Kim Witczak: Viewing Covid-19 Through an Advocacy Lens
Kim Witczak is an international drug safety advocate. She became involved in pharmaceutical drug safety issues after the sudden death of her husband in 2003 due to an undisclosed drug side effect. Kim was instrumental in helping to get FDA Blackbox suicide warnings added to antidepressants.
This is an edited segment from the weekly live General Assembly meeting on January 31, 2022. The full General Assembly Meeting is available in our multimedia library.
This clip is also available on Odysee.
Here’s what WCH members, staff, and coalition partners are saying about Kim’s presentation:
“You rock Kim!!!” -Interest Of Justice
“Bravo Kim!” -Laurent Goldstein
“In support of Kim’s information regarding the corruption and toxicity of SSRI “anti-depressants” https://worldcouncilforhealth.org/multimedia/david-healy-ssri-global-health/” -Mark Trozzi MD
“All in lockstep, great observation.” -Interest Of Justice
“Kim, Absolutely. This is an aggressive and frightening marketing.” -Hanna
“Great work and presentation Kim! Thank You!” -Mark Trozzi MD
“Thank you Kim! You are such a shining light!” -Zoe Strickland
“Great job Kim. Thanks.” -Joel Wallskog, React19
“Kim thank you so much for this wonderful clear presentation.” -Emma Brierly
“Great presentation Kim. Inspiring that you took your grief, and turned it into a voice of advocacy & truth.” -Rochagné Kilian
“Passionate Curiosity, hope and empathy – thank you Kim!” -Jackie Stone
“Beautiful presentation Kim. Very well spoken. Thank you!” -Karen McKenna
“Thank you Kim. You are a great inspiration!” -Dr Pri Bandara
“I sold sertraline in early 2000s. I left pharma for my conscience. I remember your husbands case. Thank you for sharing. You are an inspiration.” -JMac
“Stay strong Kim. You have support from the southernmost tip of South Africa,Cape Town.” -Fahrie Hassan
“Thank you Kim for that great presentation!” -Shehnaz K.
“Brilliant presentation!” -Megha
“Thank you Karen. Love your passion.” -Ellapen Rapiti
“Thank you, Kim.” -Marek Skowroński
“Thank you Kim, I love your passion.” -Laurent Goldstein
“Thank you so much Kim, humbling and heartfelt. Your experience is so helpful, if painful to hear. You’re a shining light.” -Meleni Aldridge
“Thank you Kim. Sorry about your loss.” -Mascha
“KIM – AMAZING YOU ARE A ROCK STAR HUMAN.” -Jessica Rose
“Thx!! Powerful and passionate.” -Klaus Wachter
“Kim you are incredibly strong and powerful!!! Thank you so much for what you are doing!!! Honored to have been listening to you tonight!!” -Zafeiria Kakaletri
“Stay Strong Kim, we’re here with you spiritually! We appreciate you!!!” -Interest Of Justice
“Thank you so much Kim! You are indeed a rockstar. A real one.” -Marleen Greenberg
“Thank you Kim! Powerful talk. You are amazing!!” -Karen McKenna
“DANKESCHÖN liebe KIM!” -Dr. Maria Hubmer-Mogg
“Keep your strength, Kim!” -Doc Heiko
“You are right Kim – Big Pharma is a business. Expecting them to support a cure and patient health is like expecting arms dealers to support world peace.” -Jackie Stone
[00:00:32] Christof Plothe: The next speakers are going to be Kim Witczak from USA, viewing COVID-19 through an advocate lens.
[00:00:39] Kim Witczak is an international drug safety advocate, speak with over 25 years professional experience in advertising and marketing communications. She became involved in pharmaceutical drug safety issues after the sudden death of her husband in 2003, due to an undisclosed drug side effect of antidepressants. She was instrumental in helping to get FDA black box suicide warnings, added to antidepressants in 2004 and 2006.
[00:01:09] So thank you very much for your time in joining us and I’ll hand it over to you and to Zoe.
[00:01:17] Kim Witczak: Good afternoon. Thank you so much for including me. It was an honor to be on the same or following Dr. Malone and seeing some of my heroes and Dr. Kory.
[00:01:28] Mine is going to be a whole different type of presentation than Dr. Malone’s and talking about all the science and all of that. All I know is people like you and him are really instrumental in doing my work, but so I am going to, um, you know, I first to give you a little background, I need to, um, tell you a story about how I became the accidental advocate.
[00:01:51] Unfortunately I didn’t know, only too well, the high price of a failed drug safety system. I never set out to do this advocacy work, but as I say, sometimes our greatest purposes choose us. This is my husband, Woody and me. It’s 2003. We are happily married. We both have successful careers and started to talk about having a family.
[00:02:14] However, on August 6th, 2003, while out of town on business, I got a call from my dad that changed my life forever. My husband of almost 10 years was found hanging from the rafters of our garage dead at age 37. Woody wasn’t depressed nor did he have a history of depression or any other mental illness.
[00:02:36] Woody had just
[00:02:37] started his dream job with a startup company and was having difficulty sleeping. So he went to his family doctor and was given, um, the antidepressant Zoloft and was told that it would take the edge off and help him sleep. Five weeks later, he was dead. While I was out of town, the next thing I remember is the coroner asked if Woody was on any medication.
[00:03:00] I couldn’t remember the name of it, but she proceeds to tell me there’s a bottle of Zoloft sitting on the kitchen counter and needed to take it with her because it might have something to do with his death. Zoloft? What would Zoloft have to do with his death? We were told it was perfectly safe.
[00:03:18] Ironically, the front page of our local newspaper had an article that same day that said the UK finds link between antidepressants and suicide. From the beginning Woody’s death never made any sense. Why would a guy who loved life take his own life? At this time there were no black box warnings on antidepressants.
[00:03:38] So it became my mission to educate and help change the label. So immediately my brother-in-law and I got on a plane and headed to DC and met with FDA, HHS, Congress, and even helped with the energy and commerce subcommittee investigations that ultimately led to congressional hearings on antidepressants.
[00:03:58] Woody’s story was also featured in media, um, around the world, unlike what we’re seeing today. I also had a “failure to warn wrongful death” lawsuit against Pfizer and was able to get documents out from under, uh, next slide. That’ll show some documents. We’re able to get documents out from under seal that the, um, that the FDA, Pfizer and others have long known about the risk of suicide, but failed to tell the public.
[00:04:27] So eventually we helped to get a black box suicide warning added in 2004 for kids, and 2006 for young adults. To think this was 13 years after the FDA first held hearings in 1991 on suicide and Prozac. How many lives were destroyed before the FDA finally warned about the risk of suicidality with SSRS.
[00:04:53] At one of our first meetings with the head of the FDA, we asked the agency, why weren’t they curious and planning to investigate, especially if somebody who wasn’t depressed when on to hang himself, just as the NTSB investigates, after a plane crash, I would have thought the FDA and Pfizer would want to get to the bottom of what was going on.
[00:05:13] Instead they told us we were just anecdotes. They didn’t see suicide in the, um, or suicidal ideation happening in the company, clinical trials. I quickly learned they like to blame the person and the disease, not their medication. Initially, I thought this was just an isolated issue with antidepressants, but I quickly realized it was a bigger systemic problem with our nation’s drug safety system. A system
[00:05:41] was, that is driven by commercial interests, compounded by issues, such as lack of transparency, conflicts of interest undue industry influence with marketing and PR spins, ghostwriting manipulation of clinical trials. And then there’s the politics within the role of the FDA and Congress. And truthfully the system isn’t really set out to look and focus on harms.
[00:06:09] No one really wants to talk about it until it’s too late. So when COVID hit in 2020, and the focus quickly turned to operation warp speed, I took pause. Up to this point, vaccine safety advocacy was never my issue. However, something didn’t sit right about these rushed novel one size fits all approach vaccines using the emergency use authorization to come to market.
[00:06:41] In my over 18 years of drug safety, um, experience all starting with the death of my husband, which pharma likes to consider acceptable collateral damage or the cost of doing business. I have had to intimately learn how to connect the dots between the business of pharma, the regulatory legal and legislative systems.
[00:07:05] I also have the unique perspective of sitting on one of the FDA advisory committees, reviewing new drugs, coming to market. In addition, as you heard in my bio, uh, I spent my entire career and I’m still in advertising and marketing. My business is in the business to change consumer behavior in an effort to help drive our client’s businesses.
[00:07:28] So I understand the marketing and messaging machine. So here are a few of my observations in no particular order, but it’s kind of viewed through this lens. Starting with, from the beginning, powerful messaging, uh, COVID equaled death, the fear of the virus, um, it’s your moral obligation was stamped into human psyche. And then there was the one size fits all approach.
[00:07:58] Instead of focusing on those who are sick or the most vulnerable. Since when has a one size fits all medication, um, happened like in all medicine has risks. Um, and we also, um, walked away from a key leg or component of medicine, which is informed consent. The rushed and shortened clinical trials done within months.
[00:08:21] Usually they take years to do these kinds of trials and on top of it, they were unblinded and we lost the placebo control group. And the opportunity to learn in a controlled environment, which are still going on, how the efficacy works on long-term as well as crucial, uh long-term and short term safety impacts.
[00:08:47] I also found it interesting that there was no discussion of early treatment or natural immunity or wanting ways to, um, help boost our immunity or to talk about the risk factors. And as we all know, some of the repurposed drugs were quickly demonized. Knowing what I know about how the FDA works, had there been drugs on the market that worked, they would not have been able to use the emergency use authorization mechanism to fast-track this product to market.
[00:09:20] I see this all the time in my role, um, sitting on the FDA committee, most of the drugs that are coming before our committee are using some form of breakthrough therapy or other fast tracking mechanism, which ultimately compromises the gold standard of clinical trials. Having had a lawsuit, I found the idea that the companies using the EUA were granted complete legal immunity.
[00:09:48] Like they couldn’t, they couldn’t be held liable for the products that they made, um, and, you know, for potential harms and deaths that were caused by their products. So the fact that they can’t be sued, um, definitely raised a flag. Then, of course there’s the role of media. You saw some of those earlier photos where the media actually, they helped sometimes, but you know, uh, there still were a lot of issues
[00:10:13] like what we’re seeing today. Where is investigative journalism? Mainstream media has quickly become an extension of the PR departments of the government and pharmaceutical companies. The mantra of “completely safe and effective” has become the mantra that we all hear non-stop bombarded by the media.
[00:10:35] And then of course, you know, being a marketer, I was immediately drawn to the idea that the first round of incentives were, uh, the donuts for a day. Um, you know, every day for a year, if you show your vaccine, we have baseball tickets, we’ve got, uh, come into the bar, get your shot, and then get a shot. $200 for kids.
[00:11:00] In the states, we’ve got a chance to win a million dollars, a lottery, and even get a full rides college scholarship. Is this really health or is it marketing? And in my world, it’s marketing. And then of course you have the celebrities and influencers all doing their, you know, like on Instagram, taking their shot, saying that it is “completely safe and effective.
[00:11:25] Go out and get your shot. Do your part.” Classic marketing tool. I also found the, uh, idea that there was no public debate of other perspectives, opinions, review of data. Instead people that had different opinions like Malone and a lot of the people like, uh, in this group, they’re censored. They’re shut down.
[00:11:44] Their social media accounts are shut down. And people that are using their high social status of like celebrities and political equity, uh, come to try to drive their official, the official agenda, like what we’re seeing in Spotify today. So I think that’s, that is a huge problem. And I see it on the, uh, FDA.
[00:12:05] I’ve always said it from day one. When I look back at the antidepressants, why aren’t we hearing from the people that saw the risk of suicide in the UK, Dr. Healy, and why aren’t we hearing from them? And, but we only heard from the FDA and the people that they wanted to hear from. So I’ve always questioned that and I will always push for debate.
[00:12:23] Then of course, there’s data collection. You know, there’s so much data out there, but like what constituted case? How our deaths collected? Is it with COVID, of COVID? Are you unvaccinated because you got harmed a day after the vaccine, but it’s not, it doesn’t count for two weeks. Like the whole thing, like there’s just, nobody seems to be questioning that, um, from the mainstream or even our, uh, the official narrative.
[00:12:50] And then, um, of course, one thing that has driven me crazy is the changing, the moving goalposts around messaging. The messaging started out from two weeks, stay at home, to get the vaccine it’ll prevent COVID and stops transmission to whoa, it’s waning, but you’re going to need a booster. Oh yeah. You’re going to need another booster. To now everybody’s going to get affected, but the jab, um, protects you from severe disease and hospitalization.
[00:13:21] And so it just kept changing, so that I found and that’s okay. I mean, new science changes, but then you have to be able to have conversation and have debates. And then it seems like we have a global playbook. So we are a global world as you know, as what zoom allows us to do and connect with people from all over the world.
[00:13:40] And, and it seems like it’s a very well orchestrated, um, playbook. Everybody’s speaking off the same talking points. The same ones are being used by the leaders, uh, regulators, mainstream media, all using, um, the same similar language, the tactics of name calling and censoring different opinions. And they’re all the same opinions. And “false and misleading”.
[00:14:07] It seems like that is just, now everybody’s like false and misleading. It’s like a common, you know, you talk to anybody in the public that is not in our space and they’re like, oh yeah, that’s just false and misleading. It’s all. So it, they have done a really good job of getting that, um, put into our, into our mindset.
[00:14:22] Um, but you know, they shut down social media, PR campaigns, um, mainstream media silencing everyone that goes against the official narrative. And as you know, um, Dr. Malone said, you know, even listening to some of the highly conflicted Reuters, um, fact checkers, you know, just understanding that system and who’s behind the money behind it.
[00:14:44] As my husband always said, follow the money and you will always get your answers. And then of course there’s the lack of transparency, access to data, and the open public FDA hearings, um, for these big decisions around the children’s authorizations and boosters. You know, I’ve been involved in FDA. I spoke before all the FDA advisory committees since last December and I was shocked.
[00:15:08] But not. But they promised us that we would have open and transparent, um, transparent process, but we didn’t when it came to kids and boosters. So, and then obviously the access to the data, we all know what’s happening. Um, with, you know, it’s going to be 75 years and now the lawsuits are saying it’ll probably be within this year, but now the FDA is asking Pfizer to get involved, to help them with the large volumes of data that needs to be retracted.
[00:15:37] So that raises a flag. This is probably the one that is most, um, close to my heart because, um, it’s what I’ve experienced. And that is the gaslighting of those who have been vaccine injured and the deaths. They did their part that the government asks them to do, but, and they were injured and now they’re left on the battlefield and they’re on their own.
[00:16:03] There has been no interest from the government officials or the mainstream medical establishment to consider injuries or the link of injuries to the vaccines. No acknowledgement or help. Instead, the harms are vilified by the media and the injured are called anti-vaxxers. Just like we were called Scientologists back in the day with antidepressants. They’re silenced and discredited.
[00:16:31] It’s all in their head. They all have an agenda. I mean, it’s really beyond, um, inhumane. And I have personally, um, worked with and have gotten to know some of my friends that run reactnineteen.org who experienced this every single day and they are my heroes. And then of course the VAERS system, we all know the VAERS system is not perfect.
[00:16:57] But I’ve always said that MedWatch or the VAERS system should serve as a signal and we need our regulators to be interrogating the data and reports of harm. I’ve long advocated for an independent safety review and monitoring board. The people who approve the products should not be the same people who are responsible for monitoring safety.
[00:17:21] The FAA does not investigate plane crashes. The NTSB does. The world of drug and vaccine safety needs its own NTSB. And that’s something that I know that we’re going to be pushing for in Congress. And then finally, I must, um, touch on the idea of mandates that are affecting all of our lives. This is not a red or blue issue.
[00:17:44] It’s a human rights issue. I say, where there’s risk, there must also be choice. There’s a dark irony in the era of patient-centered care and shared decision-making. Neither patient-centered care nor shared decision-making are even present in the conversations around mandates. People should not have to be coerced or forced to choose between freedom to bodily autonomy or their livelihood. Public health, maybe population based approach.
[00:18:18] But we need to remember that we’re still treating individuals and a one size fits all does not work. In closing, critical thinking and ability to have conversations with differing opinions is a must. So I want to leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Albert Einstein. Um, and that is “I have no special talents.
[00:18:41] I’m just passionately curious.” I believe that being curious is essential to problem solving and learning. When we opened the door to increasing our knowledge and understanding, we grow in innovation and creativity. The issues that we’re discussing are not black and white, rather they’re both, and shades of gray.
[00:19:02] The pandemic has been, uh, politicized and has created such division in our society and personal lives. Families being torn apart. And I want it to be our collective goal to like bring back hope, um, empathy, the ability to have conversations, to have human connections again. So thank you for, um, allowing me to have this opportunity to, uh, address this amazing group.
[00:19:32] I look forward to working together because I think it takes all of us in all of our roles and positions. And unfortunately some of us have to be victims, and I hate that word victim, but it’s the ones that had to live with the consequences. And so thank you for all you guys that are out there fighting for us.
[00:19:51] And also standing up for the injured and acknowledging them because we’ve got a lot of work to do, but, and I also have to say, um, what we heard about the trucker’s amazing, amazing. Thank you.
[00:20:03] Christof Plothe: Well, thank you very much, Kim. Thank you very much for the very moving presentation and for your determination, courage and persistence on these issues.
[00:20:11] And, um, yeah, we’ll have to ask ourself what the accepted collateral damage with this rollout will be, um, observing that the 40% rise in overall mortality last month has climbed to over up to 140%. You know what it means when your so-called accepted collateral damage, um, what a term and absolutely we need some independent safety monitoring.
[00:20:37] And I think there will be lots of questions that are handed over to Kat to do that. Thank you.
[00:20:44] Dr. Kat Lindley: I just want to share a comment that someone made. They said it’s a very inspiring that you took your belief and turned it into a voice of advocacy and truth. And the work that you’re doing for all of us is amazing.
[00:20:55] And we’re very grateful. I have one question for you from, uh, Shabnam. The question is, have you ever experienced big pharma pressure because of your committed advocacy?
[00:21:06] Kim Witczak: Oh, absolutely. Um, I think back to when I had just even my lawsuit, I saw the tactics that they did. They went to neighbors. Pfizer had me for nine hours for my, um, interrogation and the first half of it, all they want to know is who knew what in DC.
[00:21:23] And finally I looked at him. Yeah, This is not a go, you are not asking anything about my husband being dead. And then finally they asked a question, so I know their tactics that they did, and they wanted to know how did I meet Senator Grassley. They wanted to get into my nitty gritty. They wanted to know about where I got the documents, but I took those documents.
[00:21:41] As soon as my lawyers that were amazing, got them out. I took them out because it was not my story. It was in black and white, their letterhead, not mine. And I just, and there were, you know, thousands of people that have been impacted by the antidepressants. And then as recent as, you know, I sit on the FDA advisory committee and, um, and we were reviewing and I’m not sure how many people know the story or the backstory behind Chantix, which is the, um, anti-smoking, um, or smoking cessation drug.
[00:22:12] Well, Pfizer, um, after they settled all the lawsuits and shut up every one of the victims, they came to the FDA to remove, to get the black box warning removed. That was on the drug. And, um, so I was excited because I was now sitting on the committee and I was excited to ask, but, um, a couple of days, um, cause I wanted to know where the victims were.
[00:22:32] I wanted to know why all of a sudden now are we removing the black box warning when there’s all these people and they settled for millions of dollars. Why couldn’t we hear from them? A couple of days before I went to the FDA and said that, um, and got me basically kicked off the advisory committee and I was not able to go because I had an intellectual bias and I remember challenging them saying, an intellectual bias, if I have an intellectual bias and we all do, and I will, I said an intellectual bias,
[00:23:00] I will always have safety first. And if that’s an intellectual bias, you don’t want me on the FDA committee because that is where I will always come from. I will also always, if I’m wrong, I will admit that I’m wrong or I’m not, I’m not so married into my point of view. So yes I have had pressure. But I also know.
[00:23:19] Um, I also know that I already lost the most important thing in my life, and I know what this means. I don’t want other people to have the same fate that I do. So that at the end of the day has been my driving mission and I will continue to do it. And, you know, pharma’s pharma, as a business.
[00:23:39] Dr. Kat Lindley: Well, thank you very much for everything that you do for us, for someone who does a lot of advocacy, takes great commitment, and we appreciate everything you do. When you get a chance, please look at the chat. There’s lots of great comments there for you. And, uh, please let us know, uh, how to get in touch with you again, so that all our partners can get in touch with you if they have questions.
[00:24:00] Kim Witczak: Hey, I was
[00:24:01] going to say, I think it’s on the last slide too, but, um, [email protected], um, or KimWitczak.com is my other website as well. So, uh, thank you so much, um, for allowing me this opportunity.