapy generally available to all who need it; 3) menace the incomes of incompetent practitioners."
It is noteworthy that the insignia of the medical profession is two snakes entwined on a staff. However, the University of Rochester, deciding that this was excessive, recently reduced the two snakes to one. The caduceus is the mythological symbol of the Roman god Mercury. He was the patron of messengers, but he also had a somewhat unsavory reputation as the associate of outlaws, merchants and thieves. In the ancient world, merchants were synonymous with the other two categories.