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WARNING: This site deals only with the corporate corruption of science, and makes no inference about the motives or activities of individuals involved.
    There are many reasons why individuals become embroiled in corporate corruption activities - from political zealotry to over-enthusiastic activism; from gullibility to greed.
    Please read the OVERVIEW carefully, and make up your own mind.


Smoking-Gun docs.




Strange Bedfellows project    

— Burson-Marsteller project based on quote "Politics makes strange bedfellows" —  

The "Strange Bedfellows" project was a proposal initiated by Burson-Marsteller for Philip Morris, as a way of attacking the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) using non-tobacco companies, groups and societies, to put the FDA on the back-foot.

At that time, the FDA was promoting the idea that cigarettes were a drug-delivery device, and that they needed to regulate nicotine as a drug.

By enlisting other companies and organisations to mount an attack on the FDA's cautious approval processes for new 'wonder drugs' and medical devices. The FDA was seen by many to be ultra-cautious — and by libertarian groups as to be obstacles to research and development.

The FDA, however, had the benefit of success with the non-approval of the morning-sickness drug thalidomide, which had been approved in other countries and led to thousands of deformed children. Over the years they had also managed to ban the uses of food additives, and residual pesticides, etc.

The "Strange Bedfellows" idea was simply to identify those additics, drugs and devices which were being held up in the FDA's approval process, and enlist the stake-holders in a concerted action to brand the FDA as over-bureaucratic, over-budgeted and irrational — and so divert them away from expanding their territory into the regulation of cigarettes.

They had natural allies in this project in the food-processing and pharmacueticals companies, and also in the specific-biomedical advocacy groups — like the lay-people and families of victims who made up the AIDS organisations, Diabetics Associations. and Breast Cancer groups. They were all readily subject to wishful thinking and so to the propaganda of the 'instant wonder-drug' cures — and these were the ones that the FDA insisted on confirmation before approval.

With the benefit of hindsight, it is noteworthy that most of the drugs and devices that FDA's rejected were rejected for very good reasons. The FDA decisions have stood the test of time — and many drugs and devices that they reluctantly released, have since proved to be no better than the drugs or devices they replaced.

Some key documents

• B-M Strange Bedfellow file — from [2074040433] to 0462.

1994 Mar 5: The Associated Press WI Strange bedfellows: Hospitals, Tobacco, Unite Against Health Bill.

The tobacco industry and the Wisconsin Hospital Association have formed an alliance to oppose legislation that would tax tobacco and hospitals to support medical care for the needy.

    " The hospital association has a full-court press " to kiLl Assembly Bill 1162, Rep. Judith Robson, D-Beloit, said.

    Robson, sponsor of the bill, said inian interview that the association is serving as a" bagman " for the tobacco industry.

    The legislation proposes expanding a 17-county health care program for low-income families to all 72 counties, subsidized by a cigarette tax increase of 10 cents a pack and tapping existing hospital taxes.

[Walker Merryman of the Tobacco Institute has suggested that the government should tax beer, milk, butter and sausage" instead of tobacco — which wasn't enthusiasically endorsed by the tobacco companies that also owned beer and food subsidiaries. See sarcasting "Thank you Walker" note.

    This may have been the trigger for the later Burson-Marsteller project.]

1995 Mar 22: - The "Strange Bedfellows File" includes documents on a "Petition To Expedite The Evaluation And Approval Of Three Vital Aids Drugs" by "Log Cabin Republicans" Richard Tafel, and James Driscoll.
[Tafel was an associate of tobacco lobbyist Paul Dietrich]

    Log Cabin Republicans is the largest gay Republican political orqanisation in the Country with 43 clubs in 32 states, 10,000 members, an educational foundation, and a Washington office which lobbies for Republican programs and policies, the rights of gay people, AIDS care and research, and faster development and FDA approval of new AIDS trsatments.

1995 Sep 25: An outline and budget for this anti-FDA project sent to Philip Morris. They have as s target date, the November 9 "open comment deadline" [presumably of the FDA]. It lists two phases:

  • Phase I — proposes to identify products waiting for FDA approval, then find advocacy groups associated with these diseases, and send them propaganda material (after having tested their messages first)

        Budget for this phase is $27 - $35,000
    Throughout Phase I, we will be educating identified "strange bedfellows" on issues concerning FDA while conducting soft sounding activities. If a group indicates a high level of interest during the preliminary discussion, we will immediately proceed to Phase II and begin to position them on the issues.
  • Phase II — Meetings with the targeted ally organzations to further lobby and train them to attack the FDA. Budget not specified.

1995 Sep 25: B-M's preliminary list of potential allies in the "Strange Bedfellows" project, based on "products currently held up by the FDA approval process."

  • HIV home testing kit [list of possible allied gay organizations]
  • Medical devices [List of members of the Medical Device Manufacturer's Association who have products under evaluation]
  • Life Pulse High Frequency Jet Ventilator [for infants]
  • SensorPad for breast self-examination

Another list "Additional Groups" (obviously detached from the first) adds:
  • Food Products [with long list of food umbrella organisations and a note suggesting the use of Kraft to attack]
  • Think-tanks ( AEI, CSE, Progress and Freedom Foundation, CEI, Family Research Council and WLF.)
  • Pharmacueticals (79 company members of PhRMA)
  • Biomedical Technology
  • Miscellaneous "Other Groups". (cosmetics, cancer, etc.)

1995 Sep 29: Beverly McKittrick of PM to Jim Callan of Burson-Marsteller. She has sent them a list of possible contacts but says

Please do not contact any of the individuals mentioned without calling us first. The information may be useful as background.

    We are working on getting a more comprehensive list from Arnold & Porter.

    McKittrick advises her boss, David Nicoli that she has sent BM another list of think-tanks, but not to contact them without permission. Nicoli suggests that she contact Brennan Dawson (PR for the Tobacco Institute) to find out " Which one is TI handling ?"

1995 Oct: /E Philip Morris Media Plan for Select Districts. This is in opposition to the FDA which is attempting to classify nicotine as a drug. The counter-attack outline utilizes PM's own Media Action Network (MAN) (18 public relations firms located in the top 25 media markets and in PM's own USA plant communities) to attack the FDA in a number of key states. They plan to use a...

... combination of traditional public relations tactics, e.g., news releases, briefings, op-eds, LTEs, satellite feeds involving VNRs and radio actualities.
They will send these PR firms a
"general overview on FDA proposed regulations; key message points and one-page backgrounders on each of the messages, such as one on how this violates the First Amendment; another one on the impact on the federal budget; model op-eds; model LTEs; a print out from the data base of key allies who have already spoken out on the issue, e.g., local retailer, former legislator; (and) recent favorable articles"
The Field teams would then identify additional third-party allies which include:
" business and anti-regulation groups, think tanks, retailers, suppliers, legal authorities, former FDA and OSHA officials, federal legislators, consumers, and growers." [and] "strange bedfellows" who help to underscore the broad-based nature of our concerns and increase the political impact

Burson-Marsteller would continue to provide guidance and coordination. They have a Six Step proposal for generating favourable stories in the various districts.

    Also included is a Media Plan for the Three Key States. This would extend the activities by using
  1. "Polls commissioned by a third-party ally of peoples' views toward proposed regulation"
  2. Education seminars involving major retail groups
  3. Washington DC-based media events distributed across the USA by satellite feeds.
    Increase use of third-party allies, especially strange bedfellows, to deliver messages and broaden the political impact. Consider development of individual statewide coalitions that will put a face to the campaign and provide leverage for generating additional media coverage. An announcement of a state coalition's formation can be done at a news briefing, and we would use VNRs, radio actualities to amplify messages from the event.
  4. Political attacks directed at the President and legislators.

[The "Strange Bedfellows" project was run by Burson Marsteller as a way to enlist opposition to the FDA by making claims about unnecessary delays in the FDA approval processes, and encouraging biomedical advocacy groups to support their attacks.]

1995 Oct: Beverly McKittrick is presenting her plan for emasculating the FDA to her new employers, Philip Morris.

FDA - Beverly McKittrick
  • I     Objectives:
    1. Long-term - To create political environment where "moderates" of both parties on the Hill can vote for legislation that divests FDA of any power to regulate tobacco because they are convinced that FDA is already failing miserably in accomplishing its "core mission."
    2. Short-term - To quarterback behind the scenes, third-party efforts to launch, publicize and execute a broad non-tobacco-based attack on the many failings of the FDA with respect to its currently authorized statutory activities.

  • II     Third Party Groups: (to be recruited)
    • Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE),
    • Washington Legal Foundation (WLF),
    • Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI),
    • Progress and Freedom Foundation (PFF),
    • Advertising trade groups, ( ANA, AAF, AAAA and FAC)
    • Burson [Marsteller] 'Strange Bedfellow" projects. [unknown]
    • Alexis de Tocqueville Institute
    • Other groups run by Tom Borelli and Roy Marden (both with PM).

  • III     Forums for FDA Attack With Third Parties
    • Congressional —(mostly using the CSE which she claims "sits at table with Boehner concerning Republican priorities.")
    • Media
      • Paid Media;
      • Earned Media (using CSE);
      • Op-Eds (AdeT and Borelli)
      • Editorial Board Visits (WSJ and Washington Times)
    • Regulatory — (using FOIA and lawsuits (with WLF))

  • IV     Resources Available
    Arnold & Porter (corporate lawyers) and David Nelson [unknown]

[This was barely a month after McKittrick had transfered from the CSE to Philip Morris]

1995 Oct 13: Chris(tine) Naylor of BM has sent Beverly McKittrick a Project Progress Report. They have had 20 "soft sounding" meetings in the last two weeks and have another 10 to go.

1995 Oct 20: /E Burson-Marsteller appear to have moved into Phase II of their plan, and have been in contact with:

  • Medical Device Manufacturers Association (who are joining forces with them)
  • National Federation of Business and Professional Women (would consider)
  • Log Cabin Republicans (actively working with them)
  • American Enterprise Institute (under discussion)
  • National Association of People with AIDS (meeting with them)
  • Breast Cancer Foundation (under discussion)
  • National Black Women's Health Project (under discussion)
  • Alliance on Aging Research (considering letter)

1995 Oct 20: BM's Jim Callan and Chris Naylor (the project operative) have had a meeting with David Nicoli and Beverly McKittrick. Philip Morris are obviously concerned that the name of their company not be revealed to the groups that Burson-Marsteller are meeting.

    Callan writes:

We certainly appreciate your desire for confidentiality and completely concur with these views. We would be glad to limit our next round of contracts to five of the groups who are already in the loop on the issue, and don't pose a problem, from our perapective.

    We discussed these five contracts with Beverly and spelled them out in our most recent report. They would lend additional credibility to your efforts because they are outside the loop of your current contracts, and would carry the message to a much wider audience.

Nicoli was obviously not impressed by Christ(ine). His note to McKittrick says "Shut her down, the whole thing".

1995 Oct 23: A note in the file says "Project stopped per T/C with Jim Callan 10/23"



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