What’s Haig got to do with it?
What made me think of him today is I saw him on Fox and he made the remark that it was difficult to get old. I only wish my daughter Tara had had the opportunity. I am no fan of A. Haig. Below is an excerpt from an article (Time Magazine) in which it says that he pushed for the drug fen/phen to be approved by the FDA. Fen/phen was a diet drug (actually a combination of drugs) that was pushed through the approval process at record speed despite warnings that it may cause such problems as pulmonary hypertension and death. In fact, coincidentally I am friends with a woman who used the drug and about a day after she had her baby her heart stopped beating, she went into shock and nearly died. She successfully joined in a class action suit against the drug company but the problem remains that this relatively young person could still die anytime as a result of using this drug. That would leave her young daughter without a mother to raise her. The drug was eventually (voluntarily), pulled from the market. Sound familiar????? Alexander Haig who’s worth is reported to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000,000, (not bad for an old general), was on the board of directors of IFT, the company that produced the IFEN that is suspected of causing the sr111 tragedy. An air safety expert once said to me when I mentioned that he was on the board of directors, ‘Wherever there is evil, you will find Alexander Haig.’ Yes it is tough getting old, but what’s the alternative? Here is an excerpt from the Time Magazine article and the url. Both IPOs (IFT, Redux) were underwritten by you guessed it, D.H. Blair the investment company that recently had several employees indicted for their ‘pump and dump’ tactics (and who also underwrote the IFT IPO)
MIT professor Richard Wurtman and J. Morton Davis were founders of Interneuron, the company that licensed the diet drug dexfenfluramine (Redux) from the French pharmaceutical firm Servier Laboratories. Fenphen was later taken off the market for causing heart valve damage. Davis has owned up to a third of the company through D.H. Blair Investment Banking, and Davis and/or another son-in-law are on the Board of Directors.
Article regarding Haig, and the drug fen/phen:
These dramatic results kicked off a fen/phen fad. But there were a few problems with the combination. Some patients still got drowsy, and others suffered from depression, loss of sexual appetite, headaches, diarrhea and dry mouth. The same serious medical problems now being ascribed to Redux--pulmonary hypertension and possible brain damage--began showing up as well. Moreover, fen/phen worked for only so long. Patients usually stopped losing weight after a few months and began to regain it once they stopped taking the drugs.
Meanwhile, Servier had finally figured out how to produce pure dexfenfluramine, without its mirror-image molecule. This was a potentially profitable discovery, since the patent on fenfluramine was about to run out, and the new formulation could be considered a novel, patentable drug. Servier approached Wurtman in the late 1970s with a proposal that he purchase the U.S. rights to dexfenfluramine. Wurtman tested the drug, found it was indeed effective and agreed. The actual purchaser would be Interneuron Pharmaceuticals, a company co-founded by Wurtman to market discoveries by M.I.T. scientists. Interneuron subsequently licensed the drug to Wyeth-Ayerst for marketing.
Then Interneuron went after and got FDA approval--a ruling that critics charge was made with unseemly--and perhaps even unprofessional--haste. Says Lewis Seiden, a University of Chicago pharmacologist who testified before the FDA advisory committee: "The procedures were loose, to be mild about it."
What Seiden and others claim is that the FDA glossed over evidence that both Redux and the older drug fenfluramine cause significant brain damage in laboratory animals, from mice to baboons. The problem, they say, is that after the drugs are withdrawn, serotonin levels plummet and stay low for weeks at least. The effect is similar to one caused by the recreational drug Ecstasy, a distant chemical cousin of the fenfluramine family, and the cause is evidently the same: neurotoxicity, or more plainly, the killing of brain cells. An overdose of Redux makes the neurons that produce serotonin swell, then wither, then die, according to Johns Hopkins neurologist Dr. Mark Molliver. Eventually some of the cells regenerate, but they are often malformed. Moreover, the overdose doesn't have to be huge. All Molliver had to do was double the dosage required for weight loss. In humans, such an overdose could presumably happen if a patient simply took two pills by accident instead of one.
This potential danger, when combined with the generally acknowledged risk of pph, was enough to persuade the FDA advisory committee to reject Redux by a 5-to-3 vote on the question of safety when it first came up for consideration a year ago. But a few hours later, FDA official Dr. James Bilstad reopened the discussion after some committee members had left the meeting. Since there was no longer a quorum, a new meeting was called for two months later, in November.
When that time came, however, the anti-Redux forces were missing. The meeting had been scheduled--all too conveniently, they suggest--to coincide with an international neurosciences conference in San Diego. And at the second meeting, Redux won approval by a one-vote margin. That, along with the fact that Interneuron sent a high-profile member of its board of directors, Alexander Haig, to the November meeting in what was perceived as a high-pressure lobbying effort, led to charges that Redux was moved through improperly. Not so fast, counters the FDA's Bilstad. Yes, he did reopen the issue after last September's no vote. But that, he says, is because it became clear that the vote to reject was invalid: at least one member had misunderstood the wording of the question on the table. "Obviously," says Bilstad, "we wanted a nonambiguous recommendation from the committee." Some members had left the meeting, though, and without a quorum he couldn't proceed. He considered polling the absentees by phone, but the FDA counsel advised against doing so.
Hence the November meeting. Bilstad acknowledges that the schedule conflicted with the San Diego neurosciences conference. But since Seiden and other Redux opponents had thoroughly aired their views in September and had no new findings, Bilstad decided to go ahead. Says he: "We weighed the idea of putting off the decision for several months, until those experts could be there. Since the committee had heard their presentations before and were given transcripts, we decided that we had the benefit of their comments on the issues. It was a judgment call."
From U.S. News:
Since the FDA ordered the drugs removed from the market, medical experts have attributed more than 200 cases of pulmonary hypertension in this country to Pondimin and Redux, according to U.S. News. It also reported that at least 40 of those cases have resulted in death.
From an old post on the sr111 board:
Someone was kind enough to look into what Alexander Haig's role in IFT might
been. As you remember he sat on their board of directors. On April
8, 1996, about
3 weeks prior to signing of the Swissair deal, Interactive Flight
entered into a consulting agreement with General Alexander M. Haig, Jr. and
Associates, Inc. Under this agreement, General Haig was to provide
advisory services to IFT to advance the company's interests worldwide.
The agreement had a three-year
term, and for his services, Haig would be paid an an aggregate amount of
plus a fee of one percent (1%) of gross revenues received by the IFT from
customers obtained by way of General Haig's significant advice or
assistance. The agreement also
took into consideration that, subject to stockholder approval at the Annual
General Haig would become a director of the company and receive options to
aggregate of 150,000 shares of Class A Common Stock over a three-year
period. Then in
a SEC filing on July 1, 1996 it was announced that General Haig would be a
for director at IFT's annual meeting of stockholders to be held on August
Haig was described as "Chairman and President of Worldwide Associates Inc, a
firm which assists public and private corporations both here and abroad in
and implementing marketing and acquisition strategies in addition
to providing strategic advice on
the domestic and international political, economic and security environment
affect global commercial activities". He was President and Chief Operating
United Technologies Corporation and a member of its Board of Directors in
1979, and is a member of the Board of
Directors of America Online, Inc., Inteneuron Pharmaceutical, Inc., MGM
Grand, Inc., and
Progenitor, Inc.. On October 11, 1996 Alexander Haig appeared in a SEC
as one of the directors of IFT. It is not known if Mr. Haig assisted
IFT in soliciting
Swissair, or if Mr. Haig was involved with IFT prior to entering the
That link probably doesn't work because when they converted Yahoo Clubs to Groups most of the urls got destroyed unfortunately.
This really needs to be looked into one of my sources tells me.
The company also attracted many prominent investors and board members. Alexander Haig, the former secretary of State, was a consultant and a director. John Pritzker, a member of the family that owns the Hyatt hotel chain, was on the board. James Wolfensohn, the head of the World Bank, bought shares for his children. Another shareholder was Orin Kramer, a leading Democratic Party fundraiser and a friend of then-president Bill Clinton. IFT's initial public offering of stock was underwritten by D. H. Blair Investment Banking, which was led by J. Morton Davis, a well-connected executive who donated to both political parties and introduced prominent people like Haig and Wolfensohn to IFT.
In May 1996, Swissair agreed to pay about $72 million, plus the cost of installation, upgrades and design modification, for entertainment systems on 16 McDonnell Douglas MD-11s and five Boeing 747 jets. Swissair planned on offering lotto, keno and video slots to passengers on non-U.S. routes, and revenue would be shared by the airline, IFT and the Swiss international lottery system.
Three weeks before IFT announced its original Swissair deal, the company signed a consulting deal with Haig, White House chief of staff under President Nixon and President Reagan's secretary of State. IFT named Haig to its board of directors and agreed to pay the influential Republican $50,000 annually, plus 1% of gross revenue.
Haig says he called on airlines to buy IFT's entertainment system but wasn't involved in the Swissair deal. After the deal was finalized, he says he discussed it with Thomas Schmidheiny, a close friend and former member of Swissair's board of directors.
Schmidheiny, one of the world's wealthiest individuals, says that the IFT deal was brought before the Swissair board, and it agreed to go ahead with the project.
Schmidheiny was also a member of the board of the SAirGroup, the parent of the collapsed Swissair.
He said he had cooperated fully with Spanish authorities on the insider trading case but would not comment on Swissair, explaining that it would not be correct to do so with possible legal action pending.
A report from consultants Ernst and Young in January was heavily critical of the so-called ï¿½Hunterï¿½ strategy at Swissair, in which the carrier bought stakes in several other airlines in a failed attempt to lead its own alliance.
It blamed the board for allowing Swissair management to buy airlines, which were financially unsound at excessive prices. And it accused the board of tolerating the fact that in certain airline investments, the SAirGroup had effectively circumvented European Law.
A decision has yet to be taken concerning any legal action against SAirGroup management.
The above is an excerpt from an interview with Schmidheiny. If I were interviewing him this would be my question:
Did you have any involvement in the decision to purchase the IFEN and if so why from an unknown inexperienced little company out in the middle of Arizona?
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