Big Bucks In Veterans’ Blood Biobank

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Blood biobank

Benjamin KrauseVA appears to be gearing up for a big push of its blood biobank to play a major role in new disease-fighting initiatives involving advanced DNA mapping.

Do you think veterans will see a dime of any benefit? When will we know how many researchers and doctors are profiting off our data while inventing new patents like the Hep-C vaccine?

In the State of the Union address, President Obama called for huge spending in the Precision Medicine Initiative totaling $215 million in funding. The Million Veterans Program (with our blood biobank) will be part of that program.

According to Military Times, precision medicine is the field of medical treatment tailored to a patient’s condition, DNA makeup, environment and overall health. I will be curious to see how this gets rolled out at our nearest VA given their reliance on antiquated treatment protocols that seem to miss the mark with many of my clients resulting in death or injury.

OUR BLOOD IS FUNDAMENTAL TO PRECISION MEDICINE

VA officials are super excited to pimp our their greatest resource yet that is set to be used for civilian, academic and government research worldwide. Secretary Bob McDonald called the Million Veterans Program “one of our premier research programs” that will be “fundamental to the precision medicine initiative that the president has been leading.”

Ever wonder why they make us come in every year for a blood draw and other diagnostic tests in order to stay in the system? They want the blood.

The principal investigator for the program, Dr. J. Michael Gaziano, had this to say, “We are creating a massive central resource, and the investigators will come to us.” He continued, “We already are running some test cases to learn how to build the computing environment that allows researchers to come together and use this resource.”

HOW ARE WE SO ADVANCED BUT HAVE A BACKLOG?

Now, if they can accomplish this enormous feat of biomedical amazingness, why is VA seemingly unable to fix its wait list problem, the backlog for benefits claims, or other Stone Age type problems? Why are they still using 1980’s database systems for our health care? What are they using to conduct this amazing Million Veterans Program?

Perhaps by using old systems, they keep our cost of health care down while pimping out our data to the world? Personally, I would like an explanation.

In 2011, I met with VA contract officers about this database initiative they were working on. To the table of government contractors, they made the system of data gathering sound fantastic.

When I asked if veterans would be allowed to use the system to help prove our disability ratings and other pathology type issues, they just blinked. Apparently what is good for researchers is not good for veterans. But why should we not be allowed to use the same database that is pimping out our data to the world? It is something to ponder.

Source: https://www.militarytimes.com/story/veterans/2016/01/24/va-blood-biobank-play-major-role-conquering-diseases/79168864/

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20 Comments

  1. I find this incredibly interesting considering the fact that back in 2008 when I attempted to give my VAMC my civilian Dr.’s lab-work, which were two rather expensive genetic mapping tests called Genotype and Phenotype, that VAMC *refused* to even *look* at those tests that were done for the very reason to determine my viral resistance, in which showed I am resistant to ALL Classes of Drugs aside from -1-, and the VA wanted to just place me on whatever drug cocktail THEY wanted to…not accordingly to SCIENCE that was being done in the civilian medical. I had started my VA Claim back then but when I heard all the things the VA wanted to do, that my civilian Infectious Disease Dr. ***warned me to not accept***, this on top of other JUNK MEDICAL SCIENCE, made me go right back to my civilian Infectious Disease Specialist and all other Dr.’s, completely divorcing myself from the VA’s refusal to accept, let alone follow suit, with solid science.
    NOW the VA is acting like they are being innovative but folks, this genetic mapping IS NOT NEW. Seeing how that was back in 2008 and it’s now 2016, that’s a fair assessment that the VA is at LEAST 8 years if not MORE BEHIND the rest of the USA Medical Community. FACT!!!
    I would be more concerned about a few things: 1) What the VA wants with your blood, and 2) be worried that the VA may infect you with prior patient’s blood and infective agents as what happened to me, and 3) worried that your VAMC Blood Lab is not reusing needles to pad some bonuses at your expense.

    By the way: Genotyping and Phenotypes go back a decade or more before 2008. This effectively is making the VA -20- years behind the private medical community but are polishing that turd to try to make them look all new and shiny for that inevitable larger sum of $$$$ the VA will need to ask for…wait for it…

    • @namnibor
      Sometime late last year, a highly reguarded physician came on a “talkshow” (I don’t remember which one) and “alleged” the “medical professionals were anywhere from 10 to 20 years behind…” in patient care. She also admitted these “…professionals were behind in scientific research!”
      It’s no wonder the VA is so far behind. Due to the, 1.) Lack of quality in the training physicians receive. 2.) The VA hiring process, in my opinion, leaves much to be desired! Many come to VA with degrees from what most would call “Third World Countries.” Their lack of “expertise” leaves much to be desired!
      3.) In my opinion, using people to do “research” without the patients knowledge and/or permission should be concidered an illegal act! Yet, I believe we are being used as “lab rats!”

      • Informed Consent is a big issue in research, and I’ve seen several research proposals rejected not because they didn’t mention Informed Consent, but because the Research author did not address it clearly enough. Informed Consent is one thing, but testing on human subjects is a whole other ballgame requiring considerable more specifics in the Research proposal, including an Institutional Review Board.
        I suspect the VA is getting around any informed cosent question by claiming any blood samples are completely anonymous to the researchers. Again, if that is the case, it points to once again veterans being used, but getting zero benefit from the research. How would they if they find a problem in the blood, but cannot tell who’s blood it is?
        Also, imagine basic blood screening of each sample prior to research being conducted. What happens if a problem is shown in that blood sample that the VA missed?

    • Nam, I met private researchers from California who were doing this type of research for veterans in the late 90’s. There are $215 million reasons why the VA is patting themselves on the back over this. Given the comments from the hack running the VA program in Ben’s article, I can see the VA setting themselves up for administering the entire amount. Imagine being an independent researcher that has previously shown the VA to be liars or incompetent, and trying to get funding if the VA is doling it out.

    • In 1993 Clinton signed into law that the DOD can use any active duty military OR veteran for ANY MEDICAL RESEARCH ! “WITHOUT THEIR KNOWLEDGE OR CONSENT” !!!

      • Ahh…but we know from The Gulf War/Desert Storm, to Vietnam, and all the Active Duty of all Branches purposely exposed to major gamma ray and more from weapon testing, let alone the biological that has been going on like an eternal ‘X-File’.
        They did not need any formal law or permission. The Mid-80’s had quite a few Active Duty that just happened to come up both Hep B Positive and then shortly or down the line, HIV positive, and these were heavily rumored to be from Hep B Vaccine Testing and more.

  2. All very good questions Ben, but the answer is clear when you realize VA research has not been for the benefit of Veterans for many years. It has been a jobs program for VA hacks who have an army of grant writers that makes it almost impossible for those interested in medically helping people compete.
    Look over the VA research portfolio since 1990? How many millions have been spent? How many research projects never quite get there, and end with “more research is needed”? Meaning, continue to find my lavish survival.

    The ultimate question is, how many actual treatments of conditions have translated to veterans getting better care for those hundreds of millions?

    The Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program is a true mechanism for funding independent research, and has shown more promise for veterans in a few years with a paltry budget than the VA has shown in over 20 years and many millions of dollars thrown at them.
    Have a look at projects CDMRP has funded. New results were just released. There is a reason why the VA is trying very hard to shut down the Research Advisory Committee. They absolutely hate having to compete with private researchers on a level playing field.

  3. They sent me the paperwork to participate in their Million Veteran Program and I wadded it up and threw it in the trash. Several years ago, they got to asking me if I wanted to be tested for HIV. I turned that down also but when they asked me that again later on, I began to get worried that maybe they found out I got stuck with a dirty needle while at the VA lab or something. So, yes, I told them I wanted to be tested for HIV. They did the test and then informed me later that I was negative for it. But it still gets me to wondering whether I’m still at risk. The VA won’t ever tell me though!

  4. In Central America, places where you sell your blood are called “Casas de los vamparos”. According to recent court cases. You may not own yourself. Your parts,including: blood,DNA, or cells, or enzymes in your spit, may be the property of a mega drug company, or government agency. I have heard rumors that the National Association of Ghouls, is making deals with unnamed initialed agencies. Keep your powder dry.

    Dr. Ben Casey

    • Thanks, Lisa. For the recommendation, I’m a old Corpsman. So I knew about Ms.Lacks medical studies awhile back.
      I had an old Recon Master Chief, who use to tell us young Doc’s , to practice ethics before medicine. Hence the reason ,I got out the hell out of the field altogether. Ethics left the medical field, a long damn time ago.

  5. They’re getting us ready for that “Transhuman Agenda” Geno & Pheno type mapping originated from eugenics, it’s being touted as new science, but old BS.
    Veterans = Human Testing + $$$$ = Profits.

  6. I had blood drawn for Hepatitis C (I am negative) and my A1C at my civilian HMO. I always get the results emailed by the HMO to me in the same evening. I then copy the results and use the Myheath.vet email system and send them on to my PCP at the VA. I do not know what the HMO does with my surplus blood but I am sure they don’t do anything surreptituosly.

  7. I think, by law, the VA has to inform a veteran that he’s being used for research. This would also include a veterans blood work too wouldn’t it?

  8. You are worried about the wrong thing. Worry more about minimizing unneeded hospital activities like colonoscopies. The less you do in a VA hospital (or any hospital really, but especially VA,) the better. Live long and prosper.

  9. Several lawmakers in Louisiana and Mississippi are upset over McDonald appointing this Skye McDougall as the new head of the South Central VA Health Care Network. They wrote a letter to McDonald in opposition to the appointment of McDougall and signed it. The signees are Sen. David Vitter, Reps. Charles Boustany, and John Fleming, Steve Scalise, Garret Graves, Ralph Abraham, and Cedric Richmond. Sen. Bill Cassidy was the only hold out who didn’t sign the letter. Instead, Sen. Cassidy met with McDougall and then reported that he hopes McDougall’s forthrightness in their meeting continues as they work together to reform a broken VA system. I can bet that their discussion was mostly about her pay scale, bonuses, promotions, etc.and nothing was said about sick and dying veterans.

  10. If you read the fine print on the Million VA thing, you would have known that the knowledge learned about you, would not be shared with you, nor would you see any benefit from it in the near future.

    That is ok, as long as the veterans as a whole receive the benefits of the research in helping reduce lung and heart disease and the 1000 other diseases that are troubling our veterans today.

  11. I wonder what Henrietta Lacks’s family would do in this situation? The ethical issues are swept under the rug of “help your fellow veteran”. There is an injustice done here, and no one is talking about it at my VAMC. Sure, on the surface, this sounds like a deontological good, however, the hermeneutical issues at hand are pervasive, to say the least.

    Wake up people!!! This is your body!!! You may die and have your family find that you are still living/growing in a glass flute somewhere, in a lab, still being tested on.

    Not to mention, your results from your body (f not your body) may be sold freely –for profit — at any given time!

Comments are closed.