Crafting the (near perfect) infomercial.

Anatomy of a black market drug - Part Two.

Part Two of the Anatomy of a black market drug takes a look at the methods to sell illegal substances; in this case, GS-441524 (mainly) and GC-376 (sometimes).

The goal of the infomercial is to obfuscate the obvious (illegal, unsafe, insufficiently tested) and impart consumer confidence. If the public can be lulled into thinking that the Chinese black-market versions of GS-441524 are OK, then the illegal part is a mere technicality.

How do you do that? It’s rather simple. Keep in mind who the buyers are: desperate cat owners who have been told their cat has FIP, and their cat is most likely going to die. Despair and hopelessness fuel the black market. People have a hard time using logic and reason when their emotions cloud their judgement and obliterate common sense. All the actors in the black market infomercial cater to that, even prey on it. Here is what they need to achieve:

  • Get potential buyers to disregard the fact that they do not know for sure what they are buying, and only rely on what the sellers and their helpers tell them they are buying.
  • Convince them that what they sell is “the cure for FIP,” even though there is no cure for FIP, just claims from people abusing their status in the FIP community to pronounce a “cure” when there is no evidence of it. There was no clinical trial, only a single field study on a limited, hand-picked sample of cats (the nuance is important), and that is the foundation of this entire charade.
  • Make them feel good about turning their cat into a guinea pig for live experiments with unregulated, illegally obtained chemicals requiring months of painful injections that will make the poor, sick cats, screaming in excruciating pain, wonder what they have done to deserve such treatment. Contrary to what owners want to believe, cats do not feel that the pain inflicted is for their own good. That’s just what people tell themselves to justify their choice and ease their guilt.

And here is how it is done:

First, blame everybody but the black market sellers and their facilitators. It means blaming Gilead Sciences, Inc. and the FDA. Gilead is portrayed as a greedy, uncaring big pharma company that owns this “miracle” called GS-441524, yet sits on it and lets cats die. The FDA is characterized as a mean, cumbersome regulatory agency that takes years to approve anything, and places such a burden on manufacturers that it is no wonder people resort to black-market suppliers. If you push that twisted reasoning further, the black market sellers and whoever supports them are the good guys, and Gilead and the FDA are the bad guys – along with whoever does not approve of the black market.

The underlying message in the black-marketers rhetoric is that Gilead deserves to have its patented property stolen, and the FDA deserves to be bypassed, and everybody who is not with the black market is against them. As ludicrous as it sounds, this is the kind of alternate reality that they spin endlessly on social media, where hopeless cat owners are only too eager to believe the fairy tales rather than the stark reality.

Second, you have to validate the illegal product sold.
Because let’s be realistic, who is going to buy some unknown substance made by some obscure Chinese outfits and sold on a cloak-and-dagger black market? No one, unless somebody – a spokesperson, as explained in Part One of this article – steps in to prop up the black market substance to the level of “treatment” or “cure.” And the spokesperson must be someone perceived as an expert with credibility in the FIP community. Better yet, find two experts, and you’ve got it made. Your substance of questionable origin, suspicious quality and no traceability or safety, all of a sudden, receives a stamp of approval that few are going to question.
And that is precisely what UC Davis and Dr. Niels Pedersen have done. They lent the black market the name recognition it needed to thrive. From that point on, anyone who pointed out the obvious flaws – illegal, counterfeit, stolen property, black market, unsafe, unregulated, etc. – would be reminded that Dr. Pedersen openly praises black market drugs “If you are using pure and biologically active GS-441524, [you] will not need any other treatment”;”I have looked at several [Chinese GS-441524] … and they do appear to be relatively pure and biologically active.” Dr. Pedersen, recommends the groups that illegally sell them, and assists desperate owners with sick cats. To sweeten the deal, another well-known expert, Dr. Diane Addie, broke the news that “Dr. Pedersen has found the cure for FIP,” then listed links to labs selling the black market version of GS-441524. When the people who are supposed to be above reproach lose their ethical and moral compass, they open the door wide for the black market to thrive. UC Davis and Dr. Pedersen, assisted by Dr. Addie, have created the opportunity for a juicy, outlaw market to take over the field of FDA/USDA regulated, safe and legal treatments. Black-market now runs amok in the FIP community, receiving the accolades and support of numerous cat-related media sites, groups, organizations, and social media, contributing to the normalization of an illegal market.