S1E46 - Four Thieves Vinegar Collective on The Promise of DIY Pharmaceutical Abortions and Drugs for Long Covid
Episode summary: Margaret talks with Mixael from the Four Thieves Vinegar Collective about access to different medical technologies, biohacking access, and how the medical industrial complex complicates that. They talk about the importance of being able to audit medical access and ways you can build medical infrastructure in your own communities. They talk about old projects like the DIY Epi Pencil as well as new projects they are revealing, which include new ways to access medicines for abortion, regimens forpairing emergency contraception with PReP, and potential medicines for the treatment of Long Covid.
About the Guest: The Four Thieves Vinegar Collective is an anarchist collective dedicated to bringing access medicines and medical technologies to those who need them but don’t have them. This is done primarily by publishing DIY methodologies for taking responsibility for one’s own health by building your own medical devices, manufacturing your own ingredients, or compounding medications yourself.
Publisher Info: This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.
Four Thieves Vinegar Collective on The Promise of DIY Pharmaceutical Abortions
Margaret 00:15 Hello, and welcome to Live Like The World Is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I'm your host, Margaret Killjoy. And this week, we've got a special treat for you or i dunno if it's a treat. But, it's a really interesting episode. And, I think you might get as much out of it as I do. On this episode, I'll be talking with Four Thieves Vinegar Collective, who we've talked to before. They're basically people who do DIY wet chemistry and teach people how to make their own medications. And this time, they're going to be talking about how people could choose to make their own abortion medications, and also even some Long Covid drugs that have some promising successes and many other things besides, so a lot to dig into. This podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero network of anarchists podcasts. And here's a jingle from another show on the network da da ba da buh baa!
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Margaret 02:06 Okay, if you could introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns and then I guess a little bit about Four Thieves Vinegar Collective and what it is you all do?
Mixael 02:19 Yeah, my name is Mixael Laufer, I prefer to take whatever pronouns the person addressing me seems are appropriate of the moment. And the Four Thieves Vinegar Collective is an anarchist collective devoted to bringing access to medicines and medical technologies to people who need them, but don't have them. And we're fairly agnostic about the methodologies that we use to try to bring that into being. So, we do a lot of different things, and including trying to find ways to build DIY medical devices. We do a lot with chemistry, and devising ways that people can build the active pharmaceutical ingredients of drugs that they might need. And we also look at methodologies and strategies by which people can acquire the things they need through non traditional channels. So, either looking for drugs that are packaged for other purposes, or looking for things that are closely related, that you might be able to get and convert into what you need. And that's what I spend most of my time doing, I'm the chief spokesperson for the collective. And, I do a lot of work in logistics. So, mostly I take people who are subject matter experts of different types and I try to make sure they have the tools and materials that they need, and that the information they need and the information that they have gets shuttled to the other subject matter experts with whom they work so that we can eventually release literature and guides for people to be able to take control of their own health and hopefully have a better quality of life.
Margaret 04:18 So, basically, what you all do is you're decentralized collective of people who've research ways to open source different medical technology, drugs and physical equipment, and then make that open source like show people how to make it and make the tools available for people to make it themselves?
Mixael 04:37 Yeah, so that is exactly correct. And to be a little more specific just for your listeners, we don't do any research of our own. We're not developing any new tools. We mostly are hijacking existing tools. We're looking for medical technologies that we already know work. We don't do things like clinical trials or try to develop new drugs that nobody's ever heard of. We look for things that are on the shelf, but inaccessible things that are perhaps not legal for various reasons, perhaps things that have merely not come into the marketplace because they weren't profitable, but still are effective, things that perhaps weren't approved because they were effective, but only in a small margin of the population, and, or in events where they're really inaccessible because the price has been jacked up too high. Or if you happen to be in a situation where the infrastructure just can't reach you, for whatever reason, either due to sclerotic bureaucracy, and you just can't get your insurance provider to give you what you need, or you might be in a rural place where there just isn't a pipeline to get such things. So yeah, we're, we look to take things that are already established that they work and try and get them to the people who need them.
Margaret 06:02 So what are some examples of the...I know, we're going to be talking about some of the new products that you all have been working on in a moment, but what are some of the examples of existing things that you all have done that you've released that people are on their own using and accessing right now, because of you all's work?
Mixael 06:20 Yeah. So the thing that we are ironically best known for was just a sort of side project that happened, but when, when Heather Bresch was lying in front of Congress about why she jacked up the prices of the epi pen, you had a lot of people knocking on our door, saying, "Why aren't you doing something about the epi pen?" So we put together a project that we lovingly and playfully called The Epi Pencil Project that allows you to make in an open source reloadable version that costs $30, to build and about $3, to reload. And that garnered a lot of attention just because it was very timely. And that was fun, and felt good. And, you know, I still get letters from people saying that they're using it. And it's it's good to know that that technology is out there and that people are benefiting from it. Our sort of flagship project that I believe you and I talked about last time is the Apothecary MicroLab, which is an open source, automated chemical reactor that helps you walk through the process of doing organic chemistry if you're trying to synthesize on active pharmaceutical ingredient of a particular drug, and it will help you through the things that are easy for a machine to do, but are easy for a human to mess up. And then it will ask you to sort of help it are the things that are difficult for machine to do but easy for human.
Margaret 07:46 What kind of successes have y'all had with getting this stuff out in the world? You're saying that you've you know, met people who use the Epi Pencil, like, have you? Have you seen widespread adoption? Is it mostly within the hacker community? Like what kind of reach do y'all currently have and what kind of reach are y'all working towards?
Mixael 08:04 Well, we don't really know. And I don't think we really have a goal as to reach. And this is a really sort of central tenet of our philosophy is that we're not looking to try to get what we have out there in a certain volume, because we don't want to be supplanting an infrastructure that we're trying to offer an alternative to. The idea is that we build some tools, and those tools are available. And ultimately, the decision as to whether somebody wants to use those tools or thinks it's necessary to use those tools, or even thinks it's a good idea, or wise or foolish to use those tools really lies with the end user. I mean, and this is really important, right? Because the thing is, is we're not saying "Hey, you should use our stuff instead of the regular stuff." Instead, what we're trying to say is, look, you shouldn't be stuck in the position where either the medical infrastructure serves you the way it's supposed to, or you shrug and just continue to suffer or wait to die. You should have the option of taking things into your own hands. And plenty of people don't want to do that for any number of reasons. And that's their personal decision. The goal here is to make it possible for people to have an alternative option where they previously didn't. And so, because of all of that, we work very, very hard to not try to push what we create as "Hey, you should use what we do." It's, "Here's what we did. We think it's kind of cool, and we hope you look at it carefully and make up your own mind thoughtfully." And at the same time, like, we don't go trying to chase down people who've used it to say, "Hey, you know, give us a good review on Yelp," or whatever. It's...the idea is that it's out there, right? The idea is that it's out there in terms of reach the...
Margaret 10:18 But how are you going to become a millionaire if you don't sell it? [laughing]
Mixael 10:22 Yeah, right? I get that question all the time. And. [both laughing] And, yes, that sort of giggle is typically what comes out of me.
Margaret 10:35 yeah, yeah.
Mixael 10:37 So, so it's...the one the one thing that I think about in terms of that sometimes is I think about people who might want to use what we've created, but don't know that it exists yet. I like to get the message out there a little bit. And it was interesting, too, because we're revamping the website currently. And the, in a group of, of people who are doing the redesign. One of them isn't from a really strong anarchists background, and was looking at this, this new look that we have, it's like, so pretty, and I'm so excited. It's got this like green neon noir look. And there's like splatters of ink and stuff. And he said to me, he's like, "I am concerned that this, this gritty look that you are pushing for is going to turn some people off." And I said, "Uh huh." And he said, "But don't we want to get as many people as possible to the website." And I said, "Absolutely not. What we'd like is we'd like to get as many people who like what we do and appreciate it to our website. And I promise you that if you try to polish this up, like some corpo thing all of our gutter punk friends are going to see that and run. But make it gritty, we're raising a flag saying "You're one of us. Welcome home."" And there was this long silence. And then finally he said, "Understood, thank you." So yeah, so in terms of like reach, I, I want to reach more of our people, you know, I want to reach more of the people who would use the sort of stuff that we do. And when we get these big splashes in mainstream media, it's very weird, because we get a lot of praise from people who kind of pay lip service to like the idea that they think they like what we do, but they don't [pause] like deep down. And it's so bizarre, because I remember, I remember I had been invited shortly after that project to speak at the Sloan School at MIT. And so I was with a bunch of kind of normies. So, after the after the epi pencil droped. And, and so we're having dinner, and like this woman, I think she was from NASA. And she's sitting next to me. And, and like, and just to be clear, like this conversation that I'm about to recount is typical. Like, I've had the same conversation with a lot of people like her. But, she was from NASA. And she said, "Oh, I heard about the Epi Pencil Project. It's really so great that you're making this accessible. My," I don't know, husband or niece or whatever, "has some sort of anaphylactic shock that she goes into when blah, blah, blah, happens. It's really so wonderful to see you do this." And I said, "Oh, thanks." And I said, "So did you build one?" And the inevitable response was, " Hahahaha, God no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, I bought it. But, it's really great that you're doing that." And I was like, "Excuse me, I think I'm in the wrong seat."
Margaret 13:55 Yeah, I mean, I can, I can understand being like, "Well, I have the resources. So I'm gonna buy this one that's like, I expect to be dependable." In a weird way, though. It's almost like saying, "I want to trust an expert rather than trust my own expertise", right, like, because--
Mixael 14:17 It's even weirder than that. Yeah. But this is exactly the point. The the phenomenon that you point out is spot on. It's...because I've dug into this a lot, because I've come across it so much, but it's so bizarre. And the thing that's strange is that they want to put faith into an infrastructure that they can't audit. And it's so counterintuitive, because you think that will be the opposite of what you want. But the reason that they want it so badly is that when you do not have the power to check then you're absolved from the responsibility of checking.
Margaret 15:01 Ah, yeah, uh huh.
Mixael 15:01 And this offloading this outsourcing of responsibility is something that I find over and over and over again, is so very appealing to people. Where if you, if you take something on then if it goes wrong, it's your fault. While if you have an infrastructure supporting you, if something goes wrong, well, that's just bad luck, right? It's a nobody's fault. And there's this this bizarre, this bizarre sort of like blind eyed psychology that happens when you say, "Well, I trust that the infrastructure in place is going to take the best care of me that it can. And that is more comfortable, because I don't have to worry that if something goes wrong that I am blameworthy." And this is terribly ironic, on multiple levels. And it is the most ironic, especially with the Epi Pencil Project, and not to like harken back to this little little thing that we did. But, right after we did that, there was a recall of something like 65,000 epi pens, because they were failing.
Margaret 16:20 Huh, Yeah.
Mixael 16:21 And the number of tragic stories that came out were just innumerable, of, you know, some poor little girl had a airplane meal that like had a peanut in it or something, and her throat starts to swell shut, and her father hits her with the epi pen, and it fails, and he's got a second one, and that one fails, and he's 30,000 feet in the air somewhere over the ocean and just has to watch her die, because you can't take the thing apart and make it work unless you're trained in like how to break it properly. If instead, he'd made it himself, like, there'd be no way for it to fail. It's it's an auto injector. And if something went wrong with the mechanism, you just unscrew it and you use the syringe. There's there's...and it's just it's I don't know, it's it's maddening sometimes when you hear about these tragic stories where people either thoughtfully or thoughtlessly have put all of this trust in in an infrastructure which heartlessly fails them and feels no remorse when it does. It's just a matter of business. Like, that's what, that's the American Way.
Margaret 17:32 Yeah. I mean, that's the that's a an easy microcosm of a very large political truth. And that that's what people want. That's why people trust police. That's why they essentially give up their agency in order to...Well, I mean, in some ways, like, you know, I understand the desire to not have to think about everything I do, right? Like, it's nice, that some stuff...
Mixael 18:00 Sure.
Margaret 18:00 ...someone else takes care of, like, my friend Bursts is editing this audio. And it's nice to be able to be like, "Oh, he's going to edit the audio. And I don't have to think about it," you know, and, and so I understand why people want to do that. But, when you do it at the level of society, and you have everything turned into these black boxes, and you just sort of say, "Well, the black box never fails." And then when it fails, you're like, "Well, I guess there's nothing that could possibly have been done to solve this," you know? And then what you all do is you rip open these black boxes.
Mixael 18:35 That is the goal. That is definitely the goal. Yeah. And I think what you point out is really a critical thing. When you talk about this is why people trust police and trust government and trust, you know, infrastructure and roads and bridges, and like, whatever, you know, whatever you're looking at, in terms of systems, you know, trusting your internet service provider, trusting your phone company, trusting the water systems, like any number of things. And ideally, it would be really nice if all of these things worked, right?
Margaret 19:10 Yeah.
Mixael 19:11 You know, in, in a sort of a Hallmark card fairy tale world, we'd really like to think like, "Well, the water that comes out of the tap, won't catch fire or be full of lead. And the roads that are designed are designed to be safe. And I'm not being unduly spied on or abused or exploited." And unfortunately, we don't get those systems working that well most of the time.
Margaret 19:45 Yeah.
Mixael 19:46 Or enough of the time. And so, I harken back sometimes his memory I have of a friend of mine who went to business school and he's a really nice guy and has plenty of good qualities. But, in a moment of being rather misguided, he went to business school. And so he still has a little bit of that business mindedness sort of stuck in his consciousness. And he said to me, "How would you qualify success of Four Thieves?" And I kind of thought about it for a minute and I said, "Well, if we didn't have to exist anymore."
Margaret 20:20 Yeah.
Mixael 20:21 And he kind of looked at me quizzically, and I was like, "We're filling a gap that really shouldn't be needful. Either the infrastructure should function well enough that it takes care of everybody, or the idea of DIY medicine should be sufficiently normalized that like, we're not important anymore. And everybody's just doing it. Because that's a natural thing to think of."
Margaret 20:44 Yeah, I I like this idea of the ability to audit things mattering ,right? Like, I think of, because I think about how I want to offload certain responsibility. It's just part of my life, as I, you know, as I try to dive deeper into certain specializations, it's nice to free up mental space to not have to think about every system that I rely on. And, one of the things that I think scares people away from anarchism, even if they understand that anarchism is an organized thing, is that there's this assumption that everyone has to have a decision about everything, make a decision about everything. So you have like everyone in the city gets to decide how the water is filtered, or whatever. And, I'm much more into there being a working group of the people who filter water, who figured out the best way to do it and and present it. But, the difference that matters to me is that that would remain auditable, that would remain...I like that phraseing and that would be something that I could--
Mixael 21:41 Exactly.
Margaret 21:42 I don't want to think about how the water is filtered until I suddenly do, and then I want to be able to know, you know, I want to know, and have input if it's necessary.
Mixael 21:51 Yes. Exactly. And that's beautifully put, right? That's beautifully put, and that, and that sort of two tiered, I don't even mean to say it's a two tiered system, that sort of a dual structured system, where it operates independently, but is accessible is really ideal, you know, and people, often when people hear about Four Thieves, right, the first thing that they say is like, "How do you know it's safe?" And I always just have this quizzical moment where I say, "How do you know what you get from the drugstore is safe? You're not allowed to go behind the counter, and even see, if they got the right pills out of the right bin. You're not allowed to go right back there into the refrigerator and see if they stored it properly. You're not allowed to check the truck that it came in on and see if it was shipped properly. Furthermore, you're not even allowed to know what factory it came from. And you're certainly not allowed to go into that factory and see if it was manufactured properly. And yet, somehow that feels safe to you? But if you had your own eyes on everything from start to finish, that seems like a terrible risk. Why? Why do you feel that way?" And people don't tend to have a really good answer most of the time, but it's the same sort of thing. I mean, I think that...I think that there's something automatic about it, again, about wanting to trust structure. But, in the same way, you know, I think that the same thing happens when people who are like, I don't know, cooking their own psychedelics, I think a lot of people would be like, "Oh my God, how is that safe?" And you say, "You bought something from a stranger? How do you know what's even in that? That doesn't seem safe at all." Like where is your saftey versus...
Margaret 23:41 Yeah, I mean, the answer is that none of them are safe.
Mixael 23:46 Right, well, but in one case, you at least have complete surveillance over the entire process. And in the other. You have zero.
Margaret 23:55 Yeah.
Mixael 23:56 So, that seems like a better trade off in my mind.
Margaret 24:01 Yeah. I mean, part of it is that it's like, like I keep kind of harkening back to is that I don't want to be an expert on everything, right? Like, you know, I really like what you all do, and there's a version of the world where I would learn wet chemistry, but it is not particularly likely, right? Like I am, personally not incredibly likely to start manufacturing these things, and but in part because I don't personally physically require any of the things that you all make, to my knowledge, that exists so far, right? And so I'm kind of like, it's sort of easy to, to not think about, but it's...
Mixael 24:37 In the event that you have one that you needed.
Margaret 24:41 I also like am part of a community where I do know people who are smart enough to do these things and, and one of the reasons I like Four Thieves, one of the reasons I talk about you all a lot, is that one of the questions I get asked a lot by people was like, "Well, how do, you know in an anarchist society or after the apocalypse which people equate a little bit more than they should and I do sometimes too, but how would you create such and such drug? And the answer is always like, well, people do it. And there's still going to be people. So, people will do it.
Mixael 25:13 Right. Yeah.
Margaret 25:13 You know? And one of the things that I try and remind myself as a person is that I'm like, I generally believe that if people are capable of doing something, I am a people, and therefore I am capable of doing it. Not like, today, I could go and do open heart surgery. But...
Mixael 25:32 This is exactly my argument too. Yeah.
Margaret 25:34 But I like, I trust my friends that did learn how to do that.
Mixael 25:39 Right. Yeah. Yeah, I think that's absolutely astute.
Margaret 25:43 Well, you know, we're, we've been talking for a while already, but I wanted to kind of give this groundwork. But, I'm really excited about y'all have an announcement today, you have many announcements of a bunch of new products that you all are releasing. And when I say today, I mean, yeah, July 22, 2022. I have no idea when you're listening to this. But, let's, let's hear some of these things that you have to announce.
Mixael 26:09 Yeah, so we have a bunch of new projects, because we've been working through the pandemic. We decided to stop going to virtual conferences and just focus on projects. So, now that it's been almost two years, since we've made any announcements, we have a lot of new projects to drop. And as we were talking about before we went on the air, the sort of element du jour here is abortion drugs. And, this is such a...such a head shaker of an issue, to my mind, because this is a social problem that has a complete and perfect technical solution that there are all of these barriers to implementing that are entirely unnecessarily present. It's just so so so so bizarre. Because, when I think of abortion, I think, "Well, there are some drugs, you take the drugs, and your body is no longer pregnant. Why do we even have to discuss this anymore?" There are a few other pieces where things have--
Margaret 27:27 It seems like a solved problem is what you're saying?
Mixael 27:27 Right, it seems like a solved problem. And, and it's just maddening to me that the the technical part of it was solved decades upon decades ago. And still, it's not accessible, which is just the most bizarre thing ever. So, in looking at the decision that just came out of the so called Supreme Court, you see that the the adenda include this sort of roadmap for bringing this down to emergency contraception, eventually bring this down to contraception itself and, you know, re-criminalizing gay sex and like a million other things that just are kind of just incomprehensible that anybody would want to make that happen. Like, even from the most conservative standpoint, you think that the pragmatism of realizing that it's bad for business when you're horrifically bigoted like maybe he would count for something, but clearly, I am in error when I assume that because it just happened.
Margaret 28:50 Yeah, no. Hate is big business.
Mixael 28:53 Yeah, yeah. It really is. And, I think I need to learn more about why it is because it's, it's so...I don't know, I can't get it to gel in my head. It's It's really weird.
Margaret 29:10 It's a different reality.
Mixael 29:13 It is. It is. And, I think that yeah, I think that that's really it, right? Where if you if you want to really crank up your compassion and try to understand why these people might feel that they're doing the right thing, despite this just horrific acts that they're doing that somewhere in there, like they think that something is better by doing this and it's, I really need to unpack it. And maybe it's something more basic in human behavioral biology that I just don't have a good handle on. But, like you said, it's it is big business and it is definitely a thing So, that to say, regarding abortion, there are two major releases that we have around that that are pretty exciting. And the first one, a we call them, Plan B Plus. And, when you think about getting emergency contraception, as is you know typically termed Plan B, which interestingly enough, all Plan B, and even the off brands like My Way, and the others have in the last week, tripled in price.
Margaret 30:39 Holy shit, Uh huh
Mixael 30:40 It's I mean, not that that's still super expensive, but it's amazing that you used to be able to get My Way for $6. And now it's $16. Like, it's crazy. But you know, again, right? Money drives a lot of things bizarrely, and, you know, supply and demand and all that. But looking at that, you know, Plan B emergency contraception is very effective. But, when you think about the potential negative consequences that might happen from unprotected contact, you might also be thinking about contracting HIV. And we also have a good solution for that. There's post exposure prophylaxis. There's this good regimen for taking some anti-retrovirals. And in the event that you were exposed to HIV during the act, you can be pretty confident that you're going to be protected. And we were able to go through the literature and find what a good regimen for post exposure prophylaxis is. Now it's interesting. So if you look at what happens in a hospital, if somebody has a needle stick accident, the typical regimen for post exposure prophylaxis is a fairly aggressive multi-drug set of anti-retrovirals that you take over a period of a month, and they're pretty rough on your body, because you're taking them in fairly high dose, and you're taking them for a long time. However, the literature indicates that the first dose or two is really doing the heavy lifting. So, if after an event of unprotected contact, or exposure of whatever type, you get one dose of this, it can do 85-95% of the work in terms of protecting you against HIV, which is really great. And so, we had the idea of saying, Well, why not take this with emergency contraception? It seems like kind of a, you know, why not just do them together?
Margaret 32:54 Right.
Mixael 32:54 And, we were very deflated to find out that anti-retrovirals actually interfere with emergency contraception biochemically.
Margaret 33:05 Ah, okay.
Mixael 33:05 And we thought, "God, what a drag?" This...I mean, what a terrible, difficult decision that you'd have to make. Would you prefer to protect yourself?--
Margaret 33:14 Yeah. Which one do you want to deal with?
Mixael 33:15 Right? Would you rather deal with HIV or an unwanted pregnancy? That's a terrible decision to have to make. And one of our superstar researchers managed to find a research summit that was done on this very question just last year, and as it turns out, all you have to do is double the dose of the emergency contraception and that's enough that it's no longer being interfered with by the anti-retrovirals. So, there is a course of treatment that you can give yourself, that is both Plan B, emergency contraception, and post exposure prophylaxis with a multi-drug cocktail, and you will be able to be fairly certain that you will not have either an unwanted pregnancy or an HIV infection, which I'm pretty excited about. I think that's really great to be able to empower people with that, you know. You can just take some pills and that problem is, you know, 19 times out of 20 no longer gonna be a problem anymore.
Margaret 34:21 And so, if someone is interested in making this, it's y'all's system, the MicroLab that people could use to make Plan B Plus?
Mixael 34:34 That is possible, um, indeed, and the...and we are releasing version four of the Microlab as well. And there's a whole software suite with that. Not only is there the MicroLab itself, but there is a graphical user interface that's there to build programs to run on the MicroLab. We have open access our new supercomputer so that you can utilize it to figure out synthesis pathways for whatever drug you're trying to synthesize. And on top of that, also, there's a research assistant that will help you comb through the scientific literature. So you could do that. However, in this case, these are off the shelf drugs, and you can just take them.
Margaret 35:22 Oh, I see what you're saying, okay.
Mixael 35:24 So we'll be releasing a regimen. So, what you can do is merely you would, if you wanted to have this on hand for a rainy day, what you would do is you would buy two doses, so three milligrams, instead of a milligram and a half of the emergency contraception and then you would buy a, you know, a dose of a couple of different anti-retrovirals and you would just, you know, stash them away in the event that you will need them. And, and we'll be releasing that specifically as a, as a regimen, and there'll be documentation so that you can both read through what we have found and also, you will be able to read the original research and literature that this is based on. Again, like, we didn't come up with this.
Margaret 36:19 Yeah, yeah.
Mixael 36:20 This came from existing scientific research. So yes, all the all the primary source material is there, again, auditable, right? You should be making up your own mind. We, we've gone through and found the stuff and you can take a look at it and decide if it's something you want to do.
Margaret 36:38 Okay.
Mixael 36:40 So yes, we do have another technology in the abortion drugs realm that is extremely, extremely exciting. And so as you and most of your listeners, no doubt know, abortion medication is typically made up of Mifepristone and Misoprostol, and you take one dose of the Mife, and then you follow that up with three doses of Miso. And that is roughly 95% or more effective. And so that's kind of a slam dunk. However, in the world of underground abortion providers, it's very well known that if you have Miso only that you can take the three doses of Miso. And, it's roughly 85% effective. And of course, the earlier you take it, the more effective it is. And so most underground abortion providers do that. They work with Miso only. It's easier to get a hold of and it's it's easier to work with.
Margaret 37:48 Okay.
Mixael 37:48 However, there's still the problem of getting it from point A to point B. Typically, these days, it goes through the mail. And, one of the problems is it gets hung up, in the reason that it gets hung up is that it's a tablet. And there are these rigid object detectors that are in mail systems, and they get caught and they get pulled, especially through crossing international borders. It's very difficult. Same sort of thing. If you're in a some sort of oppressive environment, either like your home life or your small community if you have pills lying around, or if somebody spots you with pills, like a lot of question marks are going to come up. So when we released our video on how to make your own Miso tabs, the big thing is making the tablet. And the reason you have to make a tablet and this is really critical is that misoprostol is a very fragile molecule. If you just swallow it, your stomach acid will immediately destroy it and it's useless. You need to have it in a tablet so that you can put it in your cheek and let it dissolve and it will slowly soak in and be effective. That's also the reason why the alternate route of delivery is vaginal administration just of the tablets. You need it to dissolve in a place where there are a lot of capillaries. And apparently it's also fairly local. So there are some theories, that vaginal administration can be more effective. But, I think the literature is kind of split on that. But again, it can't be a capsul.
Margaret 39:35 People have talked about this idea. And I don't know. So, don't listen to me as saying absolutely the truth. But, I have heard people talk about how vaginal use of this is more traceable than oral use of it, in terms of possible prosecution.
Mixael 39:53 Right. So, there are documented cases of that. So, what can happen and what has what has happened in, I believe in number of Latin American countries, is that when things have not worked, and somebody's had to go in to a hospital, say, "I'm having a miscarriage, and it's going poorly, and I need medical attention," that after a pelvic exam, not the active ingredient, but some of the buffer and binder hasn't dissolved, and somebody says, "You have chunks of pills in you, we know what you did." And so, there are...sometimes say if you're in an extremely non permissive environment where you would go to jail for murder, if anybody knew that you tried to induce a miscarriage in your body, that taking it orally is safer in that regard. So again, again, the key thing here again, is thinking about it dissolving, that it has to be in a...you can't just put it in a capsule and swallow it, right, it has to be in a tablet form. And this is the difficult part. If you give somebody a bunch of raw active pharmaceutical ingredient, they can't just put it in gel caps they get from the health food store and make pills, you have to press it into a tablet. And while you can do that, and you know, we did release a video on how to do that, it's not that difficult, but it is a pain and putting through the mail is you know, they're fragile, and they break and what do you do with that? Is that okay? And people get nervous. So we were all sitting around trying to figure out what to do about this and one of our absolutely brilliant members just kinda looked up and said, "Why don't we just put it in blotter paper, like acid tabs?" And we all just had this moment of silence and said, "Oh, my God, that's brilliant." And again, scouring the literature, it turns out that this has been done. It's just nobody does it. There's a very effective way that you can put miso into paper with a binder so that it's less...so it's more stable, more shelf stable and less fragile. Misoprostol is shelf stable when stored properly.
Margaret 42:31 Do you have to keep it in a freezer?
Mixael 42:32 You don't have to keep it in the freezer. The thing apparently that it is most susceptible to is--
Margaret 42:38 I'm just thinking of Acid.
Margaret 42:39 Oh, right. Haha. Yeah, so the thing that the thing that misoprostol apparently is most susceptible to is moisture. And the interestingly, the buffer that comes with, when you put it into the paper makes it less susceptible to moisture. If you're planning on storing it for a long period of time, yeah, you can put in like a Ziploc bag or a little Mylar bag or whatever, that's fine. And it'll keep for longer. But, in the suspension that we've found, you can just have a little piece of card. And so what we are hoping to do is to have a whole bunch of little business cards that have six little squares that you can cut out, and you take two of them, and put them in your cheeks and you let them sit there for about an hour. And then you you wait the requisite number of hours and you do your second dose and then you'd wait the requisite number of hours and take your third dose and you're done. And the thing that's magical about this is that it removes a lot of the infrastructural problems. You can send this through the mail. It's totally undetectable. You can stick it into a copy of "The Left Hand of Darkness" in the public libraries and just tell somebody that they can go pick it up, if they need it. You can take this and stash it in any number of geocaches.
Margaret 44:11 I think that you should use "A Country of Ghosts."
Mixael 44:13 There we go. Yeah. So you know, they're...right or or or "The Mists of Avalon" or any number of appropriate works of literature that you can stash these in entirely appropriate.
Margaret 44:25 Yeah.
Mixael 44:26 And what we're hoping to have by the time this airs is to have a lot of these already out there and circulating. Not just that it's an idea, but that it's been manufactured by a bunch of affiliate cells, a number of other anarchist health activism groups, and that hopefully the opinion as it's called of the Supreme Court becomes just their opinion. And if there's so much out there that people can just get it for free whenever they want, because we've made so much of it, then maybe they just don't matter that much anymore.
Margaret 45:15 So, I'm laughing super hard, because it's fucking brilliant. And also, of course, because I really liked the idea of being able to say, "Yeah, well, that's just your opinion, man," to the Supreme Court's opinion.
Mixael 45:27 Yeah, I like that.
Margaret 45:28 But this, this does bring up a question. What's the legality of manufacturing and or, clearly, we would never advocate anyone break the law, because that's the, I mean, actually, literally, that's the kind of thing that people need to make their own decision. Oh, well,
Mixael 45:46 Oh, well you and I might differ on that.
Margaret 45:51 You live in a different country.
Mixael 45:51 I would certainly advocate for people to break the law. But yeah, details. Yes. Right.
Margaret 46:00 And also, I would say that I advocate for people to have knowledge with which they can make their own informed decisions about which laws they want to follow. But--
Mixael 46:08 That's a good way to phrase it.
Margaret 46:09 To what degree is there a concern around like, like, if I live in a state where Miso is legal, is it legal for me to make it myself?
Mixael 46:20 Oh probably not.
Margaret 46:20 Like, in general, what kind of legality will people be running into?
Mixael 46:26 All manner of weird things, and it does depend on the state that you're in. And the the legal team at Four Thieves basically put it to me like this. If they want to arrest you, they can find a way. And it was sort of it was kind of like it's a moot right. Are you distributing a dangerous drug? Are you distributing a dangerous drug with intent to defraud? Are you practicing medicine without a license? Are you...that there's so many weird laws that are so broadly written, that any number of things could be thrown at you, if you were making it, distributing it, sharing it, taking it, especially with all the new shifts in law. And again, it becomes, in, in my mind, with my understanding of the situation as it is now, the risk that you run is really measured in Is it going to be worth it for the law enforcement in question to try to chase you down? Or not? How possible and how plausible is that? Because if you think about the state of New York, you're in the northeast, some you're near New York, right?
Margaret 47:57 Sure, yeah.
Mixael 48:00 Okay, you might be in New York.
Margaret 48:02 I'm in Appalachia. I am closer to New York than I am to like San Francisco.
Mixael 48:09 Right, closer to New York than I am. So but, I happen to know that in the state of New York, if you were to say, "Hey, Mixael, you know, I have a headache?" And I say, "Oh, yeah, have you thought of taking an aspirin for that," that I am technically, committing a felony of practicing medicine without a license. That's how broadly the law is written. Now, nobody's ever gonna prosecute that of course. But, the law in many cases and in many places is written so broadly that anything will fall under its purview. And it becomes this weird question of is it worth the energy of a prosecutor? Is it worth the energy of the local police force? Is worth the energy of an investigator? And so in sort of a threat modeling sort of idea, the way the InfoSec people talk about it, you just want to make yourself just a little bit more of a pain in the ass to hunt down than anybody's willing to do. And you're probably safe. Now, this isn't like good advice from me, like go talk to a real security person, if you're thinking about doing this, and like, keep yourselves and keep each other safe. Please, please, please, please, if you're if you're one of us, we need you out here and safe. So that we can all keep doing stuff and helping each other. So, you take as...take more precautions than you think you need. Please. Try to be...try to err on the side of safety. However, I would say do not allow the the fear to paralyze you into inaction. There are ways that you can keep yourself relatively safe, and stay out of so called trouble and still do the things that you believe are right. And you will be able to continue to help other people and keep each other healthy and keep each other safe.
Margaret 50:25 Yeah. Yeah, no, I, I sometimes get sad because I'm like, "Well, I picked being very public as my role. So I guess I'm not doing anything really cool." But, I don't know. So. So what else you got? It's your big day of announcements. You've already offered the world ways to access reproductive, their own reproductive health. What about oh, I don't know this thing that's going around that's disabling a lot of people and causing a lot of problems and killing people called Covid. You got anything for that?
Mixael 51:05 Yeah. Well, we do, we do. And I'll give at least a little teaser.
Margaret 51:10 Yay!
Mixael 51:10 Now, this is an interesting thing. Because in Four Theives we we have a general policy of marching away from the sound of the guns. If there are a lot of people working on something, we tend to think, "Okay, well, then we're not needed there, we need to focus on the things that aren't being focused on." We did I construct a Covid survival guide. In the very early days. I think we released it in February of 2020. When people kind of weren't appreciating how scary it was going to be. And, we put together the information that we had access to at the time, and it's aged, okay. There are a number of things that are certainly outdated. And at least one thing that's not terribly correct. Or, it's miscontextualized. We have a thing where we're like, "You know, masks don't keep you safe very much," which is true. But masks are really important because they keep everybody else safe. So you know, don't be a jerk, wear a mask, keep everybody else safe. It wasn't clear at the time that it was going to be so pervasive that we were going to need to do that all the time. So, we did that when it seemed nobody else was. And then subsequently, when basically every scientific organization in the world suddenly turned their microscopes on this, we thought, well, okay, cool, we're not needed anymore, we're going to focus on other things. But, as the years have passed, there is one aspect of Covid that is getting all largely ignored by the mainstream medical infrastructure, which is Long Covid. I have spoken with a number of medical professionals who have a very dismissive attitude. And they say that they feel they think, Long Covid is largely psychosomatic. And I'm kind of disgusted.
Margaret 53:18 It's the same shit of every fucking viral. It's just the same thing as every viral long term thing, that people just like, like, like people have....there's other viruses that people get that cause long term symptoms that get called psychosomatic is what I'm saying.
Mixael 53:36 Sure and the thing that it, it sounds very...harkens back to a lot of the stuff that you typically hear mainstream doctors say about things like chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, things that definitely affect people with two X chromosomes. When you're looking at these things, it's like, "Oh, it's on your head, you need to exercise more, you should probably lose weight. You," you know, whatever. Just this very, very dismissive attitude that when I hear it, and when I sort of poke at these people and ask them to sort of unpack their reasoning for me, that when you get down to it, they're basically like, "Look, we don't know how to treat it. So essentially, in my reality, it doesn't exist." And I'm like, that's exactly the opposite of the attitude we should be having towards something that's crippling people. This is terrible. This is terrible.
Margaret 54:37 Yeah.
Mixael 54:37 And so as happens sometimes there are occasionally people that reach out to Four Thieves and have some information that's not in the public sphere or is not highlighted enough. And a guy that I worked with years and years ago said, "Hey, I know what you're doing and there's this thing that I have for Long Covid. And I can't get any traction on it. Maybe you can push it in through one of your backdoors." And I said, "I don't believe you. There's no way you have a cure for Long Covid. Long. Covid is so complicated. It's like this world. It's this giant umbrella of different symptoms and different mechanisms of action." And he was like, "Yeah, yeah, I know. It's only for one." And so I shut up. And I said, "Okay, I'm listening. What are we talking about?" He said, "Well, a lot of Long Covid cases seem to be autoimmune in nature." And I was like, "Yeah, I've read that. And he said, the very few doctors who are taking this seriously are treating it with immunosuppressants." And I said, "Okay, cool. What now?" And he said, "Well, the problem is, is immunosuppressants that are approved in the United States, are very, very hard in the system, and will often cause people's kidneys to fail before they do what they're supposed to do." And I said, "Yeah, so you got something better?" And he said, "Actually, yes, it's an old drug. It's FDA approved. It was originally designed for leprosy. And it's called Clofazimine." And I said, "This is ridiculous. You're talking about an antibiotic. That's not going to do anything," And he said, "Slow down." He said, "This modulates the calcium channels in your T cells, and it will bring your immune system down to chill out." And I said, "I don't believe you. This is ridiculous. This is this is this seems totally...There's no way you just have this in your backpack. How is this real?" And I said, "Wend...Do you have documentation?" And he said, "Yeah, of course. I have a truckload of documentation." "So we'll send it to me." He said "Well, I will." And he did and he was right. The weird thing that's, that's so difficult is that Clofazimine is almost impossible to find, because leprosy is seen as a poor people disease, a non-white people disease.
Margaret 57:19 Yeah.
Mixael 57:20 And, so despite the fact that Clofazamine was approved by the FDA, and is on the books, it's not manufactured by anybody in the United States. And it's not imported to the United States by anybody. So you really, really, really have to go looking for it. And, so the last thing where I'm still kind of totally incredulous with this guy, whereas I said, "So what? Somebody just takes this for the rest of their lives, and maybe they're okay? Like, and how long do they need to take it before they even know that it's working?" And he said, "They can take one or two doses, and it'll either work or it won't." And I said, "You've got to be joking." And he said, "No, I'm serious." I said, "Well, and then when they take it forever?" And he said, "No, then you can take it for about a month, and your immune system will settle out to a regular setpoint. And then you can stop taking it, and you can just go back to your regular life." And I was just absolutely floored. And so we continue to try and look for sources Clofazamine. They allegedly are available in places like Indian Bangladesh. Again, we're recording this in advance of when it's going to be released. So hopefully, we'll have a truckload full of it. And we'll be throwing it to people from the stage. But, again, it's been very hard to turn up. And again, I think just the fact that it's hard to get these sorts of things is so emblematic of all of the problems that you and I keep talking about in terms of the way that health running both worldwide, and especially in the US. So hopefully, we'll have some of this and hopefully, we'll be able to get it to the people who need it and help people who need it, get it themselves. And Long Covid can be something that isn't affecting so so so many people, and we'll be able to make at least some of them a little better.
Margaret 59:12 What...like what kind of...you're saying that it only works on certain, certain Long Covid symptoms or sufferers, like, is there a sort of like a rough idea of like, what percent you're talking about? Because also, there's I know that you expressed incredulity in the story, but it's like, it's so hard not to hear this and think this is horse paste again, you know, this is ivermectin.
Mixael 59:35 Right. So, so, so Long Covid again, is this it's this big umbrella term for something happened with Covid and you're experiencing things after you are quote unquote, "better." One of the ways that this manifests is people just get severe forms of Covid and get organ damage. And that's Long Covid Right. You have permanent effects from it, like no drug gonna to fix that, okay. You have organ damage, you have organ damage. That's very hard to reverse. There are manifestations where people kind of have chronic infection where especially in people who are immunocompromised, their viral load never really goes away. And, they just continue to suffer. Also, this is not going to help that at all. But what seems to happen in a, you know, maybe not the majority or even the plurality of cases, but a large chunk of cases is what happens is, people get a fairly severe Covid infection, and their immune system kicks into hyperdrive as it is designed to, but Covid can be sufficiently aggressive and hang around long enough that the immune system never modulates back down. And so what will happen is that people who have recovered from their Covid infection become hypersensitive to things again. They're totally fatigued all the time, because their immune system is taking up all of their resources. They don't tolerate things well. They get weird, like allergic reactions to things. All sorts of stuff that, again, is in this sort of autoimmune disease manifestation. And the thing that's really magical is that you take one or two doses of this, and it'll either work or it won't. If you if you start to feel better, you know, that you're in this particular category of this is what you needed. And then you can just take a course of treatment, and hopefully, you'd be better. And you so you don't have to, like tax your body for a long time trying to say, well, like maybe it'll work maybe won't, you'll know very quickly, which is such a blessing. And so my hope at the HOPE conference in New York, is that if I find people who say they have Long Covid, that I'll be able to give them one or two doses and say, "Take one today, take one tomorrow, and if on Sunday, you feel much better, I can give you a month's worth. And then you can just take it home with you and be better."
Margaret 1:02:20 Right.
Mixael 1:02:21 So that's my dream. And again, also that you proliferate it so that people know how they can access it on their own without having to need us as an intermediary. And have ways that people can, as you say, potentially manufacture it, if it's not accessible at all. Access is really the thing. There's so many, so many things that are on the shelf we can fix, but you can't get them legally. So, while you might not encourage people to break the law, I say, have at it. Have at it! If it's the difference between breaking the law and keeping your health, would you rather be the most law abiding citizen in the graveyard? Or would you like to maybe work circum-legally, or extra-legally and live to fight another day? I think it's a pretty easy decision
Margaret 1:03:16 That that I encourage everyone can make on their own. Yeah, no, totally. All right. And so I think you have one more announcement for today. And maybe we'll go over this one quickly. We're kind of running out of time. So, but, you have a defibrillator?
Mixael 1:03:33 Oh, so I'll give another teaser is that we have...yeah, the defibrillator. So we have an open source defibrillator that you can build for about $600 instead of the usual $6,000. And so we'll be giving details on all of these things at the talk at HOPE [conference]. And we'll be doing workshops at DEF CON a few weeks later. And I encourage you all to come out. And if you can't, I know that you can get a virtual ticket to HOPE so that you can not just stream all the talks, but also interact and ask questions in real time. And I believe that DEF CON will also be hybridized. So, if you go to the Biohacking Village Channel [On Youtube], you should be able to watch what we're doing. And yeah, I hope to see you all there. Or sooner or later somewhere.
Margaret 1:04:26 All right. There any last words, things that we forgot, things that need to get pointed out?
Mixael 1:04:37 Well, if you like what Four Thieves is doing and you want to support the mission, please go out and find somebody who needs your help and help them whether or not you think they deserve it.
Margaret 1:04:49 Yeah, fuck yeah. All right. Well, thank you so much for coming on. Again.
Mixael 1:04:55 Keep each other healthy, each other safe.
Margaret 1:04:58 Thanks so much for coming on again.
Mixael 1:04:59 Thank you so much. It's always great chatting with you. And I hope we can do it again.
Margaret 1:05:02 I look forward to it.
Mixael 1:05:03 Yeah, me too.
Margaret 1:05:11 Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast, you should tell people about it. You should tell people about it on the internet, and in person, and sky writing. I don't know if sky writing is ethical. If you all come up with a green version of sky writing, you should do it hot air balloons? I feel like hot air balloons. If you were to set up hot air balloons, and do banners from the hot air balloons, maybe that don't just say "Live Like The World is Dying" because that would be kind of a scary thing if you were just driving around and there was a hot air balloon up above you that said, "Live Like The World is Dying." Or maybe that would be good. I'm not the boss of you. You do whatever you want, including not tell people about this, whatever. You can also support us. You can support us by supporting our publisher. We are published by Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness, which is a publishing collective that's how you know, they publish things like podcasts. We. I'm part of it. We put out zines. And we put out podcasts, and we're going to be putting out books soon. We've been around for almost 20 years in various different incarnations, but this new version of it is new and exciting. And if you support us on Patreon, patreon.com/strangersInatangledwilderness, you can sign up there and you can get a zine sent to you every month. Not for free. It's like, you have to pay for it. But it's like once you sign up for the thing, then we send it to you and we'll send it to you anywhere in the world. And also all of our content is made available as best we can free on the internet as well. But, it's really cool to be supported and really grateful. I know that I like to say this every time but I'm really grateful for all the support that people have shown. Both the people who came over with me. It used to be a personal Patreon for me, and have come over to supporting the collective, and then also all of the new supporters. It it's like really good for morale. We're like trying to do this fairly ambitious project with all this stuff that we're trying to get done. And we haven't been able to get all of it done yet, right? And people being like, "No, we believe in you!" by supporting us has been really big, really great. So thanks. Thank you. And in particular, I would like to thank Hoss the Dog, who is a dog, not a person. I already made this joke. And now I'm stuck making the joke again. I'm sorry. If you missed the joke, Hoss the Dog is a dog but anyway, Hoss the Dog, Chris, Sam, Miciahah, Kirk, Natalie, Eleanor, Jennifer, Staro, Kat J, Chelsea, Dana, David, Nicole, Mikki, Oxalis, Paige, and SJ. Yeah. Thank you. And to everyone else, go out and don't commit crime unless you want to commit crime. Really, I guess that was the whole point of the whole thing you just listened to. Good luck! Weird shits happening? I don't know. We'll get through it. Yeah, it'll be good. Totally. See you all soon.
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