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Florida Doctor Reinstated After Losing Board Certification For Criticizing COVID-19 Vaccines

Florida Doctor Reinstated After Losing Board Certification For Criticizing COVID-19 Vaccines

Authored by Natasha Holt via The Epoch Times,

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Florida Doctor Reinstated After Losing Board Certification For Criticizing COVID-19 Vaccines

Authored by Natasha Holt via The Epoch Times,

A Florida physician known for being outspoken about COVID-related topics has regained his board certification that was stripped because he publicly criticized COVID vaccines.

Now, Dr. John Littell is moving forward from the experience with plans to help future physicians defend themselves when disciplined for voicing viewpoints that are not in the majority, he told The Epoch Times.

Dr. Littell, a longtime family physician in Ocala and a medical school professor, began posting videos sharing his thoughts about COVID-19 testing, treatments, and vaccines early in the pandemic. He was frustrated to find his content often was pulled down from his YouTube channel.

But he fought against what he saw as censorship by moving the content to other platforms, such as Rumble, he said.

Then, in January 2022 and again five months later, he received warning letters from the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM), the organization that issued his certification for his medical specialty.

The letter stated that his videos on YouTube and Rumble spread “medical misinformation” and could put his board certification in jeopardy, he said.

The ABFM declined to comment on the matter because the board's "policy indicates we are unable to comment about professionalism cases," an unidentified spokesperson said in an email to The Epoch Times.

The ABFM is the third largest of the 24 boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties. More than 100,000 family medicine doctors are certified by the board, according to its website.

Protesters concerned about treatment of people who died while being treated for COVID-19 stand outside a board meeting at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Sarasota, Fla., on Feb. 21, 2023. (Courtesy of Tanya Parus)

To keep their certification, physicians must uphold the board's ethical standards and "guidelines for professionalism, licensure, and personal conduct," the website states.

In letters from the board, Dr. Littell was told his public statements violated those guidelines. Dr. Littell responded to the letters and continued to speak publicly and post videos about the subjects, he said.

Months later, when he didn’t hear back, he said he thought the threat was gone.

“I was very happily under the radar,” he said.

Outrage Over Ivermectin

That changed after he was escorted out of a Sarasota Memorial Hospital board meeting in February for approaching a board member behind the dais. He wanted to thank the board member, he said, for letting him speak at the meeting. He didn't realize that move would be seen as inappropriate, he said. 

Though he's cared for many patients in hospitals, he'd never attended a hospital board meeting, let alone a contentious one, he said.

That day, medical freedom activists filled the boardroom to speak against the public hospital's policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many were angry their loved ones were denied the opportunity to try ivermectin, an antiparasitic for humans and animals widely used by some in treating COVID-19, and other treatments. 

Dr. Littell spoke cordially to board members from the podium, an Epoch Times reporter confirmed. He told board members how treating patients with ivermectin had been his key to success in helping them recover. And he praised hospital personnel for their work during the pandemic.

Shortly after that, security guards escorted him outside.

Retired Army Gen. Michael Flynn, who served briefly as national security advisor for former President Donald Trump, attended a board meeting of Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Sarasota, Fla., on Feb. 21, 2023 (Chris Nelson for The Epoch Times)

A video of Dr. Littell's removal from the meeting by security guards was posted to social media and received millions of views and media coverage. And that thrust him back in the spotlight as a doctor vocal about COVID-19 policies.

“I had a target on my back,” he said.

He questioned whether someone else would have been removed for the same reason.

Many doctors have faced consequences for questioning the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines and for advocating for the use of medicines such as ivermectin in the treatment of the disease.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wrote in one social media post about ivermectin: “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.” It linked to a page entitled "Why You Should Not Use Ivermectin to Treat or Prevent COVID-19."

Three doctors sued the FDA over the statements, saying it had no power to tell doctors which drugs to prescribe.

On Sept. 1, a federal court ruled that the agency likely overstepped its authority when it told Americans to "stop" using ivermectin against COVID-19. The FDA can inform, but has "no authority" to recommend consumers "stop" taking medicine, U.S. Circuit Judge Don Willett wrote in the ruling.

Accused of 'Spreading False' Information

The month after Dr. Littell spoke in Sarasota, the board sent a letter saying he'd been de-certified for “spreading false, inaccurate, and misleading materials about COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccination, and treatment and mitigation of the virus," The Epoch Times confirmed. 

A letter reviewed by The Epoch Times stated that if Dr. Littell appealed the decision within 20 days, he would continue to be represented by the board, pending a review of his case by the professionalism committee of the ABFM board of directors.

The reason for the decision to review his record was because of his past suggestions the COVID-19 vaccine was a product of genetic engineering, causing deaths in children and causing the rise of the Delta variant, the letter indicated. It also referenced "false" statements made by Drs. Ryan Cole and Robert Malone, who spoke at a medical freedom conference Dr. Littell organized in October 2022.

In the letter, the board also criticized Dr. Littell for "offering to provide medical exemptions from vaccination" to patients across the country and "publicly comparing the U.S. public health system's response to the COVID-19 pandemic to Nazi Germany."

After receiving the troubling letter, Dr. Littell sought the help of attorney Jeff Childers, a business attorney in Gainesville, Florida. Since the COVID-19 lockdowns began, Mr. Childers has become active in lawsuits around the country related to medical freedom. He authors a daily blog called Coffee and Covid, which started by chronicling COVID-19 issues and now tracks other social and political issues, as well. 

Mr. Childers crafted a 64-page appeal to the board, dissecting every accusation made against Dr. Littell, an Epoch Times reporter confirmed. And as word of the threat to Dr. Littell's board certification spread—a move that would prevent him from practicing medicine—medical freedom activists rose up to take his side.

GiveSendGo.com campaign was started to collect donations to fund his legal fees. More than 6,400 people donated almost $255,000. And more than 1,900 pledged to pray for Dr. Littell. 

The Global Covid Summit, an international group of doctors focused on medical freedom in COVID-19 treatment, sent a letter signed by 169 doctors to the ABFM in support of Dr. Littell. In the letter, they argued that the board was false in every accusation made against Dr. Littell.

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo also voiced support for Dr. Littell.

“What they’re doing is being a bully,” he said in an interview with The Floridian. “It’s not going to age well.

“I read the letter from the Board, and it’s dripping with political animosity.”

Both Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Dr. Littell's congresswoman, Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) sent letters in his defense to the board, Dr. Littell said.

“I’ve got to believe it's not in the dozens, but probably in the hundreds of people who called and sent letters to the American Board of Family Medicine," Dr. Littell said.

"I never asked them to, but that is what was happening.”

In July, Dr. Littell received word that the board had reviewed his case and retroactively de-certified him for three months, from March 16 to June 16. He never stopped seeing patients.

“It's like a slap on the wrist so they’d feel good about it, but wouldn't, presumably, have to face any legal action," he said. 

His attorney agreed.

“They did it in a very face-saving way,” Mr. Childers said. 

But ultimately, he's pleased with the decision.

“We were really surprised and gratified that we were able to achieve that result," Mr. Childers said. 

Dr. Littell credits it to being  “a God thing" that he was able to keep caring for patients and face a decertification period only retroactively. 

“If they had said I was decertified, I would not have been able to do what I was doing. I mean, especially with the hospital care patients. I could have gotten into big trouble.”

He still may face consequences for having the blemish on his record, he said. He’ll have to report it to the hospitals at which he works and explain what happened, he said.

“Every time I go up for privileges with a hospital or any other institution, they're going to say, ‘Well, has your license ever been suspended or revoked, and has your board certification ever been revoked?’ So, it's still an issue. It’s not like you can just forget about it.”

He’s been advised by some other doctors, such as cardiologist Peter McCullough, to pursue legal action for the disciplinary measure they feel was wrong, he said. 

Continuing to Speak Out

Dr. Littell continues to speak out about the same topics. So he suspects he’ll face retribution again, he said. 

“The way I read the letter, it's sort of like a warning,” Dr. Littell said.

The board, he said, seemed to be sending the warning, “If you act up again, we know it's a privilege to have this board certification, and it can be removed at any time.”

And the next time, the punishment is likely to escalate. 

“The implication is that if it happens again, it's going to be more than just three months,” Mr. Childers said.

Around the country, a slew of doctors had board certifications removed and licensure threatened for sharing their COVID-related opinions.

“Most people would probably be surprised to find out there's a lot of this going on, now that the pandemic is over,” Mr. Childers said.

“From what I've heard, there's probably more challenges to doctor licensing right now than at any other time.”

But because most doctors aren’t vocal about receiving discipline, it’s hard to know exactly how often it’s occurring, he said.

Doctors who have been active on social media seem to be targeted more often by medical authorities, he said.

Dr. Peter McCullough speaks in the Mississippi capitol building on COVID-19 vaccine adverse events. (Courtesy of Charlotte Stringer Photography)

Doctors who were not actively posting their thoughts about COVID-19 on social media "should feel very confident that if they follow a similar approach to what Dr. Littell did, they could hope for a good result at this point," he said. 

Obtaining good legal advice is key, he said. It also helps to spread the word.

“All too often doctors either ignore these kinds of letters until it's too late because they're embarrassed, or they try to handle it on their own," he said. 

“It's important that people know when this happens. And if they'll let folks know, they'll find that they get a lot of support.”

Dr. Littell has no plans to keep quiet about what he feels went wrong during the COVID-19 pandemic

“I’m not letting up," he said. 

He's organizing his third annual medical freedom summit in November called “Food, Family & Medical Freedom" in Ocala, Florida at the World Equestrian Center.

Helping Future Doctors 

He intends to use the remaining money donated to his legal fund to help others respond to similar licensure problems, especially threats faced by medical students, he said.

He's trying "to come up with a legal, legislative, and public relations strategy that helps future physicians,” he said. When they see practicing doctors disciplined and “raked over the coals” for speaking out about medical freedom issues, it deters good people from pursuing a degree in medicine, he said.

“I would like the medical freedom fighters, as I'm calling them, to create a sanctuary for pre-med, especially, and medical school students.”

"Early on, even in the colleges, they weed out the physicians who dare to question the narrative or challenge it," he said, of those who insist that doctors decrees made by federal health agencies.

But asking questions and challenging prevailing thought is important to the goal of continually improving medical treatments, he said.

"And that intellectual curiosity is what we’re so desperately lacking now in medicine, and in most professions.”

He also envisions the network expanding to help connect like-minded educators in colleges, universities, and medical schools to share their ideas without fear of being in opposition to “woke” ideology, he said. 

He hopes to see that network push back against “lockstep mentality” and help students who are suffering because of it.

Medical students taught by Dr. Littell often tell him how difficult it is to be entering the field of medicine at this time, he said.

One student told him that his second-year class was forced to be vaccinated for COVID-19, he said. Classmates were told by their university they'd be "thrown out" of medical school in two weeks if they didn't comply, Dr. Littell said.

Medical freedom activists upset about COVID-19 vaccines and other issues gather to voice concerns to lawmakers on the first day of the Florida Legislature's annual regular session at the Capitol in Tallahassee on March 7, 2023. (Courtesy of Justin Harvey)

The student told him that, although more than half the class didn't want the vaccine, they felt they had no other option, Dr. Littell said. Weeks later, the mandate was lifted. But it was too late—many students already had submitted to getting the shot they didn't want.

"It's like they [university officials] were playing games," he said. "And the students didn't know any better.

“They just don't have enough support," Dr. Littell lamented. "They want to say things, but they're afraid they're going to get disciplined if they speak out.”

He sees bringing people together to unite in their pushback against prevailing opinions as a revolutionary concept.

“It's really no different than what our Founding Fathers did," Dr. Littell said.

"They realized that they were victims of repression. But there also were people comfortable with the status quo. That’s what is in our medical schools right now and is what we all need to fight against.

“People should be allowed to question and use their God-given intellect, and not be censored or disciplined for doing so."

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/03/2023 - 17:30

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Four burning questions about the future of the $16.5B Novo-Catalent deal

To build or to buy? That’s a classic question for pharma boardrooms, and Novo Nordisk is going with both.
Beyond spending billions of dollars to expand…

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To build or to buy? That’s a classic question for pharma boardrooms, and Novo Nordisk is going with both.

Beyond spending billions of dollars to expand its own production capacity for its weight loss drugs, the Danish drugmaker said Monday it will pay $11 billion to acquire three manufacturing plants from Catalent. It’s part of a broader $16.5 billion deal with Novo Holdings, the investment arm of the pharma’s parent group, which agreed to acquire the contract manufacturer and take it private.

It’s a big deal for all parties, with potential ripple effects across the biotech ecosystem. Here’s a look at some of the most pressing questions to watch after Monday’s announcement.

Why did Novo do this?

Novo Holdings isn’t the most obvious buyer for Catalent, particularly after last year’s on-and-off M&A interest from the serial acquirer Danaher. But the deal could benefit both Novo Holdings and Novo Nordisk.

Novo Nordisk’s biggest challenge has been simply making enough of the weight loss drug Wegovy and diabetes therapy Ozempic. On last week’s earnings call, Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen said the company isn’t constrained by capital in its efforts to boost manufacturing. Rather, the main challenge is the limited amount of capabilities out there, he said.

“Most pharmaceutical companies in the world would be shopping among the same manufacturers,” he said. “There’s not an unlimited amount of machinery and people to build it.”

While Novo was already one of Catalent’s major customers, the manufacturer has been hamstrung by its own balance sheet. With roughly $5 billion in debt on its books, it’s had to juggle paying down debt with sufficiently investing in its facilities. That’s been particularly challenging in keeping pace with soaring demand for GLP-1 drugs.

Novo, on the other hand, has the balance sheet to funnel as much money as needed into the plants in Italy, Belgium, and Indiana. It’s also struggled to make enough of its popular GLP-1 drugs to meet their soaring demand, with documented shortages of both Ozempic and Wegovy.

The impact won’t be immediate. The parties expect the deal to close near the end of 2024. Novo Nordisk said it expects the three new sites to “gradually increase Novo Nordisk’s filling capacity from 2026 and onwards.”

As for the rest of Catalent — nearly 50 other sites employing thousands of workers — Novo Holdings will take control. The group previously acquired Altasciences in 2021 and Ritedose in 2022, so the Catalent deal builds on a core investing interest in biopharma services, Novo Holdings CEO Kasim Kutay told Endpoints News.

Kasim Kutay

When asked about possible site closures or layoffs, Kutay said the team hasn’t thought about that.

“That’s not our track record. Our track record is to invest in quality businesses and help them grow,” he said. “There’s always stuff to do with any asset you own, but we haven’t bought this company to do some of the stuff you’re talking about.”

What does it mean for Catalent’s customers? 

Until the deal closes, Catalent will operate as a standalone business. After it closes, Novo Nordisk said it will honor its customer obligations at the three sites, a spokesperson said. But they didn’t answer a question about what happens when those contracts expire.

The wrinkle is the long-term future of the three plants that Novo Nordisk is paying for. Those sites don’t exclusively pump out Wegovy, but that could be the logical long-term aim for the Danish drugmaker.

The ideal scenario is that pricing and timelines remain the same for customers, said Nicole Paulk, CEO of the gene therapy startup Siren Biotechnology.

Nicole Paulk

“The name of the group that you’re going to send your check to is now going to be Novo Holdings instead of Catalent, but otherwise everything remains the same,” Paulk told Endpoints. “That’s the best-case scenario.”

In a worst case, Paulk said she feared the new owners could wind up closing sites or laying off Catalent groups. That could create some uncertainty for customers looking for a long-term manufacturing partner.

Are shareholders and regulators happy? 

The pandemic was a wild ride for Catalent’s stock, with shares surging from about $40 to $140 and then crashing back to earth. The $63.50 share price for the takeover is a happy ending depending on the investor.

On that point, the investing giant Elliott Investment Management is satisfied. Marc Steinberg, a partner at Elliott, called the agreement “an outstanding outcome” that “clearly maximizes value for Catalent stockholders” in a statement.

Elliott helped kick off a strategic review last August that culminated in the sale agreement. Compared to Catalent’s stock price before that review started, the deal pays a nearly 40% premium.

Alessandro Maselli

But this is hardly a victory lap for CEO Alessandro Maselli, who took over in July 2022 when Catalent’s stock price was north of $100. Novo’s takeover is a tacit acknowledgment that Maselli could never fully right the ship, as operational problems plagued the company throughout 2023 while it was limited by its debt.

Additional regulatory filings in the next few weeks could give insight into just how competitive the sale process was. William Blair analysts said they don’t expect a competing bidder “given the organic investments already being pursued at other leading CDMOs and the breadth and scale of Catalent’s operations.”

The Blair analysts also noted the companies likely “expect to spend some time educating relevant government agencies” about the deal, given the lengthy closing timeline. Given Novo Nordisk’s ascent — it’s now one of Europe’s most valuable companies — paired with the limited number of large contract manufacturers, antitrust regulators could be interested in taking a close look.

Are Catalent’s problems finally a thing of the past?

Catalent ran into a mix of financial and operational problems over the past year that played no small part in attracting the interest of an activist like Elliott.

Now with a deal in place, how quickly can Novo rectify those problems? Some of the challenges were driven by the demands of being a publicly traded company, like failing to meet investors’ revenue expectations or even filing earnings reports on time.

But Catalent also struggled with its business at times, with a range of manufacturing delays, inspection reports and occasionally writing down acquisitions that didn’t pan out. Novo’s deep pockets will go a long way to a turnaround, but only the future will tell if all these issues are fixed.

Kutay said his team is excited by the opportunity and was satisfied with the due diligence it did on the company.

“We believe we’re buying a strong company with a good management team and good prospects,” Kutay said. “If that wasn’t the case, I don’t think we’d be here.”

Amber Tong and Reynald Castañeda contributed reporting.

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Petrina Kamya, Ph.D., Head of AI Platforms at Insilico Medicine, presents at BIO CEO & Investor Conference

Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb….

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Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb. 26-27 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Dr. Kamya will speak as part of the panel “AI within Biopharma: Separating Value from Hype,” on Feb. 27, 1pm ET along with Michael Nally, CEO of Generate: Biomedicines and Liz Schwarzbach, PhD, CBO of BigHat Biosciences.

Credit: Insilico Medicine

Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb. 26-27 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Dr. Kamya will speak as part of the panel “AI within Biopharma: Separating Value from Hype,” on Feb. 27, 1pm ET along with Michael Nally, CEO of Generate: Biomedicines and Liz Schwarzbach, PhD, CBO of BigHat Biosciences.

The session will look at how the latest artificial intelligence (AI) tools – including generative AI and large language models – are currently being used to advance the discovery and design of new drugs, and which technologies are still in development. 

The BIO CEO & Investor Conference brings together over 1,000 attendees and more than 700 companies across industry and institutional investment to discuss the future investment landscape of biotechnology. Sessions focus on topics such as therapeutic advancements, market outlook, and policy priorities.

Insilico Medicine is a leading, clinical stage AI-driven drug discovery company that has raised over $400m in investments since it was founded in 2014. Dr. Kamya leads the development of the Company’s end-to-end generative AI platform, Pharma.AI from Insilico’s AI R&D Center in Montreal. Using modern machine learning techniques in the context of chemistry and biology, the platform has driven the discovery and design of 30+ new therapies, with five in clinical stages – for cancer, fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and COVID-19. The Company’s lead drug, for the chronic, rare lung condition idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, is the first AI-designed drug for an AI-discovered target to reach Phase II clinical trials with patients. Nine of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies have used Insilico’s AI platform to advance their programs, and the Company has a number of major strategic licensing deals around its AI-designed therapeutic assets, including with Sanofi, Exelixis and Menarini. 

 

About Insilico Medicine

Insilico Medicine, a global clinical stage biotechnology company powered by generative AI, is connecting biology, chemistry, and clinical trials analysis using next-generation AI systems. The company has developed AI platforms that utilize deep generative models, reinforcement learning, transformers, and other modern machine learning techniques for novel target discovery and the generation of novel molecular structures with desired properties. Insilico Medicine is developing breakthrough solutions to discover and develop innovative drugs for cancer, fibrosis, immunity, central nervous system diseases, infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases, and aging-related diseases. www.insilico.com 


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Another country is getting ready to launch a visa for digital nomads

Early reports are saying Japan will soon have a digital nomad visa for high-earning foreigners.

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Over the last decade, the explosion of remote work that came as a result of improved technology and the pandemic has allowed an increasing number of people to become digital nomads. 

When looked at more broadly as anyone not required to come into a fixed office but instead moves between different locations such as the home and the coffee shop, the latest estimate shows that there were more than 35 million such workers in the world by the end of 2023 while over half of those come from the United States.

Related: There is a new list of cities that are best for digital nomads

While remote work has also allowed many to move to cheaper places and travel around the world while still bringing in income, working outside of one's home country requires either dual citizenship or work authorization — the global shift toward remote work has pushed many countries to launch specific digital nomad visas to boost their economies and bring in new residents.

Japan is a very popular destination for U.S. tourists. 

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This popular vacation destination will soon have a nomad visa

Spain, Portugal, Indonesia, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Latvia and Malta are some of the countries currently offering specific visas for foreigners who want to live there while bringing in income from abroad.

More Travel:

With the exception of a few, Asian countries generally have stricter immigration laws and were much slower to launch these types of visas that some of the countries with weaker economies had as far back as 2015. As first reported by the Japan Times, the country's Immigration Services Agency ended up making the leap toward a visa for those who can earn more than ¥10 million ($68,300 USD) with income from another country.

The Japanese government has not yet worked out the specifics of how long the visa will be valid for or how much it will cost — public comment on the proposal is being accepted throughout next week. 

That said, early reports say the visa will be shorter than the typical digital nomad option that allows foreigners to live in a country for several years. The visa will reportedly be valid for six months or slightly longer but still no more than a year — along with the ability to work, this allows some to stay beyond the 90-day tourist period typically afforded to those from countries with visa-free agreements.

'Not be given a residence card of residence certificate'

While one will be able to reapply for the visa after the time runs out, this can only be done by exiting the country and being away for six months before coming back again — becoming a permanent resident on the pathway to citizenship is an entirely different process with much more strict requirements.

"Those living in Japan with the digital nomad visa will not be given a residence card or a residence certificate, which provide access to certain government benefits," reports the news outlet. "The visa cannot be renewed and must be reapplied for, with this only possible six months after leaving the countr

The visa will reportedly start in March and also allow holders to bring their spouses and families with them. To start using the visa, holders will also need to purchase private health insurance from their home country while taxes on any money one earns will also need to be paid through one's home country.

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