FLORIDA STARTS MICROCHIPPING ALZHEIMER'S PATIENTS DESPITE CANCER RISKS
"And he shall make all, both little
and great, rich and poor, freemen and bondmen, to have a character in their
right hand or on their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, but he that
hath the character, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name."
—Apocalypse/Revelations Chapter 13: 16-17
Close to six million
Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease this year. Although
symptoms vary widely, the first symptom most people notice is forgetfulness
that, at times, is severe enough to affect their work and social lives.
As the disease
progresses, other symptoms include confusion, trouble with organizing and
expressing thoughts, misplacing things, getting lost in familiar places, and
changes in personality and behavior.
Alzheimer's is the most
common form of dementia, a general term for the loss of memory and other
intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Vascular
dementia, another common type, is caused by reduced blood flow to parts of the
brain. In mixed dementia, Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia occur together.
is a frightening disease with little relief in sight for the sufferer. Recently,
Alzheimer's patients are being promised assistance using a medical microchip
that is surgically implanted into an Alzheimer patients flesh. The controversial
microchip creator VeriChip Corp. is at the forefront of encouraging this
surgical procedure for Alzheimer sufferers.
Although in five years
the VeriChip Corp. — the US company creating microchip implants — has yet to
turn a profit, it has been investing heavily –up to $8 million a year — to
create new markets.
executives have said their present push is the tagging of "high-risk" patients
— diabetics and people with heart conditions or Alzheimer's disease.
In a medical emergency,
hospital staff could wave a reader over a patient's arm, get an ID number, and
then, via the Internet, enter a company database and pull up the person's
identity and medical history.
To doctors, a "starter
kit" — complete with 10 hypodermic syringes, 10 VeriChips and a reader — costs
$1,400, according to information on the Verichip web site. To patients, a
microchip implant means a $200, out-of-pocket expense to their physician.
Presently, chip implants aren't covered by private healthcare insurance
companies, or by Medicare and Medicaid.
For almost two years,
the company has been offering hospitals free scanners, but acceptance has been
limited. According to the company's most recent SEC quarterly filing, 515
hospitals have pledged to take part in the VeriMed network, yet only 100 have
actually been equipped and trained to use the system.
Some patients and their
families are wondering why they should abandon noninvasive tags such as
MedicAlert, a low-tech bracelet that warns paramedics if patients have serious
allergies or a chronic medical condition for the microchip implants.
In early September, up
to 200 Alzheimer's patients living in the Palm Beach, Florida area were
implanted with the microchip by the company VeriChip absolutely free.
The chip, which is
about the size of a grain of rice, contains a 16-digit identification number
which is scanned at a hospital. Once the number is placed in a database, it can
provide crucial medical information. People are already lining up for the
VeriChip, but it's already stirred up controversy.
The story, carried by
ABC TV News, caused one reporter to ask, "Is Big Brother watching?"
The relative permanence
is a big reason why Marc Rotenberg, of the Electronic Privacy Information
Center, is suspicious about the motives of the company, which charges an annual
fee to keep clients' records.
The company charges $20
a year for customers to keep a "one-pager" on its database — a record of blood
type, allergies, medications, driver's license data and living-will directives.
For $80 a year, it will keep an individual's full medical history. In recent
days, there have been rumors on Wall Street, and elsewhere, of the potential
uses for RFID in humans: the chipping of U.S. soldiers, of inmates, or of
migrant workers, to name a few.
Last May, a protest
outside the Alzheimer's Community Care Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, drew
attention to a two-year study in which 200 Alzheimer's patients, along with
their caregivers, were to receive chip implants. Parents, children and elderly
people decried the plan, with signs and placards.
"Chipping People Is
Wrong" and "People Are Not Pets," the signs read. And: "Stop VeriChip."
Dr. Katherine Albrecht,
the RFID critic who organized the demonstration, raises similar concerns on her
AntiChips.com web site.
"Is it appropriate to
use the most vulnerable members of society for invasive medical research? Should
the company be allowed to implant microchips into people whose mental
impairments means they cannot give fully informed consent?" she wrote.
the polemic heats up, legislators are increasingly being drawn into the fray.
Two states, Wisconsin and North Dakota, recently passed laws prohibiting the
forced implantation of microchips in humans. Others states — Ohio, Oklahoma,
Colorado and Florida — are studying similar legislation.
legislators are debating a bill that would authorize microchip implants in
people imprisoned for violent crimes. Many felt it would be a good way to
monitor felons once released from prison.
But other lawmakers
raised concerns. Rep. John Wright worried, "Apparently, we're going to
permanently put the 'mark' on these people."
Rep. Ed Cannaday found
the forced microchipping of inmates "invasive … We are going down that
Rep. Wright and many
Christians throughout the United States believe the push to have microchips
implanted in human beings is a fulfillment in prophesy.
"And he shall make all,
both little and great, rich and poor, freemen and bondmen, to have a character
in their right hand or on their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell,
but he that hath the character, or the name of the beast, or the number of his
name." (Apocalypse/Revelations Chapter 13: 16-17)
Another drawback to
microchip implants is the suspicion that they are linked
to cancer in test animals. Opponents of human microchipping are concerned
with the speed with which these chips received approval from the (FDA) US
Food and Drug Administration. Opponents such as Dr. Albrecht believe the FDA
approval has more to do with politics than medicine.
Opponents believe the
government is choosing the most vulnerable citizens for the initial implants —
Alzheimer's patients, the handicapped, retarded, the elderly — but eventually
every human being in the US, Mexico and Canada will be required to have the
microchip implants if only to keep track of them and their activities.
"Under the federally
supported National Animal Identification System (NAIS), digital tags are
expected to be affixed to the U.S.'s 40 million farm animals to enable
regulators to track and respond quickly to disease, bioterrorism, and other
calamities," according to a Business Week article.
"Opponents have many
fears about this plan, among them that it could be the forerunner of a similar
system for humans. The theory, circulated in blogs, goes like this: You test it
on the animals first, demonstrating the viability of the radio frequency
identification devices (RFIDs) to monitor each and every animal's movements and
health history from birth to death, and then move on to people."