Sunday, November 28, 2004


A follow up to last week's discussion of Blagorgeous' public relations magic, this time a letter to the editor in the Chicago Sun-Times:
Flu vaccine on hold

On behalf of the most vulnerable residents of Illinois, New Mexico and New York City, we strongly urge you [David Williams, CEO of Aventis Pasteur Inc.] to cooperate with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and provide them the records and data about your flu vaccine that they need in order to allow us to provide European-made flu vaccine to the people in our cities and states who desperately need it.

Over the last month, since we learned about the severe shortage of flu vaccine in the United States, we have purchased vaccines made by Aventis Pasteur and GlaxoSmithKline from licensed suppliers in Europe. The FDA agreed to review the vaccines expeditiously, and on Oct. 29, following a meeting with officials from the State of Illinois, acting FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford contacted Aventis to request information needed to approve the vaccines. That was more than three weeks ago. While GlaxoSmithKline has already agreed to provide the FDA with the information to evaluate the vaccine, we understand that Aventis has yet to cooperate, putting hundreds of thousands of senior citizens and young children at serious risk.

The flu season already has begun, and the shortage of flu vaccines threatens the health of the most vulnerable members of our population. We have no doubt that you have read about, or even witnessed, the long waits and desperate measures many senior citizens in the United States are taking to try to find flu shots. Through our own contacts, we were able to locate additional flu vaccine in Europe. However, we cannot provide the vaccine to our citizens without FDA approval, and the FDA cannot move forward without your cooperation.

We're not asking Aventis to manufacture more flu vaccine. We're not asking for a discount on the price. We solely request that Aventis start cooperating with the FDA immediately so we can fulfill our obligations to the sick, elderly and children we have been elected to serve and protect.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich;
Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico
So let's check our Blagorgeous score card...

1) A cause that no one could be against -- "the health of the most vulnerable members of our population" -- Check!
2) Money outside the state's budget responsiblity -- "that Aventis start cooperating with the FDA immediately" -- Check!
3) A press release -- an open letter to the president of Aventis -- Check!

Even the Blago-bonus applies in this case: The Guv has brilliantly positioned himself so that 1) action by the drug company means an apparent victory for Blagorgeous, and 2) if the flu becomes an epidemic Blagorgeous can say he saw the looming threat and tried to stop it. Either way Rod Blagojevich is the champion of "the most vulnerable members of our population".

Once again, it's all upside and no downside.

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