By Brad Johnson, campaign manager of Forecast the Facts.
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, the maker of Advil, ChapStick, and Viagra, is defending its relationship with the virulently anti-science Heartland Institute. Unlike competitor Eli Lilly, who dropped its support for Heartland after more than 150,000 people protested their “Unabomber” billboards, Pfizer continues to argue that it gets “significant benefits from our involvement” with the group.
In an email from “Customer Escalation” to Forecast the Facts about its decision to delete critical Facebook comments, Pfizer said its support for climate deniers helps “advance our business objectives”:
We do not agree with the Heartland Institute’s position on climate change.
Pfizer supports groups such as the Heartland Institute in specific health care policy issues (including vaccines and follow on biologics), and is also a member of several industry and trade groups that represent our industry and the business community at large. Our company and its stakeholders derive significant benefits from our involvement with these organizations, which help advance our business objectives related to healthcare policy.
Climate change is a fundamental global health threat, and it is a key facet of health care policy. The Heartland Institute’s radical attacks on climate science include denial of the impacts on climate pollution on health care policy:
“The best estimates of the net economic impact of the warming predicted by computer models show a small benefit — thanks to lower prices for energy, forestry products, and food — and unequivocal benefits to human health and longevity.” [Heartland Institute, President Joseph Bast, 7/22/04]
“Health Fears About Global Warming Are Unfounded.” [Heartland Institute, Senior Fellows S. Fred Singer and Dennis Avery, 10/1/07]
“Global Warming Health Fears Are Unsupported by Science.” [Heartland Institute, Senior Fellow James Taylor, 1/1/08]
“In summation, the material presented in this chapter represents overwhelming evidence for a positive effect of global warming on human health.” [Heartland Institute, Singer, Craig Idso, and Robert Carter, 8/29/11]
“EPA’S CARBON DIOXIDE RESTRICTIONS ENDANGER PUBLIC HEALTH” [Heartland Institute, Taylor, 4/14/12]
So what are the “significant benefits” the Heartland Institute provides? Pfizer has not disclosed how long it has supported the Heartland Institute, although leaked documents show a contribution of $130,000 in 2010. A review of Heartland’s website shows that its writers have heaped praise on Pfizer for years, implying a long-term relationship that goes back at least to 2002 and perhaps earlier.