Vioxx causing 500,000 deaths is an unfounded hypothesis by Ron Unz that first appeared on a 2012 article in The American Conservative magazine. It has been mindlessly repeated as a fact since then, mainly by people prone to believe conspiracy theories.

Who's Ron Unz, case you're not familiar? The former editor of The American Conservative, "editor-in-chief and publisher of The Unz Review, a website that promotes anti-semitism, Holocaust denial, conspiracy theories, and white supremacist material." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Unz)

It amazes me—although it doesn't surprise me—that you wrote a book called "Conspiranoia" and still can't spend 2 seconds on Google to avoid falling for and reproducing such bizarre claims—and present them as an established fact! (https://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2012/05/30/500000_excess_deaths_from_vioxx_where)

And it's a pity because you're jeopardizing your credibility and reputation and hence preventing valuable ideas from spreading. New (and old) readers can easily turn away from your work when they see a mix of progressive ideas and unfounded fabrications. But then the article is about Robert F. Kennedy Jr. 🤷🏽‍♂️😄

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I read that article already, and I fail to see how I'm wrong. The article was published 9 days after Unz's and it just reports on what Unz wrote, not adding anything new. So I'm not sure why you're sharing it now. (Here the original, if you want to compare them: https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/chinese-melamine-and-american-vioxx-a-comparison/)

It's clear on both articles that the 500,000 deaths are only a speculation made by Unz ("Perhaps 500,000 or more premature American deaths may have resulted from Vioxx") and nothing close to a number that went through a minimal scrutiny, let alone an established fact as you presented it.

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I am seeing estimates between 60,000 - 140,000 to 500,000 ... So I will amend the article... one issue with RFK is he always chooses the most extreme statistics when given a choice to support his arguments.

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Dec 19, 2020Liked by Daniel Pinchbeck

By saying that RFK chooses the most extreme statistics when given a choice, you're dismissing the difference between authoritative, trusted sources and random claims done by any idiot with internet access. That's exactly how fake news and conspiracy theories spread and thrive.

Had a monkey behind a keyboard typed 1,000,000 instead of 500,000, RFK would have immediately repeated that number, not caring to check where it came from.

And you can't call the 500,000 deaths that Ron Unz made up a "statistic" (or a statistical analysis). If you read his article, you see it was a mere speculation he did one morning after reading the newspaper and misreading CDC’s mortality data. Go now try to remove that number from the internet (or RFK's mind)... Impossible.

The 140,000 you mention is the maximum estimate of heart attacks the drug might have caused. The number comes from a FDA investigation. Only 30-40% of those heart attacks might have been fatal (~55.000). Check your sources. Now you just confused the number of possible heart attacks with the number of possible deaths.

(And if you don't like the FDA because they are "the government,” you can read The Lancet medical journal or check what other scientific publications have published about this.)

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Ok so 55,000 people needlessly killed by Vioxx, at minimum. The Week is usually a good source.

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Dec 20, 2020Liked by Daniel Pinchbeck

I don’t know if "at minimum” because the FDA investigator estimated between 88,000 and 140,000 heart attacks. In any case, yes, that seems closer to reality than half a million people.

55,000 is a lot of people indeed. But the moment we say 500,000 we give pharmaceutical companies all the reasons to discredit us as lunatics. That’s where RFK constantly puts himself. I guess that’s why he told you at the end of the interview that it takes a lot of courage for you to even talk to him. But it’s not just embarrassing to hear him complaining about lies and so on while shamelessly spreading misinformation of all kinds—it also jeopardizes his/our struggles.

To be honest the interview seemed to me a missed opportunity to confront his usual allegations. Instead you gave him the stage to repeat like a broken record what he always says. No follow-up questions, no concrete data prepared that could contrast, contextualize, correct, demystify or debunk his outlandish claims.

At the beginning of your article you suggest that people who still have a bit of faith in the establishment reject anything he says. I don’t think anyone rejects “anything" he says. I believe one can have no faith in the establishment whatsoever and still reject all his baseless claims. Which btw are what attract so much attention to him—baseless claims, family name and his tendency to give demagogic speeches.

It seems that nowadays in order to work for systemic change we are expected to believe all the colorful fabrications available. Why? How could we work for change if we don’t honor truthfulness or are too lazy to recognize plain, basic facts and we let ourselves be guided by our confirmation bias?

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